Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Lesbian Film
Short Take: Documentary about country music star Chely Wright
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2011
Duration: 120 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Bobbie Birleffi, Beverly Kopf
Writer:
Starring: Chely Wright

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Wish Me AwayOn the 2011 lesbian and gay film festival circuit, my biggest surprise was Wish Me Away, a very moving portrayal of country music star Chely Wright’s coming out process. The documentary is far and above the usual talking heads, as it provides such an intimate portrait of Chely that you feel you really get to know her and her struggles.

Before the professional filmmakers move in, we also see Wright with a handheld camera, literally agonizing over being in the closet, but worried about her career. She hit it big in Nashville with the number one hit “Single White Female” and top 40 hits like “Shut Up and Drive.” Her music and lyrics are an intricate part of the film itself.

You don’t have to even like country music to appreciate this documentary. Wright decides that if she ends up without a music career, she will dedicate her life to advocacy for lgbt rights, and she slides right in to working on anti-bullying campaigns shortly after coming out.

We see her dealing with family issues as well, and as a Christian, she worries about the flack she will receive from the core country audience. Her spiritual advisor Welton Gaddy makes sure that she faces up to the fact that it could get ugly. As he reminds her, “There’s nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.'”

Wright has also written a book about her experiences, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer. (AB)