THIS JUST IN: FILMMAKER ANNA MARGARITA ALBELO EXPLAINS WHY MONEY DOESN’T MATTER
Cuban-American artist, filmmaker, journalist and cultural activist Anna Margarita Albelo is currently making the rounds with her new “docu-comedy,” Hooters, which follows the making of another movie, Cheryl Dunye‘s The Owls (described as "the story of four disillusioned, middle-aged celesbians, who kill a baby dyke, cover it up, and pay the price").
The Owls was coaxed into existence by some of Albelo’s friends, including Dunye, Guinivere Turner, Lisa Gornick, VS Brodie, Deak Evgenikos, Skyler Cooper, writer Sarah Schulman and others (together referred to as The Parliament Collective).
Albelo witnessed the "collective" creation of Dunye’s feature and the provocative discussions it inspired about sexuality, identity and lesbian culture. Most importantly, she captured all of it in her film, which has been described as "riveting," "funny" and "brutally honest."
Hooters premiered at Frameline last month in San Francisco and will debut next weekend in Los Angeles at Outfest. We recently talked to Albelo about lesbian culture, making films without money and her upcoming project with Whitney Mixter (The Real L Word), and she shared with us some clips from Hooters (see below).
AfterEllen.com: How did you get involved with documenting The Owls?
Anna Margarita Albelo: Cheryl Dunye told me last year at Outfest that she wanted to make the film and was really excited about it. The only problems were she had no money or a full script to do it. One month later, the Parliament Collective was born and she was making her movie with so many brilliant people!
I was raving about it, so Cheryl asked me if I’d like to do a film documenting their adventure. Despite the fact that I had no money or a job, I said yes and, in the process, became their first offspring by making my own collaborative film.
AE: Did the subject matter of The Owls hold a particular appeal for you?
AMA: Hooters was a chance for me to explore two of my favorite subjects: lesbian culture and filmmaking. I knew from the beginning that my film would not be a simple, “making-of.” I wanted to make a standalone piece that inspired people to know more about our complicated yet fascinating culture, as well as, demystify the process of making a film with no budget.
My hope is that people — especially lesbians — see the film and say, “If they can do it, we can, too!” I’d love to see tons more “lesbian made films” and I feel both, The Owls and Hooters show you that money is not a real issue if you’re determined and have some good friends.
AE: Can you tell us a bit about The Parliament Collective?
AMA: The Parliament Collective begins with one of the producers, Ernesto Foronda, who decided to reconnect a bunch of queer filmmakers last year in order to make more truly, independent films. Cheryl was the first to propose a project. Candi Gutierres and Alex Juhasz (who produced Cheryl’s Watermelon Woman) joined in as producers and so it began.
Throughout the shoot, I would ask everyone how they came to the film and saw the connections like a family tree. People like actors, Lisa Gornick and VS Brodie flew in from Europe, screenwriter, Sarah Schulman came from New York, I mean, people just came from all over and brought in friends and colleagues to help. It was amazing to see!
One would think that the collaborative process, where everyone has a say, would be a dysfunctional, crazy mess — and it was sometimes! But the chance to hear everyone express themselves about the story, the characters, the messages and points of views of the film was truly a chance! I feel lucky that I could share their voices in my film.
AE: What do you think it means to be an “Older Wiser Lesbian” these days?
AMA:I believe this is the perfect time in lesbian culture to have two films like The Owls and Hooters directly discussing where we are as lesbians today. We can be older and wiser at 13 than we were at 12 — age is not the point. What makes us wiser is having more understanding and information than we did before. So, I wonder if we as lesbians see our culture as a true culture or as just a period in time we go through when we’re coming out?
I often ask, “Is lesbian culture disappearing?” It’s only been 30 or 40 years since lesbian-made culture started to grow, and i fear that with our move towards equality and assimilation, women won’t feel such a need for it in the future. I hope that Hooters piques the interest in it — not only wanting to know more about our culture and history, but also excite lesbians to make and support it.
AE: What’s next for you?
AMA: I started a project with Whitney Mixter from the cast of The Real L Word, exploring her experiences and impressions (now that the show is on the air). Since the cast only saw the first two episodes before the premiere, they will only discover their storylines along with the rest of the world, week by week.
I say, “with” Whitney because I wanted her to have an equal say in how our film would be made and not put her back in the same position as with reality TV (or even documentaries, for that matter), where other people are creating their image of you.
As lesbians, we’re still very critical about our representation and I knew that The Real L Word would have a similar commotion around it as The L Word. I wanted a chance to follow this phenomenon from the personal perspective of someone who chose to to put her life out there, knowing full well all that would follow.
How does Whitney feel about her portrayal? How will her personal and public life change from week to week? This film will be a chance to hear the true(r) voice of a person who decided to “represent,” and what happens after making that decision.
— by Karman Kregloe