37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL Oct 30-Nov 3, 2024

37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL October 30-November 3, 2024

Beyond the Screen: A Virtual Conversation on ‘A SECRET LOVE’


Join the Virginia Film Festival for a virtual conversation on the new documentary A Secret Love; featuring the film’s director Chris Bolan, Producer Alexa L. Fogel, and Producer and Co-Writer Brendan Mason; moderated by Bonnie Hagerman, Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality at UVA.

This event is part of the Virginia Film Festival’s Beyond the Screen: A Virtual Conversation Series. All discussions in the series are free, open to the public, livestreamed on Zoom, and archived on the VAFF’s YouTube channel. Pre-registration is required to attend the livestreamed Zoom conversations. Related films are available to rent or purchase through various streaming platforms prior to the scheduled discussion. For more information on how to pre-register for each virtual conversation and where to stream each filmvisit virginiafilmfestival.org/year-round-events.

More about the film: 

A Secret Love
tells an incredible love story between Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, whose relationship spans nearly seven decades. Terry played in the women’s professional baseball league, inspiring the hit movie A League of Their Own. But the film did not tell the real-life story of the women who remained closeted for most of their lives. This documentary follows Terry and Pat back to when they met for the first time, through their professional lives in Chicago, coming out to their conservative families, and grappling with whether or not to get married. Facing the hardships of aging and illness, their love proves resilient as they enter the home stretch.

Available to stream on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80209024.

More about the participants:

CHRIS BOLAN, DIRECTOR: Bolan has had a career both on and off-Broadway and has performed as an actor with many top regional theater companies in both the United States and Canada while also working in film and television. In 2016 Bolan was Artistic Director for the critically acclaimed European Premiere production of Oh Hell No! at the Alfo Puccini Theater in Milan, Italy and has directed legendary LGBTQ and Civil Rights Activist, David Mixner, in three World Premiere productions at the Florence Gould Theater in NYC. Bolan recently directed the documentary feature film, A Secret Love, based on a member of the All- American Girls Professional Baseball League made famous by the Hollywood movie, A League of Their Own. A Secret Love premiered on Netflix in 2020 and was produced by Ryan Murphy Productions, Blumhouse Television, NowThis, and Beech Hill Films. Chris is a recipient of the Jerome Foundation Emerging Artists Award for directing and is also a Founding Partner of Sweet T Productions with recent projects including the Broadway production of The Sound Inside starring Mary-Louise Parker, directed by David Cromer, as well as the Broadway National Touring Production of Jitney, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Bolan is a company member of the award-winning New York based Wheelhouse Theater Company and is a member of the Board of Directors for LUMBERYARD Center for Film and Performing Arts. Bolan holds his MFA in acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and is part of the adjunct faculty in the theater department at Western Connecticut State University

ALEXA L. FOGEL, PRODUCER: Alexa L. Fogel captured three Emmy awards for her work as the casting director on True Detective and NYPD Blue and has earned five additional nominations. Some of her numerous casting credits include The Plot Against America, The Outsider, The Politician, Pose, The Deuce, Ozark, Atlanta, Chambers, Warrior, Quarry, Banshee, Treme, Ripper Street, The Wire, Generation Kill, Show Me a Hero, Oz, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Too Big to Fail, Our Brand is Crisis, The Sitter, and Red Tails. Upcoming projects include Netflix’s The Prom and films The Unt. Fred Hampton Project directed by Shaka King, and Rob Peace directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Through her Beech Hill Films banner, Alexa recently produced the feature documentary A Secret Love​ –​ SXSW 2020 Official Selection – about former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player Terry Donahue.  She produced the recently released feature film One Last Thing, starring Wendell Pierce, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Joanne Froggatt. Recent projects include This is Where We Live, Helena From the Wedding, Run, Fat Boy, Run, directed by David Schwimmer and starring Simon Pegg and Thandie Newton, A Hole in One, starring Michelle Williams, Face, and Our Song.

BONNIE HAGERMAN, MODERATOR: Bonnie Hagerman graduated cum laude from Princeton University in 1991. After teaching high school history and social studies for five years, she pursued graduate studies at Ohio University, where she earned her Ph.D. in History with a concentration on American social history. She has taught at the University of Virginia since 2008 and is an Assistant Professor, General Faculty, in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality, where she also serves as Director of Undergraduate Programs. Hagerman has taught a variety of courses for the department including A History of Gender & Sexuality, 1865 to the Present, A History of Feminism in America, and courses that explore women, gender and sport.

BRENDAN MASON, PRODUCER & CO-WRITER: Mason produced and co-wrote the documentary feature A Secret Love, a Netflix Original Documentary presented by Ryan Murphy, in association with Blumhouse and Now This. A Secret Love is a triumphant love story about two trailblazing women who break barriers and conventional norms, coming out to their conservative families as they face the difficulties of aging (SXSW ’20 World Premiere, released by Netflix in 2020). His previous film, One Last Thing, starring Wendell Pierce, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Joanne Froggatt, was released by Screen Media Films and BET in 2018 and is currently on Netflix. This is Where We Live premiered in 2013 at SXSW in Narrative Competition and was released in November of 2013. In 2010, he produced Helena From The Wedding, starring Melanie Lynskey and Lee Tergesen, released by Film Movement, and premiering in competition at SXSW. Longtime producing partners with Alexa L. Fogel, Mason has also worked on such productions as Run, Fat Boy, Run (Picturehouse), A Hole in One and Jimmy Blue (NYFF ‘06). During his tenure at Beech Hill, Brendan has worked in various capacities in both development and production. Prior to Beech Hill, Mason worked at Paramount Pictures.


Wednesday, June 17


3:00 PM


Virtual Discussion