A few weeks ago I was Facebook messaging with Shauna MacDonald who co-wrote and stars in the award winning film Tru Love. I was telling her how I resonated so strongly with the story because it was my story twenty years ago. Shauna conveyed that she had heard from dozens of women who felt exactly the same way. She was astounded by this and I too was astounded by (spoiler alert) the idea that many women fell in love with their best friend’s mom. I doubt this is a lesbian film pattern that will transcend falling in love with your straight neighbor. But, it does speak to the notion of finding our personal stories in film.
In a highly scientific study– sort of- I asked twenty unrelated lesbians to name the film that they felt was their personal story. Each one could name a few of them and often said, “The writer nailed it.” Surprisingly, one film kept being referred to by nearly all of these women. Topping the list was Elena Undone. This surprised me since only half of these women were in relationships with women who had led a straight life until coming out. None of them had children from previous relationships. None had a new baby. Their ages ranged from 25-55. So, what was the hook in that movie that seemed to be universally the story of such a diverse group of women?
It was one line in the movie. Yes, it was one line that all felt summed up their story. It was the one line that made them feel that the writer knew them. It was that pivotal moment when Elena simply says, “Peyton, make love to me.” One survey respondent stated, “When I heard that I felt that excitement and tentativeness I felt when on a second date with my partner she whispered in my ear, “Let me love you.” Another respondent told me that she remembered the way she felt when she fell in love and wanted to make love but was too afraid to just ask. And another wrote that she saw love and not just sex in the film. This was what her life was now.
There were responses that focused on the disasters of relationships. One person felt Concussion was her story. I decided not to ask why. Did this mean she was a decorator or did she have a “business” on the side? Some stories should remain private. One woman said that she thought Bound was her life on the screen. I found out she married a plumber. Big stretch to make that film her story.
The “a-ha” moment for me from this mini-study was the realization that women want women to write and direct powerful stories and get them out there on the big screen, the small on demand computer screen, and the festival circuit. We want our love stories. We want them tender. We want them raw. We want them to make us see bits and pieces of our own lives. We want to support the independent woman filmmaker so our stories continue to be told. We even want to see ourselves as a brave body proud lover in Foxy Merkins or revenge seeker in Crazy Bitches. We just want more.
Jan Miller Corran, Ph.D., is CEO/President of More Than Friends Productions (MTF). Dr. Corran is a film producer with numerous films to her credit as Executive Producer, Associate Producer or consultant. For a list of her books and films, visit www.morethanfriendsproductions.com