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Social Worker’s film on murder of Talana Kreeger to premiere at North Carolina festival

“Park View,”ParkView the film by social worker Tab Ballis about the 1990 murder of Talana Quay Kreeger, will premiere in North Carolina on September 24-26 at the Winston-Salem Out at the Movies International Film Festival.

Kreeger’s body was found in the woods near Wilmington, NC. Kreeger, who was lesbian, was the victim of a hate crime. Due to her sexuality, churches and funeral homes refused to take her body and police blamed the victim, saying it was not in the best interest of people who are LGBTQIA+ to be so visibile.

Ballis, MSW, is a National Association of Social Workers member and a creative consultant in film, theater, creative writing, journalism and professional events. He began working on the film 15 years ago and previewed “Park View” in Wilmington, NC in February 2020. Over the last year he has edited and improved the film. Ballis said he was even able to find a relative of Kreeger who provided rare childhood photos.

“It had been our intent to humanize the victim,” Ballis said. “As a older, white, heterosexual, cisgender social worker, I had my own hill to climb. I had to make sure I was depicting the (LGBTQIA+) culture authentically and I had to make sure I was including queer voices in the documentary.”

Talana Quay Kreeger

Talana Quay Kreeger

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly dampened live screenings of films. Ballis said the film attracted packed audiences at the Wilmington preview before the pandemic and he is hopeful the premiere at the Out at the Movies International Film Festival will lead to a distribution deal, including getting the film featured on a streaming service.

Kreeger was murdered by long-haul truck driver Ronald Thomas, who she met at the Park View Grill. Kreeger hitched a ride with Thomas to go to eat but never made it to the fast-food restaurant. Thomas, who was sentenced to life for her murdered, confessed that Kreeger “mouthed off” at him when he made sexual advances toward her. Some accounts say they also argued over her sexuality.

Although Kreeger died 30 years ago, Ballis said the circumstances of her death still resonate and he hopes the film will raise dialogues about the need for more legal protections for people who are LGBTQIA+.

“It is still relevant for a number of reasons,” he said. “North Carolina is still in the minority of states that has not hate crime protections for people who are LGBTQ.”

Not able to watch “Park View” at the festival? You can stream the film through the Winston-Salem Out at the Movies International Film Festival website.  

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