We think this movie stands out for:
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine explores the life and tragic death of a young gay man, including the aftermath of his terrible hate-crime murder. Despite the tragic subject, the film explores friendship, love, and forgiveness, rather than focusing on the anger and intolerance that triggered Shepard's death. The film includes some hurtful images and homophobic slurs, as well as some graphic images of Shepard's battered body; a brutal rape is also discussed. But grappling with the difficult subject matter is worth it; this is an important film with a message that's valuable for older teens.
What's the story?
In October 1998, gay college student Matt Shepard was found tied to a fence in Wyoming, beaten, bloody, and battered. He didn't survive the terrible assault, and his death became national news, shining a stark spotlight on the homophobia that spurred such a horrible crime. MATT SHEPARD IS A FRIEND OF MINE reveals Shepard's life before the attack and discusses the impact of his murder through a series of in-depth interview with his friends and parents. The documentary brings Shepard to life and examines the aftermath of the crime, including how it helped make hate crimes a more common part of the cultural discussion.
Is it any good?
Prepare to have your heart broken by this incredibly moving documentary, which adds texture to the Matt Shepard we've come to know from the headlines. With every minute, Shepard's many layers fall away like a proverbial onion, and our eyes can't help but well up with emotion. Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine is a deft movie, sensitive to its participants -- Shepard's parents speak candidly of their sorrow -- and anchored by the devotion of his friends (one of whom narrates the documentary). In every scene, we feel their deep sense of loss. But there's inspiration here, too: Shepard's parents are a testament to the power of love, inspiring viewers to access their own generosity and humanity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Matt Shepard's life and death. How did he affect the people around him, and how did they respond to his death?
How did Shepard's parents handle losing their son? Why are they so forgiving? Do you think other people would react the same way?
Talk to your kids about hate crimes and violence. How can tragedies like Shepard's death become touchstones that change opinions and open minds?
Find more movies that help kids build character.
For kids who love true stories
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.