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EMEMBER THE FRENCH FEATURE FILM BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR? MANY LESBIANS WERE
OUTRAGED AT THE MOVIE’S EXPLOITATION OF ITS ACTRESSES AND THE MULTIPLE SEX SCENES
IN WHICH THE WOMEN SEEMED TO BE PERFORMING NOT FOR EACH OTHER BUT FOR THE MALE
GAZE. THE FILM STARTED A DEBATE IN OUR COMMUNITY: WHY COULDN’T WE MAKE A SEXY
FILM OF OUR OWN, AUTHENTICALLY REPRESENTING LESBIAN SEX AND DESIRE? IT TURNS OUT THAT
OUR NORTHERN NEIGHBORS WERE ALREADY IN DEVELOPMENT ON BELOW HER MOUTH WHEN BLUE
IS THE WARMEST COLOR MADE A SPLASH AT THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL IN 2013. SCREENWRITER
STEPHANIE FABRIZI AND HER PARTNER AND PRODUCER, MELISSA COGHLAN, DETERMINED TO MAKE
BELOW HER MOUTH AS SEXY, AS ORIGINAL, AND AS UNWAVERINGLY LESBIAN AS THEY COULD.
CREWED ENTIRELY BY WOMEN, MANY OF THEM QUEER, THE FILM PASSES THE BECHDEL TEST WITH
FLYING COLORS AND RECEIVED AN “F” RATING FROM THE INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE, “F” STAND-
ING FOR FEMALE/FEMINIST. EVEN BETTER NEWS FOR LONG-TERM SURVIVORS OF BAD LESBIAN
MOVIES: THE DIALOGUE IS KEPT TO A MINIMUM, DESIRE IS AT A MAXIMUM, AND NO ONE DIES IN THE
END. MERRYN JOHNS CAUGHT UP WITH THE CAST AND CREW TO GET THEIR TAKE ON HOW THIS
FILM ABOUT LIFE-ALTERING LESBIAN ATTRACTION CAME TOGETHER SO COMPELLINGLY.
MELISSA COGHLAN — PRODUCER
On what the film is about:
The film is about one weekend, and two people who find each other
and think they’re never going to see each other again. What do you do?
You have sex. Stephanie [Fabrizi, screenwriter] wanted to make a film
about female desire. She really wanted to show the female orgasm and
intimacy through a queer woman’s lens. Sometimes people will watch
the sex scenes and say, “Wow, I didn’t know women had sex like that”—
particularly in the scene where Jasmine is on top, or when they’re skin
on skin. Stephanie is not saying every woman has sex that way. That’s
just how Dallas would be with Jasmine in that situation.
On how the film is being received:
A lot of queer women really love it and connect with it. That’s who we
made it for. We like to see ourselves in different people. Some people
will say they see themselves in Dallas. People like to attach themselves
to characters that they like—and sometimes that they don’t like—so
that they can accept things about themselves. I think that part of the
reason queer people do it is because they see it so infrequently, and
they think, “This movie is for me.” And if they say, “This movie is for me,”
then I’m happy they connect with it on some level.
On making the film in Toronto:
We have a lot of freedom in Canada, especially in Toronto: We have a
really strong queer community here, and we have a really open and
supportive system. We had Canadian financiers who believed in the
project and loved the authenticity of it. They just believed the time
was right, and in Canada, certainly, people were ready for this story.
They knew this film was going to be really bold. We saw that Blue Is
the Warmest Color had a lot of sex, which is what we were planning on
having, but what was different about it for me was that Blue was shot
by a man, through a heterosexual lens. The way [director] April Mullen
shot this film, you very much stay within the body. The first night, with
the two of them together, we really track [the actor] Natalie’s emotion
when she cries, because so much of it is pent-up. We don’t play it for
very long, because it happens so quickly. Maya, our cinematographer,
gave her some privacy and turned the camera off. We never wanted to
put the actors in a position where it wasn’t always about them.
lotl.com • Lesbians On The Loose Magazine
INTERVIEW | COVER STORY
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