Gillian Ray brings us a compelling real-life look at the world of Maureen Kelleher, an artist, activist, and private investigator. The Courage of Her Convictions follows Kelleher throughout Louisiana as she brings to light issues surrounding capital punishment and racial profiling in the American justice system. Read below for more information on Gillian Ray and her work.
What is your connection to the South?
I was born and raised in Florida and lived for several years in Louisiana. My film The Courage of Her Convictions is partially set in New Orleans.
Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
The film’s inspiration originates with its main character, Maureen Kelleher, who is among the most dedicated, passionate activists for social justice I’ve ever worked with. I first met Maureen through her artwork which is just one of her dimensions as an activist. Spending time with her, I realized her story could help open hearts and minds to the urgent need to reform America’s criminal justice system.
How did you start making films?
I made my first short documentary as an undergraduate in 1987. And while I thought I would go into filmmaking full-time, I instead pursued a professional career in public affairs. In 2010, I decided to reconnect to my passion for documentary and enrolled in American University’s film program (Washington, DC). I’ve made several documentaries to date including an environmental film that aired locally on public television in the DC market.
Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
To shoot one of the film’s key scenes in New Orleans, I arranged to fly two people into town from Massachusetts. Due to bad weather in North Carolina where they were supposed to connect, they ended stranded in Charlotte the evening before our big shoot. Thankfully I was able to get them on an early flight and they arrived just in time for the shoot itself. I was panicking big time on the inside, but somehow remained cool on the outside.
What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
At Indie Grits, I look forward to seeing some amazing films, meeting fellow filmmakers and film buffs, engaging in thoughtful dialogue, and exploring Columbia, SC!
Why should someone see your film?
Especially now, it’s important to share stories that seek the truth, bring us together and inspire actions both large and small that benefit us all.