It's Sex and le City when an androgynous painter and a sexy lounge singer begin a hot but dangerous lesbian affair in bluesy, timeless Paris. But make no mistake--Sande Zeig's noir-tinged feature debut, The Girl, doesn't resemble an HBO series any more than it does a plot-twisted, traditional noir film like The Maltese Falcon.
Adapted from a sexy, sublime short stow by lesbian author and theoretician Monique Wittig (who cowrote the screenplay with Zeig), The Girl concerns the passionate relationships among three women--the Painter (Agathe de la Boulaye), the Girl (Claire Keim), and Bu Save (Sandra N'Kake)--and the man who poses a threat to them all.
A longtime queer film festival programmer and an art-house film distributor (handling titles such as 2001 Oscar nominees Sound and Fury and The Taste of Others), Zeig is currently bringing The Girl to screens across the country via her own company, Artistic License. The Advocate sat down with her to talk girls, guns, and genre revisionism.
Why did you want to make such a restrained and sparse story--except when it comes to the sex--into a film?
I felt it was very cinematic. I knew there weren't a lot of twists and turns, but to me it was a yew film-noirish story. I knew I wanted it to be based in gestures and expression and nuance and silence. I didn't want to make a movie of the reality that I see around me. And I felt this was a very sexy stow, sort of poetic erotic, and I guess I don't find that in many lesbian films. It's mostly coming-out stories or young girl stories.
The Girl identifies as straight, and every time she sleeps with the Painter she says it's the last time. Have you ever fallen for someone like the Girl and been in that position?
I certainly did. And I think the approach of the Painter is distant--she's not moving forward too quickly--so when the Girl tells her to go away, she does. [Because the Painter] always has in the back of her mind that even if the Girl says, "It's just one time," it's not really the truth. In my experience that's the case. You lay back and see what happens, but generally, nevertheless, I come back.
Why did you shoot this film in France with an international cast instead of in the United States?
I don't feel like an American independent filmmaker. I'm just not inspired to shoot in America with American stories.
Your actresses, particularly Agathe, are beautiful--and straight, I understand. Was there queer flirtation on the set anyway?
Oh, yeah. It was a sexy movie, so I think everybody was getting a little sexy. It's hard for me to be sure, but I would say the actresses were a little surprised, because they truly had some kind of chemistry together. I'd hate to say they were reconsidering their sexuality, but I believe they were extremely physically comfortable together, which is maybe something they never would have experienced.
Ferber is a New York City-based writer who contributes to Time Out New York and other publications.
Find more on the films of Artistic License and links to Web sites related to Sande Zeig and The Girl at www.advocate.com
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|Title Annotation:||filmmaker Sande Zeig|
|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Jun 5, 2001|
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