“Camp Belvidere” explores a passionate 1950s love affair

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The short film Camp Belvidere takes an intimate look at a lesbian love affair during the 1950s. Gin, a nurse at an all-girls summer camp, and Rose, a college-age camp leader, find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. They bond over a mutual love of literature and a physical attraction that neither of them can deny. Gin has led a mostly solitary life and tries to push Rose away, not wanting her to sign up for an adult life which is far from embraced or understood. However, Rose pushes back, forcing Gin to see the possibilities rather than the obstacles to their love. The result is a taut, satisfying film that showcases an intense love story between two women from a time period where lesbian relationships were far from embraced.

Writer Astrid Ovalles stars as Nurse Gin and co-directed the film. She recently spoke to AfterEllen and gave us some insight into these compelling and conflicted characters.

AfterEllen: What inspired Camp Belvidere?
Astrid Ovalles: Camp Belvidere was inspired by the lesbian pulp fiction novels of the ’50s. I thought they were very colorful and kind of twisted. I happen to like both of those things and I always wanted to see a movie that was similar to that. What first popped into my head was Gin’s character. I knew a few things about her and then one day I decided to put her in a cabin with a young woman and see what’d she’d do. From there the whole thing just kind of fell into place.

Molly Way as Rose and Astrid Ovalles as GinCamp-Belvidere-2

AE: CB is set in the 1950s, when being a gay person came with a lot of personal strife. Gin deals with those deep-seated feelings, yet Rose sees their budding romance as something exciting and wonderful. There is definitely a sense of hope at end of the film. Was that important for you to show?
AO: It was important to show hope with the ending. I honestly couldn’t see why there couldn’t be hope for them giving their relationship a shot. I think it would probably have been short-lived but mostly due to their age difference and Gin being a little twisted, she probably would have traded Rose in. [laughs] But that’s not to say that what they had wasn’t real and solid. Every feeling of affection is true regardless of whether or not it becomes a lifelong thing. I tend to lean towards relationships that teach you something and make you grown rather than assume things are all-or-nothing.

AE: Not only did you write and star in CB, but you also co-directed it. What are the challenges of directing oneself and wearing so many hats? 
AO: It was a really big challenge doing so many things with Camp Belvidere. At first I had planned to direct it fully but then I felt that Gin’s character would suffer and that I would rob the audience of a fair shot at really connecting with her. So I decided to work with Oriana Oppice, because I know she’s a fabulous actress herself, and I knew that I could trust her with direction. I think in the future it will be a bit easier for me to do everything but loving acting as much as I do, I think I may always have to co-direct just because I’m not willing to take any chances with character and story development when it comes to acting.

AE: Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
AO: I have just begun writing a feature film. It is completely different from Camp Belvidere but I think that people will love it. It is something that I have always craved to see done well, there is nothing like it out there. I know I’m being cryptic here, but until I have a solid script I can’t really share much of the story. It’s very much on it’s beginning stages, though I am super excited about it. I can tell you it will be a lesbian female centric film with sensual, dark, emotional, and twisted aspects to it because that’s just how I roll.

Camp Belvidere is available for rental on campbelvidere.com

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