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Films >> Milk (2008) >>

His life changed history. His courage changed lives.

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On November 27, 1978, Dianne Feinstein stood before a crowd of reporters and announced that San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay elected official, had been assassinated. Her statement was met with audible gasps and cries of outrage that underscored Milk’s importance to the gay community. Directed by Gus Van Sant, Milk traces Harvey Milk’s evolution from accountant to vocal activist for gay rights. The story begins with Milk and his younger lover Scott Smith leaving New York for the thriving gay scene of San Francisco. After encountering discrimination as a small business owner in the Castro, Milk, running on a platform of gay rights, embarks on a series of losing political bids before finally winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk’s tenure as Supervisor is fraught with political battles and comes at a time when anti-gay legislation is sweeping the country. At the forefront of this battle to repeal gay rights is California State legislator John Briggs and antigay advocate Anita Bryant who introduce Proposition 6, an initiative designed to ban gays and lesbians from working in California's public schools. Realizing the implications the passage of Proposition 6 will have upon gay rights initiatives across the country, Milk mobilizes activists and learns to use the power of his office to exert pressure on local officials. His resounding defeat of the initiative is marred by an internal struggle on the Board between him and fellow Supervisor Dan White that grows increasingly hostile as Milk refuses to support White’s unpopular initiatives. When White resigns from office and then asks to be reinstated, Milk is a vocal opponent and uses his clout to pressure Mayor Moscone into refusing the reinstatement. White responds by entering City Hall on November 27, 1978, and assassinating Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk. The assassinations set off a chain of events in which the gay community becomes unified in a way never previously seen. Milk is an effective biopic of a man who advocated for justice in life and became a beacon for a movement of people who continue to seek legal equality.