A funny, mysterious and humane generational anthem starring some of the most popular underground artists in Lesbian Cinema: Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, The L Word, American Psycho), V.S. Brodie (Go Fish), Lisa Gornick (Tick Tock Lullaby) and Deak Evgenikos (The Itty Bitty Titty Committee).
The Owls screenplay is by novelist Sarah Schulman and is based on a story by writer/director/professor Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman, She Don’t Fade, Stranger Inside). Raised in the shadow of “pathological lesbian” films like The Fox, The Children’s Hour and The Killing of Sister George, The Owls once embraced the utopian vision of Lesbian Nation. Now, approaching middle age, the revolution has eluded their dreams. Caught between a culture that still has no place for them, and a younger generation indifferent to their contributions, the OWLs face an emotionally complex set of circumstances that have yet to be compassionately and truthfully addressed.
Made for $22,000, The Owls is a collective act, re-thinking how to make films that matter outside the system. “We created our own system, peopled by lesbians, queers and people of color, film professionals all raising themes about aging as well as inter-generational dialogue; loneliness and community; dreams raised and deferred; butch/trans anxiety; cross-racial and inter-racial desire and strain; and the history of lesbian cinema and self-representation.” —The Owls Parliament
Shot entirely on location in Los Angeles, Cheryl Dunye, Alexandra Juhasz, Candi Guterres and Ernesto Foronda invited a diverse but inter-connected group of lesbian/queer artists to come together to form The Parliament Film Collective and collaborate on a work that reflects their lived collective experience.
Author Sarah Schulman reflects “Cheryl gave me the opportunity to work on a moody, psychological piece about our generation, and when I heard the storyline, I jumped at the chance. I was the oldest of about sixty people, most working for free and at our own expense. I wrote a 72-page script in New York, got out to LA. They housed me in Jamie Babbit’s pool house, which was classic ‘Hollywood.’”
Director Cheryl Dunye notes: “The inspiration for making THE OWLS film project had been on my mind for quite some time. It transpired from my fascination with the negative portrayal of lesbians characters in film history, the huge gaps in queer culture between ‘those who fought to create our identities’ and ‘those who simply live it,’ as well as a lack of any cinema creating new ways of storytelling and producing that falls outside of the commercial and independent cinema worlds. At the end of the day The Owls, for me, was a catch twenty-two in a way. Sometimes you get what you fought for politically and creatively in making your mark on lesbian cinema as I did with The Watermelon Woman and then it shoots you in the head leaving you buried six feet under the lesbian culture that you helped create. That’s why I created The Owls. And as a filmmaker I felt the best way to express this was to gather up the important faces in lesbian film, past and present, form a collective, and create a ‘dunyementary’ about it.” —www.theowlsmovie.com
Cheryl Dunye (born May 13, 1966) is a film director, producer, screenwriter, editor and actress. Dunye is a lesbian and her work often concerns themes of race, sexuality and gender, particularly issues relating to black lesbians.
Dunye was born in Liberia. She has taught at UC Riverside, Temple University, and Pitzer College.
She is currently a visiting artist at the California College of the Arts, and a mother of two children.
Dunye started her career with six short films which have been collected on DVD as The Early Works of Cheryl Dunye. Dunye’s feature debut was The Watermelon Woman (1996), a film which explored the history of black women and lesbians in film.
She directed the 2001 television movie Stranger Inside based on the experiences of African-American lesbians in prison.
Taking a turn from self-written lesbian-focused films, she directed My Baby’s Daddy starring Eddie Griffin, Michael Imperioli, and Anthony… read more