Date: September 30 2023
Venue: Burns Court Cinema
Duration: 17 min
Director: Cristian Sitjas
Producer: Fermin Rojas
There Are Thing To Do
USA| 17 MIN | Short Film
Urvashi Vaid, an outspoken immigrant, lesbian and woman of color was an LGBTQ+ superhero who believed in human rights for all people and helped shape the modern day gay rights movement. Her vision for the movement serves as a roadmap of initiatives & tools for generations of activist as they face the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash. Her life in Provincetown, Massachusetts and decades-long relationship with partner Kate Clinton inspired her call to action to achieve equality by creating community.
Mike believes in the power of non-fiction storytelling to create awareness and inspire people to action. After a 35 year career in corporate America he turned his sights on filmmaking as his medium to explore compelling subjects and people. A self-proclaimed “documentary geek.” his first film as an autodidact director, ‘Because You’re Here’ – an intimate portrait of Ptown’s Town Crier – premiered at Provincetown International Film Festival and garnered the 2018 Best New England Shorts Award. The film played, with critical acclaim, at festivals around the US.
As a former partner at the global business services firm Ernst & Young (EY), Syers lead the New York & Boston commercial real estate and hospitality division, developing leadership and budgetary skills that have served him as a filmmaker. During his 20 year tenure he also co-founded EY’s LGBTQ group in the US in early 2000’s, becoming the first openly gay partner at EY. This thrust him into the LGBTQ advocacy and activism realm where he collaborated with other top tier global corporations to find intersectionality with LGBTQ organizations like Out Leadership, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, and HRC. He was among a select group of LGBTQ leaders who worked with President Obama’s administration and met directly with then Vice-President Biden to help shape the White House’s equality policy, including championing marriage equality. He also served as an advisor for the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations. Mike has been heralded in the press as one of the most influential LGBTQ corporate leaders in the United States from 2006 until his retirement.
He served on the board of the Provincetown Film Society and founded the Provincetown Filmmakers’ Group in 2022, that has grown from ten to over fifty members in less than a year – a collaborative to expand local filmmaking in America’s Oldest Art Colony. His latest film ‘There Are Things To Do’, about renown LGBTQ activist Urvashi Vaid, is currently in festivals as he plans a social impact campaign for the piece. A very private person, he continues to study the craft of filmmaking. Mike is a proud and out dad, and finds respite in Ptown’s natural beauty, and quiet moments with his long-term boyfriend.
I’m profoundly proud to create THERE ARE THINGS TO DO (18 min), a documentary about Urvashi Vaid and her life in Provincetown, MA. Urvashi was one of the most important LGBTQ+ activists of our lifetime, yet most people have not heard of her. She was one of early pioneers in the gay rights movement leading change for over four decades and inspiring generations of activist.
Urvashi worked visibly on national platforms. In 1993 she was one of the keynote speakers at the 1993 LGBTQ March on Washington, speaking in front of 1 million people. However, she firmly believed the effectiveness of activism is rooted at the community level and she lived by that motto in Provincetown. “All change starts local as that is where we live and where communities are formed.”
The film title is based on the name of the last chapter in Urvashi’s book Virtual Equality, a visionary plan for the future of LGBTQ activism. Written in Provincetown in 1993, her vision for “the movement,” is a road map of initiatives that progressives continue to work for today. The film is also a love story between Urvashi & her partner of 34 years Kate Clinton, the renown LGBTQ comedian/activist/author. Provincetown was a place for Urvashi to recharge as she went out into the world to do her movement leading work.
Urvashi passed away at age 63 in May 2022 from breast cancer and if you ‘Google’ her name you will find hundreds of articles on her passing & lifetime work in outlets from The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, etc., as well as posts countless LGBTQ+ non profit organizations. She has been honored by a long list of organizations and mentored some of the most important gay rights leaders of our time. There’s a campaign to put Urvashi on a United States postage stamp.
This is the first documentary made about Urvashi since her passing and includes historic archival video some of which has never been seen before from public and private archives, including footage from the archives of LGBTQ activist Tim McCarthy. .
The film premiered at the 25th Provincetown International Film Festival with five full house screenings, receiving praise from audiences and media alike. As Roger Walker-Dack film reviewer from QueerGuru.com says “You’ll regret you’ve not done more yourself, and you’ll regret you didn’t know more of her. You’ll have a good cry and then you’ll want to move to Provincetown.”
My goal, as we embark on a social impact campaign, is that the film presents tools for a new generation of activists and as a reminder “there are things to do” for all of us in championing equal rights for LGBTQ people everywhere. And, that the best place to start is at home
Burns Court Cinema Downtown Sarasota 506 Burns Ct, Sarasota, FL 34236
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