Sara Lautman wanted to screen just one movie: "Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby," a 1999 film featuring Natasha Lyonne and Vincent Gallo that tracked the escapades of two women on the run from a mental institution and toward relief from eating disorders. She reached out to Rahne Alexander, operations and development manager of the Maryland Film Festival, for ideas about where to show it. They met up and couldn't stop talking about all the lesbian movies from the same era, "what makes a 'lesbian' movie, and then what makes a movie a 'lesbian feminist' movie, but mostly we were just having fun agreeing about what movies were good," Lautman says. And the True Directions lesbian/queer feminist film series was born.
The series gives people a chance to watch their old favorites, such as "Born in Flames," this writer's favorite 1980s feminist science-fiction film, directed by Lizzie Borden and featuring a radical feminist bicycle gang. Yeah, that's the stuff—but we digress. Part of the mission of True Directions is to screen those forgotten ones that slipped under the radar. Lautman was quite sure she'd seen them all, but as curatorial conversations continued, she learned there's a ton left to see.
"This is an educational experience for me," she says. "I thought I had watched a healthy sum of queer women movies in my teens and 20s, but I'm learning that there is a lot to the speck [of lesbian/queer feminist films] that I've never even heard of."
More than anything, True Directions is a community-building event. It's fun; when the group screened "The Legend of Billie Jean" in December, a good crowd gathered on that rainy night to sing one of Our People's anthems: Pat Benatar's 'Invincible.' Lautman sees it as deeper than this, though: "When a cultural item that has a lot of personal meaning to you is celebrated in public, in a public institution, with other people who also have big feelings about the cultural item—maybe it's an album, or a play, or a TV show—it's incredibly thrilling. Aside from reinforcing community, you experience the joy of being seen."
True Directions continues this Sunday, Feb. 1 at the Windup Space (12 W. North Ave.) with the film "All Over Me." Follow the schedule at truedirex.tumblr.com.