Often semi-autobiographical in nature, Desiree Akhavan’s work unabashedly celebrates what it means to be an Iranian-American bisexual woman. As an openly bisexual filmmaker who centers her experience of bisexuality in most of her works, Akhavan has had to frequently deal with critics expecting her to deliver a “taboo-breaking drama on bisexuality.” To this, Akhavan responded in an interview for the Independent that she is merely trying “to figure shit out for [her]self” rather than put forth a “taboo-breaking” narrative on the matters of gender and sexuality. Indeed, it is worth questioning why gay artists are expected to deliver ground-breaking work when the film industry persistently denies funding, access, and support for gay artists. When gay people are still fighting for their right to simply exist, ground-breaking becomes a luxury reserved for the most privileged.Continue reading “Female Director Spotlight: Desiree Akhavan Tackles Sexuality with Refreshing Honesty”
Many critics of Desiree Akhavan’s The Bisexual have condemned it for not being explicitly subversive enough, somehow implying that because of Akhavan’s bisexuality, she necessarily has to write a neat arc which leads up to a climatic acceptance of main character Leila’s sexuality. I believe that form of criticism in itself is worth interrogating: Why do we expect LGBTQ-centered media (particularly, those by LGBTQ artists) to live up to a totalising and universalising narrative, when all of us have differing experiences on sexuality because of our varied socio-political circumstances? And why do we place the burden on LGBTQ people to figure out all there is to do with sex, gender and sexuality when the world is persistently denying and censoring our access to all these things? Continue reading “Art, Autobiography, and Sexuality in Desiree Akhavan’s ‘The Bisexual’”
Last year, there was one film that seemed to take up almost all of the space in my head. For all the wonderful movies that came in 2017, none occupied my thoughts or meant more to me than one in particular – this was Luca Guadagnino’s masterful Call Me By Your Name, a film that I have written hundreds of adoring words on over the past ten months, and which I hardly felt I could do justice to in my work. I am not here, however, to revisit Call Me By Your Name but, rather, to discuss the film that appears to have had the same effect on me this year. Though we may only be in September, I doubt that I will find another feature in the coming months that will impact me as much as Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Just as Guadagnino’s film gripped every part of me last year, so has Akhavan’s – her depiction of a young, gay woman’s battle with both herself and the cruelty of her environment is as heart-wrenching as it is witty, and feels to me as beautiful and as vital to queer cinema as Call Me By Your Name.
Alongside blockbusters, ABBA, and Disney nostalgia are plenty of female-directed films also hitting the big screen this summer. Here’s a list of all the women-helmed flicks coming out in June-August. All descriptions are from press materials and all release dates are U.S.
June 29 – WOMAN WALKS AHEAD dir. Susanna White
Woman Walks Ahead is a biographical film starring Jessica Chastain as Catherine Weldon, a 19th-century New York portrait painter who traveled to the Dakota Territory and became the confidante of legendary Sioux chief Sitting Bull (played by Michael Greyeyes). While serving as Sitting Bull’s secretary, interpreter, and advocate, she becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over the rights to their land.
Despite the rise of LGBTQ+ films in recent years, films that revolve around young lesbians remain hard one to come by. This is why Desiree Akhavan’s second feature “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” has been one of the films I was most excited to see this year after it premiered at Sundance, where it won the Grand Jury Prize. It’s a film that perfectly balances comedy and drama; it is funny without being incongruous and is tragic without being exploitative.