2011. By far my favorite year in lesbian cinema overall.
1-CIRCUMSTANCE (2011) DIR. MARYAM KESHAVARZ STARRING SARAH KAZEMY, NIKOHL BOOSHERI
End of post.
I’m just kidding. I saw this twice in the theaters. This movie is so moving.
It started at the Sundance lab where Maryam Keshavarz got an amazing team to workshop one of the scenes and it easily received financing and grants.
I know this intimately because I applied for the same grants and Maryam got all the money, which is great because this film deserves every bit of attention it got.
This story is about two teenagers in Tehran, Atafeh and Shirin.
Atafeh is from a rich, educated family and Shirin lives (oh I will need to watch this again this might be the wrong relative, I’ll update if I’m wrong) with her Uncle. Their favorite past time is sitting around and talking about when they will get out of Tehran, where they will go, and what they will do.
The two girls are best friends and this story characterizes what people do in Tehran despite the oppression they face; they go to a lot of underground parties.
Throughout the film the two best friends find love in one another and the story gets really dramatic when Shirin is arranged to marry Atafeh’s brother, who is a recovering drug addict and becomes a religious fanatic.
This tale beautifully intertwines the story of the dangers of Tehran, the dangers women face, the obligations women have, and the difficulty of getting out.
I was truly concerned for these characters at each step which is an amazing testament to Maryam’s directing power.
There were so many directions she could have gone and in the social, political climate she wrote you didn’t feel that net of a guaranteed happy ending for anyone. It really creates such a powerful journey.
At each viewing I see new things, in new characters and I have to say what resonates every time is the true inner strength of Shirin. What she faces and how she handles every challenge and decision forced upon her, amazing.
What’s also amazing is the behind the scenes stories. I was fortunate enough to have seen this at Outfest in 2011, are you surprised? and got to listen to Maryam, her DP Brian Rigney Hubbord, and a few of the actors talk about the film.
They actually shot in Lebanon, there was no way they would be able to do this subject matter in Tehran and get out alive. There were so many factors which could have destroyed the project, for instance, the police could come on set any time they want and do whatever they want. At one point they almost had most of their film confiscated. They didn’t get to watch dailies, they had to overnight ship the film stock every day just to get it out of the country. I mean, this film is the epitome of a labour of love.
Definitely look up any interview with these people. What they did to make the film is incredible and the film itself is the definition of art.
This one you can’t rent but have to buy on VOD. I highly recommend buying it, supporting Maryam, and having it in your collection. So worth the $15.
2-CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME (2011) DIR. MADELEINE OLNEK STARRING LISA HAAS, SUSAN ZEIGLER, JACKIE MONAHAN, CYNTHIA KAPLAN
I made the mistake of loading this film onto my iPad for a long flight…I was snorting with laughter in about 15 minutes of the film and decided to turn it off.
I had originally seen this film at the Broad Humor Film Festival in 2012 and there is really no other film like it.
Madeleine Olnek has such an interesting and creative mind. She wasn’t available for the screening at Broad Humor but I did see her at the Q&A for the Foxy Merkins last year and I left feeling like I wanted to grab some beers with her and let her talk. The things she comes up with…
After browsing her website you can also donate to help her continue making movies. I’ll link you directly here. The page shows the Foxy Merkins which has already been made and released but definitely check back to donate for any new projects she may have coming up. There are people we just simply need making movies and Madeleine is one of them.
So this film is about a lonely woman who wants love. She works at a stationary shop and one day a beautiful, yet strange…alien walks in and they fall in love.
The bigger plotline is: aliens from outerspace think large emotions like love are what is destroying the o-zone layer so they send any alien who displays emotion to Earth where they are expected to fall in love and get their heart broken so they never want to love again thus saving the o-zone!
The brilliance in this film are in its details: the way Zoiks laughs while watching movies. Zylar and Barr trying to find sadness at the beach but instead finding it in a revolving cheesecake display at the diner. I mean, there is no good way to review this film apart from saying there are so many easy ways to see it and if you haven’t you must.
I’m going to end this post talking about a webseries.
Guys this webseries is huge but it’s not on any of the lesbian database services I’ve seen.
3-SQUARESVILLE (2012) DIR. MATT ENLOW STARRING MARY KATE WILES, KYLIE SPARKS
I only know about this series because…well I’ll start at the beginning.
My short film is called Once Upon A Zipper. I was so fortunate to work with incredible, incredible talents. Jillian Leigh, who plays Paulie, was in an fantastic feature called Echo Lake (dir. Jody McVeigh Shultz). It’s not lesbian at all but Jody is an amazing storyteller and this film was beautiful. Jillian was in this film and it also starred an actress named Christine Weatherup who is one of the executive producers of Squaresville.
So a little while after the screening, after I became insanely obsessed with webseries, I looked this one up and I was completely floored by how great it is. The best production value out there and the two actresses are great.
So I guess my point is, this one has a huge following but it doesn’t seem to be known that one of the main characters is a lesbian.
This series is about two high school friends who are a couple of nerds and enjoy spending their days making fun of everyone and everything, yeah…that was basically me.
The dialog is so witty. The actresses are magnificent. The stories are funny. The lesbian content isn’t huge. The character is gay but that’s not what it’s about however that’s what programmers and bad BuzzFeed article writers are saying they want so this show needs to be passed around and talked about.
Also, keep an eye out for Jillian. She plays a hipster lesbian poet.
Once Upon A Zipper was her sophomore lesbian project.
Here is the first episode of Squaresville