LAVENDER LIMELIGHT: LESBIANS IN FILM features interviews with seven prominent women directors who offer refreshing and amusing insights into the world of independent filmmaking.
Filmmaker Marc Mauceri gives his subjects the floor, adding very little extemporaneous footage or expository narration. His interview subjects--Jennie Livingston, Rose Troche, Monika Treut, Maria Maggenti, Su Friedrich, Heather Lyn MacDonald and Cheryl Dunye--discuss their varying backgrounds, and
the tenuous and often amusing way they came into independent filmmaking. Other topics covered include the blessings and burdens of being known as a "lesbian filmmaker"; how a lesbian identity can emerge in one's work; and the temptation of the mainstream film world (on that latter count, it is the
understanding amongst these women that working with a bigger budget is tempting, but having a lasting impact with one's work is more important).
Two of the subjects speak about the ways in which their debut features afforded them a new understanding of themselves. Speaking eloquently about the making of her acclaimed documentary about drag culture, PARIS IS BURNING (1990), Livingston candidly reveals how she became fascinated by the sight
of men "vogueing" in Washington Square Park in New York. The experience of watching these men "deconstructing the very fabric of how we construct our identities" served as a vehicle for her to come to terms with her own sexual identity. Troche had an even more emotionally direct experience in the
making of her film GO FISH (1994). She and her collaborator Guinevere Turner had been lovers, but broke up during the shooting of the film and yet continued to get on well. She notes here that somehow the desire to get the movie finished on such a low budget allowed the couple to keep their
"demons at bay."
Other notable insights imparted in the film include the reflections of German maverick Monica Treut (DIDN'T DO IT FOR LOVE) who speaks about the validity of the documentary mode, and the 1990s "trend" in lesbian independents. Maria Maggenti (THE INCREDIBLY TRUE ADVENTURE OF TWO GIRLS IN LOVE)
speaks about the huge responsibility that comes with addressing the needs of the gay community in the context of a feature film. Cheryl Dunye (THE WATERMELON WOMAN) expresses interest in the future of lesbian cinema, after the "magical moment in the mid 90s" ends.
Mauceri clearly doesn't intend LAVENDER LIMELIGHT to be an all-encompassing survey of lesbian filmmaking; he simply lets the camera run, thus allowing a greater intimacy between each interview subject and the viewer. This produces some genuinely charming moments, as when Livingston
enthusiastically recalls writing a letter to Werner Herzog and receiving a suitably eccentric response; as communicated by Mauceri, her joy over this event is positively contagious.
One wishes, though, that Mauceri had expanded his focus to cover filmmakers whose work prefigured the 1990s vogue in lesbian filmmaking. A brief prologue mentioning the work of true pioneers like Dorothy Arnzer (DANCE, GIRL, DANCE) and the inclusion of interviews with more recent (but now
unfortunately forgotten) trailblazers like Donna Deitch (whose DESERT HEARTS garnered much attention in 1985) might've been able to lend a valuable sense of perspective to the words of the relative newcomers who are interviewed here. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: LAVENDER LIMELIGHT: LESBIANS IN FILM features interviews with seven prominent women directors who offer refreshing and amusing insights into the world of independent filmmaking. Filmmaker Marc Mauceri gives his subjects the floor, adding very little extem… (more)