Reclaiming Masculinity: The Honor Project Documentary Highlights Amazing Dads

By Nancy Flory Published on June 16, 2019

“These men were so honest. I felt like I was holding their hearts with both hands.”

Emily Hibard’s first film — a documentary called The Honor Project — will be released on Father’s Day. It’s a film about men reclaiming masculinity and passing down to their children what that means. The Honor Project isn’t political or religious, but in many ways, it’s Emily’s answer to the idea of “toxic masculinity” so prevalent these days. Rather, it’s about fatherhood and men with character. “It’s my way of pushing back with a smile but not backing down. It’s like, ‘Here are 20 amazing dads. Say what you will, here are 20.'”

Being Masculine

The men initially had a hard time defining masculinity, Emily explained, because the culture says, “Guys aren’t supposed to be masculine or manly [and] they knew that. They all knew, ‘I’m not supposed to speak on this. I’m supposed to be quiet, I’m supposed to back down.’ It took a little coaxing.” 

Emily found that the men’s definitions of masculinity changed the moment they became fathers. They didn’t have to prove they were strong and aggressive tough guys. “There was an inner confidence, there was an inner strength, they became softer.” 

And Baby Makes Three

Some of the fathers cried while recalling the birth of their children. “The moment that it was real, just for a moment, was when they were handed to me for the first time,” said Matt Barnes. “And I just lost it.”

For the most part, the fathers knew their lives had changed forever. “I was no longer number one,” said Larry Rodriguez. “When I found out she was pregnant, and then when I found out she was going to have a son, things started to change inside of me. There’s not much in life that can really clarify what’s really important like [a new baby] can. My life meant nothing. It wasn’t about me anymore. And I believe fatherhood is that.”

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Police officer Michael Nguyen said having a child was life-changing. “You don’t think you could love something so much until you have a child. I love my wife, but when you have this little human being right in front of you, it teaches you to love even more. It’s like a new, different level of love that you’ve never experienced before.”

The Thoenes had only been married a short while when Brock found out that his wife was pregnant. He asked her how they were going to manage with a baby. “She said, ‘It’ll be different, but it’ll be great.’ And she was right.”

Honoring Dad

“I would love to see honor get brought back,” said Emily. Women “have this ability to be kind and sensitive and gentle and honor a man in a way that’s really unique. I’d love for viewers to catch on to Honor Project Documentary — Here’s a woman filmmaker honoring 20 men. I’d love to see that.” 

Emily is a cheerleader of sorts for dads everywhere. “I’d like guys to know I’m cheering for you. It’s rough out there, particularly right now. It’s really rough.”

The Hibard Group will first release the documentary on DVD and download on on Father’s Day. By the end of the year, Emily expects to have it on iTunes and Google play — “all of the places that people stream and download.” A kid-friendly red carpet event will be held June 16 at Desert Reign Church in Downey California.


Nancy Flory is an Associate Editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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