In her father’s church

Charissa King-O'Brien wedding
Charissa King-O’Brien married her partner in the Long Island church where her father is pastor. In documenting her journey, she redefined her views of the “f word.”

Charissa King-O’Brien, whose film In My Father’s Church will kick off the Sixth Annual F-Word Film Festival at UNCA, never considered her work “feminist.” But as she grappled with the label last week — while caring for her flu-ridden partner and nine-month-old twin daughters — she began to develop her own definition of feminism and how she practices it.

“I’ve been thinking about how being a mother is one form of being a feminist,” King-O’Brien says. “Securing a better place for my daughters so that they are treated equally and fairly when they are older is what feminism means to me.”

Ironically, when King-O’Brien first came out to her parents, they fretted that she would never have children.

“My mother thought she wouldn’t have grandchildren,” says the filmmaker, whose girls were born on her fourth wedding anniversary.

She recorded her parents’ concerns in In My Father’s Church, which documented her desire to wed her partner Kelly in the Long Island church where her father served as pastor. Although her father always privately supported her relationship, his participation in the ceremony was complicated by Methodism’s official stance against same-sex marriages. King-O’Brien was reluctant to reveal the film’s ending, but called the wedding “a great moment.”

Now an MFA student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the filmmaker says making the movie allowed her to explore issues she might have avoided if the demands of documentary filmmaking hadn’t nudged her to ask tough questions. Safely behind the camera, she felt comfortable confronting Kelly’s mother when she referred to the planned nuptials as “a wedding, but not quite.”

“People were honest within the film,” King-O’Brien hints.

She’s now working on a film about fertility and the moon.

“It’s a nice piece to broaden one’s perspective, because I’m not really leaning toward one point of view.”

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