Oscar-nominated documentary hit by homophobia claims

Guardian Unlimited/March 21, 2002

An Oscar-nominated documentary is embroiled in controversy after allegations that its makers are part of a homophobic organization. The actor Rosie O' Donnell has asked for her name and voice to be removed from the documentary, Artists and Orphans: A True Drama, which is nominated for an Oscar in the documentary shorts category, after discovering that the film-makers are involved in a group that has been described as a homophobic cult.

O'Donnell, who revealed that she is gay, narrated the film about a New York theatre group which travels to the former Soviet republic of Georgia to help orphaned and abandoned children.

The actor, who has been outspoken in support of gay adoption, agreed to help with the project as she herself has three adopted children. She subsequently discovered that the film-makers are involved with the Fourth Way School, which bans homosexuals from its ranks and believes gays shouldn't be allowed to adopt.

O'Donnell's publicist Cindi Berger said, "If Rosie had known the truth about this organization, she never would have consented to lend her name and voice. Rosie is angry that the background wasn't disclosed to her."

David Goldstein, a lawyer representing the film, told New York's Daily News, "to say that Artists and Orphans is the work of some kind of nefarious cult is completely baseless. The inflammatory accusation that certain people affiliated with the film are involved in an organization that endangers the welfare of children or discriminates against... gays and lesbians... is without foundation."

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