Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Wendy Jo Carlton: 'Free' and the mystery of love
by Jorjet Harper
2009-09-16

This article shared 4217 times since Wed Sep 16, 2009
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Independent feature Hannah Free, filmed in Chicago in November 2008, held its gala worldwide premiere in San Francisco on the evening Pride Day 2009, to an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd.

Hannah Free is about a lifelong lesbian love, based on the popular play by Claudia Allen. Rosie O'Donnell was on hand to introduce the film and, after the screening, the film's star, Sharon Gless, answered questions from the audience. She was joined onstage by screenwriter Allen, executive producer Tracy Baim, other principal cast members, and Hannah Free's director, Wendy Jo Carlton. Recently Carlton spoke with WCT about the making of the film.

Jorjet Harper: How did you get involved in the Hannah Free film project?

Wendy Jo Carlton: I've been an independent filmmaker for about 20 years, and have written and directed many shorts in different genres—narrative, comedy, documentary—that have screened in festivals on television and I also have a couple screenplays under my belt. I came to direct Hannah Free because I had worked with Tracy Baim, the executive producer, on a couple other projects, the Chicago Gay Games DVD, and recently the living library that is the Chicago Gay History Project. ( www.chicagogayhistory.com ) . In the course of interviewing hundreds of LGBT folks in the area, I met the playwright Claudia Allen and then the three of us, Tracy, Claudia, and I, decided to make a lesbian feature film in Chicago, adapting Hannah Free, one of Claudia's popular plays.

JORJET HARPER: As the director, what was the experience of making Hannah Free like for you?

WENDY JO CARLTON: Directing Hannah Free was a bit like going to a carnival at night. It's exciting and and then overwhelming, and at first you have the impulse to go on all the rides and play all the games. But then you realize you have to be home by midnight and you don't have enough money anyway. So it becomes clear what really matters to you are the water rides, the dart games, the bumper cars and the corn dogs. Later on you forget about the tummy ache or the argument over who gets to drive on the way back, and instead you remember how colorful it was, how great the warm air felt on your bare skin, and how good it was to be on another adventure with your friends.

JORJET HARPER: What is the movie's central theme, in your view?

WENDY JO CARLTON: For me, Hannah Free is about the power and the mystery of love. And ultimately it's a triumph of the human spirit. Hannah herself is a sexy, real woman who also represents all the beautiful, brave queer women and men who've insisted on living their truth and loving who they are and whomever they want for as long as there have been human beings.

JORJET HARPER: What was it like to be directing a power actor like Sharon Gless?

WENDY JO CARLTON: I was intimidated, of course. The first time I called her, before she got to Chicago, I told her I was nervous because she has worked for so many years with many directors. I had a crib sheet on my desk with notes for me to remember while talking to her because I didn't want to sound too eager and of course I had business to discuss. But after she said hello, I introduced myself and blurted out that I was nervous. And Sharon said, "I don't want you to be nervous, but I tell you what, I'm pretty nervous too." Sharon was gracious and generous, on set and off.

JORJET HARPER: What, if any, difficulties did you encounter during filming?

WENDY JO CARLTON: This was an independent, low-budget film, and we had very little time from start to finish, which meant little room for mistakes regarding the cohesion and emotional arc of the story. There was a lot of pressure, and I knew I had to trust my instincts. I made a lot of creative decisions—whether it be casting, wardrobe, locations, camera movement or soundtrack—by trusting my gut, which was informed by my experience as a filmmaker for many years but also by close study of Claudia's great story.

JORJET HARPER: While you were directing, did you have some guiding principle or some goal as to how you wanted the film to be perceived?

WENDY JO CARLTON: It was important to me to portray Hannah and Rachel not just as young lovers but as older lovers as well, two women who share a deep emotional connection but also a passionate physical and sexual connection. And not to just imply that, but to show their attraction visually, cinematically. Most mainstream feature films don't show older couples sharing physical affection and sexual attraction for one another. Whether they are straight or queer, we just don't see many older characters in bed together or see older people kissing and being sensual together onscreen. I think it's sexy and fun and life-affirming.

JORJET HARPER: Why do you think the relationship between these two women is so memorable?

WENDY JO CARLTON: Most long-term romantic relationships, regardless of orientation, wax and wane in the lust department. What's great about Hannah and Rachel is that theirs is the kind of great love affair that has sustained its passion and lust over decades, the kind of fantastic, enduring attraction and love that is celebrated and pined for in straight films all the time.

JORJET HARPER: If there is a political message embedded in the film, what do you think it is?

WENDY JO CARLTON: In addition to the story being about the letting go of someone we love, which we all experience at some point in life, I think the film really helps put a human face on the issue of equal rights and human rights for every U.S. citizen. The Proposition 8 that passed in California is unjust and wrong. It makes me very sad and upset that we live in a culture where people are allowed to vote on who should remain second-class citizens. If we allow majority votes on civil and basic human rights, women and Blacks still wouldn't have the right to vote.

JORJET HARPER: And what impact do you think the film will have, out in the world?

WENDY JO CARLTON: I hope the film continues to serve as a cultural force that can influence people, queer or straight, young or old, to do the right thing when the time comes, whether that means putting someone else's needs before your own or refusing to go along with the dehumanizing of others, especially others who are different from you.

I think this film is very entertaining, sensual, and provocative as a story of a great love affair. It's universal and will engage viewers regardless of sexual orientation. Hannah is a dynamic, sexy, flawed, passionate human being and who can't relate to that? And Sharon Gless and the rest of the cast are such a pleasure to watch in every scene.

JORJET HARPER: Now that the film has premiered, do you have any further thoughts about its creation?

WENDY JO CARLTON: It was incredibly rewarding to work with such a great cast. The cast was the largest I've worked with in my career thus far, and they are all so talented and professional. So it pushed me as a director to not only have to decide what each scene meant to me at its core, but to also articulate that interpretation very clearly to the actors. I think being a good director also means listening to actors and working with them to create consistent emotional threads for their characters throughout the film.


This article shared 4217 times since Wed Sep 16, 2009
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Queer actors, icons duet, Hunter Schafer, Oscars, Elizabeth Taylor 2024-03-01
- Queer actor Kal Penn is set to star in Trust Me, I'm a Doctor—a film that chronicles the final days of actress/model Anna Nicole Smith, whose overdose death in 2007 at age 39 sparked a tabloid ...


Gay News

Dorian Film Awards: 'All of Us Strangers' takes top prizes 2024-02-27
- February 26, 2024 - Los Angeles, Ca. - For its 15th Dorian Film Awards, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics fully embraced All of Us Strangers, writer-director Andrew Haigh's fantastical and tear-inducing tale of two ...


Gay News

SAG Awards honor Streisand, few LGBTQ+ actors 2024-02-25
- Queer entertainers made their mark—although not a major one—at the 2024 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, held Feb. 24 in Los Angeles. The event was live-streamed on Netflix for the first time. Indigenous and Two-Spirit actor ...


Gay News

WORLD Caribbean ruling, Pussy Riot, Russian raid, Canadian warning, anti-trans bar 2024-02-23
- The top court in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines dismissed a challenge to colonial-era anti-gay laws, Reuters reported. Javin Johnson and Sean Macleish—two gay men who had pushed to decriminalize ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Kristen Stewart, Rock Hudson, Talia Keys, 'True Detective,' Marvel comic 2024-02-23
- At the Berlin Film Festival, Kristen Stewart defended her photo shoot for a Rolling Stone magazine cover that went viral and divided audiences on social-media platforms, per The Hollywood Reporter. "The existence of a female body ...


Gay News

Second Glance Productions hosts LGBTQupid Soiree 2024-02-16
- In celebration of Valentine's Day, Chicago based film and media production company Second Glance hosted The LBGTQupid Soiree. The event, which was focused on spinning attitudes on this particular day, was presented at The iO ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Elton John, Hannah Gadsby, video game, Jennifer Lopez, queer thriller 2024-02-16
Video below - Sir Elton John has sold his Atlanta home and is now auctioning off more than 900 of his personal items that were kept in the 13,500-square-foot condo, The Daily Mail noted. The massive collection includes rare ...


Gay News

GALECA announces nominees for the Dorian Film Awards 2024-02-07
--From a press release - Feb. 5, 2024 - GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, consisting of over 500 entertainment critics, journalists and media icons, today announced the group's democratically chosen nominees for its 15th Dorian Film Awards. All of ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ JoJo Siwa, Tom Holland, Bowen Yang, Pet Shop Boys, Mariah Carey 2024-02-02
- In the wake of Nigel Lythgoe exiting So You Think You Can Dance, queer personality JoJo Siwa is returning to the series, per Deadline. Siwa, who was a judge on season 17 of the Fox show, will replace Lythgoe, who left ...


Gay News

Leather Archives & Museum announces 2024 Fetish Film Forum 2024-01-27
--From a press release - CHICAGO, Illinois—After a wildly successful inaugural year, including a 10-film series at the Leather Archives & Museum and a 5-film series at FACETS, the Leather Archives & Museum is thrilled to announce the continuation of Fetish ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Sundance items, Green Day, 'Wednesday,' Queerties, 'The Wiz' 2024-01-26
- At the Sundance Film Festival, Jodie Foster told Variety that the $1.4-billion success of Barbie helps confirm that Hollywood no longer views women directors as too much of a risk. She said, "With a big success ...


Gay News

WORLD Arrest in Brazil, athlete dies, Ghana attack, World Economic Forum 2024-01-26
- A 30-year-old man was arrested in Brazil on Jan. 18 for his alleged role in the stabbing murder of prominent NYC art dealer Brent Sikkema, Gay City News reported. Authorities took Cuban resident Alejandro Triana Trevez ...


Gay News

OSCARS Gladstone, Domingo receive nominations 2024-01-23
- LGBTQ+ actors Lily Gladstone and Colman Domingo were among those receiving Oscar nominations when they were announced Jan. 23. Gladstone received a Best Actress nod for her role in the Martin Scorsese-directed Killers of the Flower ...


Gay News

Out truth-teller Jeff Hiller takes his act on the road 2024-01-21
- Jeff Hiller is an openly gay American storyteller who is bringing his act to the Midwest in February. He's making his way across the United States while filming the third season of HBO's Somebody Somewhere and ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Laid,' 'Nimona,' Lukas Gage, Lil Nas X, Lily Gladstone, John Waters 2024-01-19
- Peacock has given a straight-to-series order to the comedy Laid, which is slated to feature queer actress Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Variety noted. Based on the Australian series of the same name, the ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.