Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival: SWF Seeks SWF to Prove She's Heterosexual
Jill (right), seeks to assert her newfound heterosexuality by dating her ex-girlfriend.
Michelle Ehlen, director of Heterosexual Jill, playing Sunday, May 4, as part of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, likes to mess with people's minds - well, at least the parts of people's minds that formulate stereotypes about gender and sexuality.
Her previous film, Butch Jamie, played with gender issues and societal misconceptions. She was awarded Best Actress from Outfest Film Festival for her performance in the "gender-bending" comedy.
Heterosexual Jill also screws with our perceptions of sexuality. The titular character falls victim to the "ex-gay" movement, then seeks to rekindle a relationship with her ex-girlfriend to "prove" the reconditioning worked. The film won Special Mention of the Jury at the Barcelona LGTIB Film Festival and was recognized by the Cleveland International Film Festival's Focus on Filmmakers Program, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Some subplots keep the action and laughs going, particularly via supporting characters David and Lola who compete for the affections of a sexually ambiguous Brazilian named José.
Michelle Ehlen spoke with us about the making of the film, her favorite moment during production, and her next project.
Cultist: How do you feel about Heterosexual Jill being part of MGLFF's line up this year?
I'm really excited, as I haven't had a film screen at MGLFF before.
What's the film about?
I call the film a pseudo-romantic comedy about being in love with who you think you are. The main character Jill is trying to be an "ex-lesbian," and gets the crazy idea to date her ex-girlfriend to prove to herself that she's no longer attracted to her.
What inspired you to take on this project?
The film is a follow up to my first feature Butch Jamie, although I don't think of it as an official sequel, as I believe it stands on its own. Butch Jamie is a satire on gender, and I liked the idea of doing another installment that was a satire on sexuality. There are characters all over the sexuality spectrum in the film, which helps round out the themes of sexuality and identity.
What was your favorite moment during filming?
One scene that stands out for me is the one where Jill (Jen McPherson) and Jamie (me) are laying in bed talking and laughing. That whole scene is improvised, and actually replaced a scripted scene I had. The camera kept running after the scripted scene was over (thanks to my producer Charlie Vaughn, who made an instinctual decision not to cut after we were done), and we spontaneously went into the improvised part, which ended up feeling really natural and real on screen, because it was. People tell me they feel like they're right there with us.
What do you feel is the message of the film, if there is one?
I think the film touches on a few different issues, but for me, the main one is the idea that many people are over-attached to their identity and what it means, or what they think it should mean. This is reflected not only with Jill, but with many of the characters, including Jamie, the gold star butch lesbian who ends up confronting some of her own insecurities about her sexuality.