Non-binary photographer Jay embarks on a trip to reconnect with the past and find a fresh start in the wake of separation
BY GEORGIA DIMDORE-MILES, IMAGE BY BFI FLARE
Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your experience so far as an LGBTQIA+ filmmaker?
I’ve been making LGBTQIA+ films for about 20 years as a writer, director, actor, and producer. Maybe Someday is my fifth feature and first dramedy. The others have all been comedies, including the first lesbian comedy trilogy – Butch Jamie, Heterosexual Jill, and S&M Sally.
What are three adjectives that capture your film’s spirit?
Bittersweet, nostalgic, lighthearted.
What inspired you to submit your film to BFI Flare and what does it mean to you?
I’ve heard so many great things about the festival and knew it would be the perfect place for our UK premiere. It’s such an honour to be part of their line-up, and I’m excited to attend the festival to do a Q&A and meet the audience for both of our screenings.
Why do you think onscreen representation at BFI Flare is valuable for LGBTQIA+ audiences and allies?
Seeing ourselves reflected onscreen can be so powerful and validating. There’s nothing like that feeling you get when a film speaks directly to you. In addition to that though, representation also helps the LGBTQIA+ community and allies better understand the diversity in our community and the variety of issues we face so that we can be stronger together. And experiencing that at a film festival in a community of like-minded people elevates that experience even more.
Part of BFI Flare is the #FiveFilmsForFreedom initiative – five films are streamed for free for audiences globally. It invites everyone everywhere to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities in countries where freedom and equal rights are limited. Why do you think this is important?
Making these films accessible to audiences around the world is so important to share some of these stories with people who may not have the same kind of access to LGBTQIA+ films, or the safety to view them in public. And for those who are isolated from the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s especially validating and affirming to finally see others on screen who are like you. I read that these films are translated into many different languages, which is so important since independent films oftentimes just get translated into a few languages if at all, so that increases the accessibility of these films exponentially.
Could you tell us a bit about your film and the themes it explores?
The story follows Jay, a non-binary 40-something photographer, as she attempts to move across the country in the midst of separating from her wife. Along the way, she takes a detour to stay with her high school best friend who she used to be secretly in love with, and befriends a lonely gay comedian who adds humour and levity to her life. It is my hope with the film to portray a more realistic version than what we usually see of moving forward after heartbreak, to normalise the idea that it isn’t just time that heals us; it’s our own willingness and participation in the process.
If you had to choose one film that inspired this feature, what would it be?
It’s hard to say. I wrote this script because it portrays a common experience that isn’t generally portrayed in-depth onscreen, which is being stuck in the grief of heartbreak. Mostly it was inspired by my own personal experiences, although it’s been heavily fictionalised as well. However, I watched some films during the writing process that had a similar feel to help guide and inspire me. I can’t say that my film resembles it very much, but The Skeleton Twins was one that I watched for that, also because it features two comedic actors tackling a more dramatic movie which was similar to what I was trying to do as well.
What do you hope LGBTQIA+ audiences take away from the film?
I hope they see how sometimes we prolong our own grief. That we need to be active participants in our healing process, and that moving on can be difficult and scary but refusing to do so delays the inevitable. The one thing I wish I would have learned many years ago – to let go sooner, and more gracefully.
What is your favourite LGBTQIA+ film of all time?
I love Tipping The Velvet and Sarah Waters in general – just an all round fun movie with gender-bending performances, forbidden lesbian love, and great plot twists. Best In Show, while I don’t consider it an LGBTQIA+ film, has some gay and lesbian characters in it and that’s a classic one for me. It inspired me to shoot my first comedic short film many years ago, which in turn encouraged me to continue doing other comedic films, so it’s had a big impact on my filmmaking career.
Finally, what do you think are the next steps for LGBTQIA+ representation in the film industry?
I’d love to see more non-binary and genderqueer representation. That’s starting to change, but the characters are oftentimes not well-rounded or complex and I think we still have a long way to go before our community is represented and normalised. There’s such diversity within the non-binary community and that’s one of the reasons why I’m passionate about the docuseries I’m doing next, Queering The Binary, which will be delving into non-binary identities and experiences in depth.
Maybe Someday screens at BFI Flare London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival on 19 March, 20:25 and 21 March, 15:30
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