When Nicole Conn released her landmark film, Claire of the Moon, in 1992, the cinematic landscape was virtually void of other lesbian-themed movies. Nearly 20 years later, a sprinkling of movies with queer themes has found mainstream acclaim: Boys Don’t Cry, Brokeback Mountain, The Kids are All Right. But the field is still so small that most people can name the mainstream lesbian movies on one hand.
With this summer’s restored re-release of Claire of the Moon, Conn took a look back at the film, her career and the future of lesbian films.
“Claire of the Moon told the story of being a lesbian at a time when we still weren’t visible,” Conn says. “It was a different time. We were searching for each other. We used code and attended ‘women’s weekends’ or slithered into covert bars to find others like us.”
The bar scene has changed in the past two decades, but Conn continues to tell the stories of women in our community.
“We have more visibility now, for sure. But our stories have an enduring to need to be told. We’re a diverse community with diverse experience,” adds Conn.
While she may best be known for Claire of the Moon, and last year’s Elena Undone (which featured the longest on-screen kiss in history), Conn’s other works include the documentary little man– the story of her son who was born 100 days prematurely, weighing only one pound.
“Women are many things. We’re wives and partners and mothers and lovers. We have rich experiences that deserve to be told with great care,” Conn observes. Speaking about why she chose to share her life through documentary, Conn adds, “My experience is one that many other parents have. Frightening and vulnerable and utterly humbling. When you can’t ‘make it better’ for your child, you feel completely helpless. I wanted to show this most human experience that we were undergoing. I also wanted to ask the question we ask at the end of life: because we have the technology to extend life, does it make it humane to do so? I’m pleased that it’s given hope and comfort to others.”
Now Conn and her production company, Soul Kiss Films, are working to complete their newest project, A Perfect Ending. The film follows Rebecca, a repressed and uptight socialite, as she lives a perfect yet pointless life. A new world unfolds when she finds herself somewhere she’d never expect—in the arms of a high-priced escort. As Rebecca discovers answers she’s been searching for her entire life, she reclaims worthless years and vindicates painful regrets. Raw, evocative and even humorous, A Perfect Ending explores a woman’s struggle to find what moves her, and asks, ‘Without passion, what’s the point?’
“This movie is going to blow you away,” promises Conn. “It’s a redemption story; a story of self-realization and of a mother’s love. It’s a movie that shows so many facets of being a woman and finding your place in the world. And the acting is superb.”
In the lead roles are Barbara Niven and Jessica Clark. “Jessica is absolutely stunning. She’s our British, Amazon goddess. And Barbara is able to act an entire scene using just her eyes. The subtlety she commands is amazing,” comments Conn.
“It’s been almost 10 years since little man, and almost 20 years since Claire. There are still so many stories to be told. I wonder which ones we will be telling in another 20 years.”
The Nicole Conn Box Set from Peccadillo Pictures Ltd., out now, includes Claire of the Moon, Cynara and Elena Undone. For more on A Perfect Ending, see www.aperfectendingmovie.com.