Oscar-winning documentarian Rob Epstein recently had a chat with The Advocate, about his legendary documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk. With the new Gus Van Sant biopic on its way to theaters, Epstein reflects on his own film as well as the legacy of Milk, the man. Plus, Cinetic has now made The Times of Harvey Milk available on Amazon VOD. See it for yourself, right now. From Rob Epstein’s Advocate interview:
ADVOCATE: How involved were you in the other attempts to get this story off the ground over the last 20-odd years?
EPSTEIN: I haven’t had direct involvement — I mean, I first met Gus when The Times of Harvey Milk came out and Mala Noche, his first film, came out at the same time. We met probably at the gay film festival at the Castro back then. I guess it was a little later that I got wind that Oliver Stone was trying to develop [Milk’s] story. Gus claims that I mentioned it to him and said that he was the one to do it, which I always did feel, that he was the one to do it. But then over the years, I haven’t had direct involvement. I think that The Times of Harvey Milk has had direct involvement — the film has more than me, personally.
ADVOCATE: It’s hard not to notice some of the similarities between Harvey Milk and Barack Obama — both men were minority candidates who succeeded against an entrenched political machine due in part to a strong message of hope. Would you agree?
EPSTEIN: Oh, absolutely. I think they are kindred spirits, in terms of their ability to bring people together. That’s very much what Harvey was about and what he stood for. He was democratizing the early gay rights movement and finding a way to make it part of the government of San Francisco at that time — certainly, that’s what Obama is about on a much grander, bigger scale. I definitely see the parallels. Maybe if Harvey was alive, it would have been Obama-Milk!
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