Sisters Alex and Sylvia Sichel wrote and directed the 1997 film All Over Me after Alex received a grant to make a film about the riot grrrl music scene. Interestingly, the film became much more about a gay girl, Claude, coming of age in New York and dealing with a crush on her straight best friend as well as a hate crime in her neighborhood.
Music was still a huge part of the plot, as Claude found solace in playing guitar, and also found a like-minded riot grrrl at the music shop, the pink-haired Lucy. Mary Timony also had a bit part in the film as a member of Coochie Pop, and her band, Helium, was featured on the soundtrack and as a poster on Claude’s wall. (Mary is now part of Wild Flag, a band with Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss and Rebecca Cole.
So whatever happened to the women behind the pivotal ’90s film?
Alison Folland (Claude, the budding lesbian)
After starring in All Over Me, Alison was cast in Gus Van Sant‘s To Die For and also appeared in Boys Don’t Cry and Good Will Hunting. She had a bit part in last year’s The Fighter, but largely she’s been working on her own filmmaking career. On her Vimeo page, she has shorts she’s made, including a reworking of a famous lesbian scene from Claude Chabol‘s Les Biches.
Tara Subkoff (Ellen, Claude’s straight best friend)
Tara has taken on some acting roles but has mostly concentrated on fashion. She co-founded the line Imitation Of Christ, of which Chloë Sevigny was creative director. After leaving IOC, she came back last year with a new brand called Imitation, which debuted at New York Fashion Week 2011.
Leisha Hailey (Lucy, the pink-haired musician)
After The L Word, Leisha has recorded and toured with bandmate Camila Grey as Uh Huh Her. The duo’s second LP, Nocturnes, will be released Oct. 11 and it was just announced their fall tour will be called the Keep A Breast Tour, as presented by the Keep A Breast Foundation and House Of Blues Entertainment. As an actress, Leisha starred alongside Gale Harold in a horror film called Fertile Ground, which you can watch on Netflix.
Alex Sichel (director)
After All Over Me, Alex created the Chloe Sevingy/Michelle Williams segment of If These Walls Could Talk 2. She’s currently working on teen horror film called The Dogs and developing a supernatural TV series with Paul Giamatti‘s production company, Touchy Feely Films. She’s also a visting professor at NYU in the Tisch film department.
All Over Me was well received by critics, winning the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film at the 1997 Berlin International Film Festival and being nominated for awards at Sundance (Grand Jury Prize) and the Indie Spirits (Best Actress, Alison Folland). The soundtrack couldn’t have been more perfect and integral to the film. It featured Babes in Toyland, Ani Difranco, The Murmurs and Sleater-Kinney, clearly the bands that were the soundtrack to Claude’s life.
Since All Over Me was released just a few years after Go Fish (1994) and The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love (1995), there were instant comparisons. In an interview with IndieWire, Sylvia and Alex shared that they were happy to have had those films, because it allowed the presence of more films that might be coined “lesbian films” to enter into mainstream consciousness.
“…Of course it’s a movie about a lesbian and that’s really important, but a lesbian film — what is that? Is that a genre?” Alex told IndieWire. “It’s a very important marketing concept and that’s not a small thing because this movie was made possible by the success of Go Fish and The Incredible Adventures of Two Girls in Love and that’s why we were able to make this film.”
But they describe the film less as a coming of age/coming out story and more of a realistic depiction of a best friendship. Sylvia, who identifies as straight, said it was just as important for her to tell the story of Claude as it was for her out sister.
“Every woman has some kind of erotic experience with another woman whether it was a crush on their teacher, whatever it was, and we really shut that out. So that’s what I mean by this line were trying to ride, to market a complicated movie,” she told IndieWire.
Considering Marlene King‘s Now and Then came out two years prior and Christina Ricci‘s character had to be de-gayed, it was still a very touch-and-go time for telling lesbian stories in cinema — at least if you wanted your movie to be seen. But to tell a very honest story that is so necessary to young women of the riot grrrl generation and beyond, that’s what makes All Over Me more relevant than some of the other films of the same genre. The fact that a pair of sisters — one gay, one straight — were able to combine their experiences and feelings about female friendships and produce a telling film about unrequited love that had a broader message about being young and gay and how it relates to your relationships (not just romantic) with everyone is what made All Over Me on of the most successful “lesbian films” to date.
Watch the trailer for All Over Me below: