'Miracles' out of Murfreesboro

Following the congressional critique it has received after its first screening, Middle Tennessee State University professor Robert Pondillo’s short film, The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill, will make its premiere at Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre on Tuesday, May 8.

The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill tells the story of Millie (played by Lucy Turner), a selfless, young female longing for true love as she lives a simple life in her house atop Honey Bee Hill. Through a magical turn of events, Millie finds true love, and expectantly wants to share the joyous news with her friends at the Little Stone Church nearby. When the church’s reaction at discovering Millie’s true love in another girl is less than celebratory, it will take an act of God to remind them all to love one another.

Shortly after its First Look screening at MTLambda’s SpringOut festivities in March, The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill received much attention for its message endorsing marriage equality through the use of child actors. Tennessee State Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) requested an investigation into the film’s production and funding after an anonymous student complained about the film’s content and what the student labeled the "exploitation of children".

The film is the creation of Dr. Pondillo and was made by the campus student organization MTSU Film Guild. The MTSU Student Government Association granted the Film Guild $6800 to help make the film, and students, such as producer Diana Rice, took great care to follow all rules and regulations in bringing the script to life. MTSU even submitted a report to the Tennessee Board of Regents that outlined the funding and making of the film with no irregularities reported.

Regarding the allegations of child exploitation, Dr. Pondillo explained that both parents and the child actors were auditioned for the film.

“All parents or guardians read the script,” he said, “all signed releases permitting their kids to fully participate in the movie, and all were on set monitoring the proceedings as the movie was filmed.”

Dr. Pondillo also explains he wrote the film to challenge how we think about relationships between people of the same gender.

“This is a love story told in a very unique way that may, if test audiences are any indication, give some viewers unexpected revelations,” he said.

“I believe that people are scared of what they don’t understand,” said Rice on the initial reception the film, “and many people do not understand the gay community as a whole. This short film is a love story. Whether or not you are an advocate of gay rights, come see the film, open your heart and mind, and view life through a different filter. I hope this film can be that filter.”

Tickets for The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill are general admission, and go on sale Friday, April 27 at 10 a.m. at www.belcourt.org

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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