Evaluation: ‘Ahead of the Curve’ celebrates lesbian triumph while trying to find new purpose in uncertain times
The true story of how Deneuve publication — later renamed Curve — was able to launch within 1990 is as outlandish since the best urban legends.
When banks refused to lend Franco Stevens, then a 20-something lesbian, money to finance the business, she took a bet on her future. Stevens applied for multiple credit cards, cashed them all out, then hit the horse tracks. Her winning streak earned her sufficient money to get her lesbian porn lifestyle magazine off the ground.
Stevens’ legacy may be the subject of “Ahead from the Curve, ” a shiny documentary directed by Jen Rainin (Franco’s wife) and co-directed and produced by Rivkah Beth Medow. Told by way of a mix of archival footage plus new interviews with Stevens, early members of the Deneuve/Curve staff and some celesbians, the particular film shows how vital Stevens and the long-running magazine were for lesbian visibility and community from the beginning.
These glimpses to the past that provide historical context to Stevens’ and the magazine’s journey are among “Ahead of the Curve’s” most convincing moments. With the evolution plus prevalence of LGBTQ representation in mainstream media today, when various major brands unveil rainbow iterations of their trademarks and products just for Pride month , it’s easy to forget that the landscape was very different 3 decades ago.
Deneuve initial hit newsstands when just putting the word “lesbian” at the cover was revolutionary. At the same time when societal views plus public policy were aggressive to the LGBTQ community, Deneuve/Curve let lesbians see them selves as vibrant and lovely human beings who come in a spectrum of shapes and sizes reflecting a range of stories and encounters all worth embracing. Plus although the film celebrates the particular magazine’s impact, staffers also reflect on its past weak points, such as not being inclusive enough when it came to featuring Black and brown lesbians.
And Curve’s success was not with out hardships. The magazine’s original name landed it in legal trouble. Later, Stevens suffered an accident, which directed her to sell the publication. (Since filming the documentary, Stevens offers reacquired Curve and launched a new base. )
Woven through “Ahead of the Contour, ” which opens with Stevens receiving the news that will Curve’s future as a print out magazine is in peril, is an exploration of where queer ladies stand in the present. Through conversations with younger activists, Stevens confronts the tough question of whether there is even a need for a lesbian print out magazine in this digital age.
The documentary furthermore briefly touches on the standing of the word “lesbian” amongst queer women. As the language people use to discuss their own identity has evolved, a few have come to perceive the particular label as outdated or even, worse, exclusionary. Others embrace the identity as empowering and refuse to let “lesbian” be co-opted by a vocal minority who exclude trans women from their ranks. It is a discussion that deserves more space than the film can provide.
While “Ahead of the Curve” doesn’t offer any solid solutions, it does make the case that understanding lesbian history should be a key part in evaluating the future. Poet and instructor Denice Frohman, who is among those Stevens meets in the film, sums it up best: “It’s so incredibly important for all of us to be connected to our lineage to those who came before us … those who strolled through a door and cracked it open wider to ensure that we could walk through it after them. ”
“Ahead of the Curve” honors that lineage and Stevens’ legacy while reaffirming that there is still more work to be done for lesbian visibility and representation that is including all queer women.
‘Ahead of the Curve’
Working time: one hour, 37 minutes
Playing: Available June 1 upon VOD and Laemmle Virtual Cinema ; screenings with Q& A, 7: 30 p. mirielle., June 1, Laemmle Royal, West L. A.; seven: 30 p. m., June 2, Laemmle NoHo seven, North Hollywood; 7: 30 p. m., June 3, Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena