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March 26, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
Focus on Filmmakers award winner, Michelle Ehlen, wears many different hats in her feature film, “Heterosexual Jill.” She not only plays a leading role in the film, Ehlen also wrote, directed, produced and edited it.
“I love doing all the various roles,” she says, “and, honestly, for me it’s more fun than difficult.” Ehlen says she enjoys directing herself because she is in control and can do whatever she chooses. As the editor, she can review the footage “with a more critical eye.”
“Heterosexual Jill” is inspired by Ehlen’s first feature film, “Butch Jamie.” “‘Butch Jamie’ has many of the same characters as this movie, so it was really an interest in exploring these characters and their relationships further,” says Ehlen. “Butch Jamie” concentrates on gender issues, whereas “Heterosexual Jill” takes a deeper look at sexuality, Ehlen explains. The protagonist, Jill, thinks Jamie is a man, but when she finds out the truth, they have an affair anyway.
“The film looks at sexuality as existing on a continuum and capitalizes on the humor that arises from an over-attachment to one’s identity and what it’s supposed to mean,” she says.
Ehlen plays Jamie, whom, Ehlen says, “is a dyed-in-the-wool butch lesbian” who eventually “starts having a crisis after she dreams about men.” Jill, on the other hand, struggles with something completely opposite: “she would love to dream about men but she isn’t.”
Playing with these ideas of identity and sexuality, “Heterosexual Jill” questions what it means to be hetero, homo, bisexual, you name it.
“The main idea for me is that sometimes the way we think of ourselves clouds the reality of who we are,” says Ehlen. “Identity is both the way we understand ourselves and the way we misunderstand ourselves.”
Audiences will find “Heterosexual Jill” fun and entertaining, but are sure to see past the surface of the film. “Beyond being queer or not being queer,” Ehlen says, “it’s all about perspective on who we think we are and who we think we should be.”
— Molly Drake
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FILM UPDATE: #CIFF36 alum YOU'VE BEEN TRUMPED is screening tonight at Capitol Theatre! Ticket and timing info here: https://www.clevelandcinemas.com/moviedetails.asp?id=6624
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