the laramie project


Christina Ricci came to Provo, Utah, in 1992 and 1995 for the Sundance Institute Directors Labs. She is pictured reading a script alongside her mother, Sarah, in 1992 and alongside filmmaker Amanda Donahue in 1995 at the Sundance Resort. Ricci has since appeared in six Sundance Film Festival features, including Black Snake Moan, The Laramie Project, and Buffalo 66.

© 1992 | Photo by Sandria Miller for Sundance Institute, © 1995 | Photo by Sandria Miller for Sundance Institute


My son Matthew did not look like a winner. He was rather uncoordinated, and wore braces from the age of thirteen till the day he died. However, in his all too brief life, my son proved that he could win. On october 6th, 1998, my son tried to show the world that he could win again. On october 12th 1998, my son and my hero, lost. On october 12th, 1998, my son and my hero, died, fifty days before his twenty-second birthday. 

I keep wondering the same thing I did the first day I saw him in the hospital. What would he have become? How could he have changed his piece of the world to make it better?

Matt officially died in a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado. He actually died on the outskirts of Laramie, tied to a fence. You, Mr. Mckinney, with your friend Mr. Henderson left him out there all by himself. But he wasn’t alone. He had his lifelong friends with him; friends that he had grown up with. You’re probably wondering who these friends were. Well first, he had the beautiful night sky, and the same stars and moon that we used to see through a telescope. He had the sun and daylight to shine on him. And through it all he was breathing in the scent from the snowy ranges. He heard the wind, the ever-present Wyoming wind for the last time. He had one more friend with him. He had God, and I feel better knowing that he wasn’t alone.

Matt’s beating, hospitalization, and funeral focussed worldwide attention on hate. Good is coming out of evil. People are saying enough is enough. I miss my son, but I am proud to say that he is my son. 

Judy has been quoted as being against the death penalty. It has been stated that Matthew was also against the death penalty. Both of these statements are wrong. Matthew believed that there were certain crimes and incidents that justified the death penalty. I too believe in the death penalty, and I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. Mckinney. However, this is the time to begin the healing process. To show mercy to one who refused to show any. Mr. Mckinney, I grant you life, as hard as it is for me to do so, because of Matthew. Every time you celebrate Christmas, a birthday, the fourth of july know that Matthew isn’t. Everyday you wake up in your prison cell, know that you had the chance to stop your actions that night. You robbed me of something very special, and I can never forgive you for that. Mr. Mckinney, I grant you life in memory of one who no longer lives. May you have a long life, and may you thank Matthew every day for it.

Don’t make matters worse… you think violence is what they did to Matthew – they did do violence to Matthew – but, you know, every time that you are called a fag, or you are called a, you know, a lez or… a dyke. Do you realize that is violence? That is the seed of violence.
—  Father Roger Shmit, to interviewers from The Tectonic Theatre Group, as quoted in The Laramie Project

The full film adaptation of The Laramie Project, available for free on YouTube. Well worth a watch if you have never seen it.

Doc O'Conner: “I remembered something to myself. The night he and I drove around together, he said, ‘Laramie sparkles, doesn’t it?’ And where he was in that spot up there, if you sit exactly in that spot up there, Laramie sparkles. With the low-lying clouds, it’s - uh - it’s the blue lights that bounce off the clouds. And it goes over the whole city. I mean, I mean, it blows you away. And Matt was right there in that spot. And I can just picture - in his eyes - what he was seeing. And the last thing that he saw on this Earth was the sparkling lights of Laramie, Wyoming.”

The Laramie Project, 2002