The Dads: Redefining Masculinity through Unconditional Love

Dennis Shepard and another man outside hugging
Documentary filmmaker Luchina Fisher discusses her latest film, "The Dads." The film follows five fathers of transgender children and Dennis Shepherd, the father of Matthew Shepherd, as they embark on a powerful fishing trip in rural Oklahoma. Fisher discusses the themes of love, healing, and the challenges faced by these fathers.

Talented documentary filmmaker Luchina Fisher dives into her powerful and emotional short film called “The Dads,” which centers around the stories of five fathers who have transgender children. Joining them on a transformative fishing trip is Dennis Shepherd, the father of Matthew Shepherd, a gay man who was tragically murdered twenty-five years ago. This short film, available on Netflix, may only be twelve minutes long, but it leaves a lasting impact. Luchina takes us through the journey of these fathers and the challenges they face, yet despite the struggles, the film carries a message of love and resilience.


Luchina on Instagram: @luchinafisher

LUCHINA FISHER (she/her) is an award-winning director, writer and producer whose work is at the intersection of race, gender and identity. Her feature directorial debut MAMA GLORIA was a 2022 GLAAD Media Award nominee and broadcast on PBS. Her latest film, the short documentary THE DADS, about five fathers of trans kids on a weekend fishing trip, premiered at SXSW and was acquired by Netflix. The film made DOC NYC’S 2023 Shortlist, won Best Documentary Short at the El Paso Film Festival and an audience award at NewFest. Luchina’s short documentary TEAM DREAM, executive produced by Queen Latifah, was a finalist for The Wrap’s Shortlist and has won numerous festival jury awards. Her second feature LOCKED OUT, about the barriers to Black homeownership, won Best Documentary Feature at the American Black Film Festival, the “Shine the Light” Award at the Freep Festival and an audience award at Woods Hole Film Festival. Earlier this year, Fisher was awarded the PitchBLACK Film Forum’s top prize for her new project about Black queer representation in music. She is the director of two scripted short films and has written and produced several nationally broadcast documentaries. Her work has been supported by Black Public Media, the Field Foundation, Sisters in Cinema, Brown Girl Doc Mafia, the Queen Collective, Women Make Movies, the Athena Film Festival’s Works in Progress Program, Firelight Media and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Luchina also teaches documentary filmmaking at Yale University.

The last time Dennis Shepard went fishing with his son was 1998. A few short months later, Matthew Shepard was brutally slain in an anti-gay hate crime that reverberated globally, ushering in sweeping hate crime legislation many hoped would pave the way for lasting equality. Now, 25 years later, five fathers of trans children join Dennis for another fishing trip, in a moment when the civil rights of their kids – and kids just like them – are being rolled back across the United States and around the world. The simple moments on the river bring healing: the beauty and craft of tying a lure; the peacefulness of standing by the water with trusted friends; the respect and love they feel for nature. But as documented in this candid and emotional short from director Luchina Fisher and executive producer Dwyane Wade, the trip offers a rare opportunity for these fathers to speak openly and honestly with others who understand their fears all too well. They’re willing to put everything on the line for their children, but it’s clear they cannot survive in isolation – it will take all of them together to protect trans youth, in this generation and beyond. Release Date: November 17, 2023 Format: Documentary film (Short) Directed & Produced By: Luchina Fisher Executive Producers: Dwyane Wade and Jon Marcus Featuring: Stephen Chukumba, Frank Gonzales, Jose Trujillo, Peter Betz, Wayne Maines, Dennis Shepard Logline: In this gentle meditation on fatherhood, brotherhood and manhood, five fathers of trans children join Dennis Shepard – the father of slain gay college student Matthew Shepard – for a weekend fishing trip in rural Oklahoma. As the men cast their lines into the river, they find common ground across racial, geographical and generational lines: their unconditional love for their children.

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