When you’re logging on for your next lockdown cinema session, keep these lez/bi creatives in mind…
BY CHARLIE VOGELSANG. PHOTO BY LORENCE LOZANO
Female directors are often side-lined by the movie industry with the focus falling instead on popular male directors. Since the Academy Awards began in 1929, only one woman has won the award for Best Director (one!) Women are ignored as filmmakers, and queer female and non-binary filmmakers are often overlooked even more so.
Despite this, there are many excellent lez/bi directors working in the film industry, each having made important contributions to cinema. They’re leading examples of the benefits diversity and challenging age-old ideas around filmmaking brings to Hollywood…
Known for her biggest film, The Kids Are All Right, Cholodenko uses her life experiences to influence her films. Initially entering the film industry, she was faced with the label of “lesbian director” (has anyone ever said, “heterosexual director”?). A talented writer and director, Cholodenko is an award-winning creative who’s been working in TV and film since 1991. The Kids Are All Right follows a lesbian couple and their two children conceived by artificial insemination. A brilliant comedy-drama about a modern family – it’s magnificent, uplifting viewing.
New York City-born Akhavan’s films are contemporary and extremely powerful. Her latest film The Miseducation Of Cameron Post is a harrowing – but equally entertaining – story of a teenager sent to a gay conversion therapy centre in the US in the 90s. Akhavan, who identifies as bisexual/queer, is a filmmaker who’s unafraid to express herself – and that shows in her work. Starting with her debut Appropriate Behaviour all the way up to her recent London-based series The Bisexual for Channel 4. (Both very much worth a watch).
Known for her experimental films, Dunye’s work often focuses on themes of race and sexuality, particularly relating to the lives and experiences of Black lesbians. Her feature debut, The Watermelon Woman, explores the history of Black women and lesbians in the film industry. A personal recommendation of hers to watch is The Owls which follows a lesbian couple who accidentally kill a woman and try to hide the body – when a mysterious stranger shows up to interfere with their plan. An incredibly talented and important filmmaker, Dunye deserves more recognition and acclaim. There’s no other director like her.
With over 40 TV directing credits to her name, Babbit is a veteran director. She identifies as lesbian and lives with her wife in LA. Beginning her career in 1996, she has directed 11 films with her latest being The Stand-In which follows a disaffected comedy actress. She’s a proud feminist filmmaker with a fantastic sense of humour which shows in her films. Despite the tough subjects, she isn’t afraid to push boundaries. Begin your viewing with But I’m a Cheerleader to get a sense of her style and tone. (Rumoured to be coming to TV soon…)
Her debut film, Pariah, was semi-autobiographical and detailed the journey of a young Person Of Colour as they come to terms with their sexuality, coming out to friends and family. Rees is a filmmaker who uses her own experiences in her films – such as her parents not accepting her sexuality and how she dealt with that. Whilst her movies are becoming more mainstream, she’s a successful and proud lez/bi director who deserves more recognition. Be sure to give Pariah a watch – it’s an emotional piece of work that demonstrates her amazing directing skills and will leave you stunned.
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