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Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank

Directed by Sheila Canavan & Michael Chandler2013USA87 mins

This fascinating documentary explores the life (private and public) of our country’s most prominent out gay politician to date: the inimitable Barney Frank, a staunch defender of civil rights and “small-d” democratic principles for 32 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and, as Rachel Maddow describes him, “the member of Congress you would most like to see argue with whoever it is you most dislike in the world.”

In taking stock of Frank’s extraordinary life, the filmmakers share deeply personal moments and uncover the inner workings of our country’s political process. Archival materials and conversations with Frank reveal the emotional pain of a closeted life, the relief of coming out, and the repercussions of a scandal that everyone expected to end his career. In unsparing interviews, political power players (on both sides of the aisle), Frank’s lifelong friends, and even a few foes express their deep respect for the Congressman’s political savvy and reveal the surprisingly gentle soul behind the cantankerous facade. Covering his final year in office, the film ends with an exclusive look at a personal triumph for Frank: his wedding to Jim Ready, which made him the first openly gay congressman to marry.

This film will make you want to cheer—for a trailblazing activist whose personal journey mirrors our country’s journey toward equal rights for all, and for his knowing optimism, even in the face of a political system that seems increasingly broken.

— Charles Purdy

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D308

Co-presented by:

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

Expected Guests

Subjects Barney Frank and Jim Ready, and Directors Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler
Quick links
Sheila Canavan & Michael Chandler
Running Time
87 mins
Documentary Features, Audience Award Winners
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