The truth is that if you live in a relatively active or active area, it is possible to feel like everyone is queer. From The New York Times'' pronouns to the years second highest-grossing film with a (albeit chaste) same-sex kiss. The mainstream microscope, for queer filmmakers, can be a double-edged sword.
John Waters, for example, is debating being recognized as an openly gay filmmaker. In sharing this experience with Luca Guadagnino, whom he spoke with during the Provincetown Film Festival, the filmmaker said, "Close Me by Your Name." I''ve no conviction in openly anything, Guadagnino said.
There is no doubt that the man who introduced Divine to the world produces queer films, and his work is both defined and defies the same label. However, it is absurdly redundant to label John Waters as a queer filmmaker, as it is to force any other artist with a word that can be both empowering and limited.
It''s not uncommon that Hollywood is a corporation, and most people (and producers) have very little imagination. The same issue plagues every creative field, that selling art is in direct opposition to anything meaningful. In this unprecedented moment when LGBTQ+ stories feel almost overly common, it may appear beneficial to others as a queer filmmaker, but what''s on the other hand?
Four of our favorite queer filmmakers were talked about: Andrew Ahn, who directed the hit gay Asian American rom-com Fire Island, John Cameron Mitchell, who banned Shortbus 15 years after its initial release; Celine Sciamma, who went big in Petite Maman on Prime, Jared Frieder, who won an Emmy nomination for Razor Tongue in 2020.
Quelques interviews were edited and condensed for clarity.
Andrew Ahn: Spa Night for me was a bit of a reaction to campy queer films that I felt like didn''t really capture what I considered about being homosexual and Asian American. And with Fire Island, its a little bit of balancing, like where we can discover more of that joy?
I really like to include Fire Island in this queer cinema legacy. I know there was a lot of desire right now to market films as the first of something. I know Alice Wus Saving Face is a favorite of mine. Its just that Fire Island has marketing money behind it. It is a good idea for me that it encourages people to look back at the fantastic queer canon that we have. And also encourages filmmakers to make their own own Fire Island so that we have a healthy future.
I think it is important that we look for actors who are really three dimensional and they aren''t defined by one aspect of who they are. I really want people to go to independent cinema and film festivals, because there are films there that will scratch an itch that they will never encounter from big budget studio films.
Celine Sciamma: It really depends as independent cinemas are battling everywhere. Those voices that were already the more precarious side of the production. I don''t know that I expect anything from cinema. They can be on Instagram, on TikTok, they can be on TV. They are on TV, and they''ve never been on TV for so long.
I''ve just watched Rothaniel and Jerrod Carmichaels stand-up on HBO. That is so striking as what cinema might, for example. So, I''m just excited for the contemporary. Finally, we must do something about history, since there are incredibly animated films made by lesbian, I know for example, that are not educational, that are not preserved, that have disappeared. If we do, that may disappear.
Im not saying history, im not saying continuity. Every day Im thinking, maybe tonight Im going to watch something that will blow my mind. Because otherwise, it is always about whos best, whos leading, and im really, really, really looking for resonance. This is a language that its been collectively. It is history, but not just about cinema. It''s a language.
Write what you know. It''s not your story to tell an Asian woman who cant have an orgasm, but I appreciate her paralysis. I understand the stalker. And, in my experience, we are a solipsistic society that can never get together.
I think the beginning of the golden era of the 1990s and 2000s, which they claim started with Sex, Lies, and Videotape in 89, but ended probably in 2007 as a result of the economic collapse. Shortbus opened at Cannes in 2006, and saw a massive concert on the beach, and actors showing up, and the films were less and less expensive. I think we might have been one of the last couple of films that were not required to star in that category.
Think about the Everett Collection in Film and Culture.
So now, its like any independent film has to have stars in it, unless its made for half a million dollars, and then your mother paying for it. But everything must have a star in it, because that''s how you get an Oscar nomination and attention. But there are a lot of people who arent, and must be, but they just changed their minds to other forms, including television, to stand-up, to theater, and others. Im so happy to do that myself.
Jared Frieder: It''s so hard to get gay shit made. I never thought it would actually happen for myself, because I had had so much rejection and heard so many nos. So this moment is especially surreal. Its almost impossible. And that''s the truth of my experience. I refuse to speak for anyone else.
I''ve been so grateful that the Greg Berlantis and the Ryan Murphys and the Joey Soloways of the world have existed, because they are capable of producing stuff. But for up-and-coming professionals like myself and my friends, it''s really challenging. They claim that because of the subject matter, we can''t sell this internationally. I have heard, Were going in another direction. Ive heard. Leadership changes.
People who are buying queer/LGBTQ-protagonist projects are development executives who are younger and up and coming and they are getting to decide what scripts they pay for and what pilots are put into development. However, you must go through these older, more patriarchal, structured businesses to develop. These corporations will pay a hundred thousand to develop something, but will not pay to implement it because of the subject matter. Because they cannot accept these stories as commercially viable.
Rain Valdez: For me, it''s a double-edged sword. I must play a game just to keep going in this industry. So when I started campaigning for the Emmy, I had a very specific message: Heres to adding an option on the ballot that is queer, that''s trans, that''s a color, female-led, that''s Asian American.
I wanted to achieve my goals by giving myself the freedom to express myself through the double-edged sword. So here''s how I want to reach an area where I''m not always consistently referred to as transgender actress Rain Valdez, Emmy. So here''s a double-edged sword there of, Yes, you can refer to me as something else, because that''s what the industry had done. In this way, it consistently differentizes me from the other actors.
Courtesy of filmmaker
I believed that if I wanted to perform such things, I needed to do that. So, I realized that if I wanted to do that, I had to do it for myself. So this is how the filmmaking started.