It is July 2, six o’clock in the morning, and I have been awake since three. I used to be a person who could sleep through anything, but the times have changed. My film is opening in two days and I am – I have to admit it – nervous. It is not the usual film-opening-in-the-world anxiety, because I am an old timer who has made a few before. No, this is something much more profound, because this is the first film that I have ever made that bares my own private life. And of course – in some kind of comic life-imitating-a-Woody-Allen-film moment, this last month I have been wracked by phantom illnesses: my legs and arms have gone mysteriously numb, my belly has swollen, and I have had chest pains. So along with preparing for the film opening in NYC – my home town no less – I have made the rounds of doctors and taken the prerequisite tests for everything from diabetes to cancer, only to find out that so far I seem to be absolutely fine. (Although it hasn’t escaped me, that in my fantasies ending up in the hospital during the film opening might be a great way to avoid having to talk to anyone after they’ve watched the film!)
Now, it is important to back up a minute and say that up until now I have had no fear of this film — to many peoples dismay. On the opposite I picked up the camera five and half years ago to begin filming my life, the lives of my girlfriends and any women I would meet along the way, with a sense of desperate need that made me drop all self-consciousness. I was at loss, spinning in a life in which I couldn’t see myself. I had entered my forties and suddenly realized that I was invisible in the world because I didn’t fit – I wasn’t married and I didn’t have children. And none of my experiences of love seemed to count for anything – not just in the eyes of the world but worst, in my own eyes — because they hadn’t endured. In a last ditch effort, I took up the camera to get evidence of what I was; and even more, to try to trace a path to other women that could help me find my place on the planet as a female – an identity I had rejected my entire life.
So making this film was medicine. And all along the way when people asked me – “Aren’t you afraid of how you feel when it comes out?” I said, “Quite frankly, no”. And I meant it. I told them that to me showing my own real female life – without apology – was my political statement to say that woman should not be ashamed of our real lives. Now I still feel that, but I wasn’t prepared for the fear I would have now, when releasing the film in my own country, of being exposed and naked. And wondering how I will withstand the multitude of thoughts (of all kinds) people will have about me. Strangely, as hard as it may be to believe after seeing the film, I am a very private person. But desperation makes people do things out of character. And truthfully, making the film, I got what I needed from it – I found my connection to other women and the planet. This has nothing to do with what an audience or a reviewer thinks of it. Of course it is my very deepest wish that other women and men are helped, moved, and challenged by the piece – and that somehow my effort at honesty paves the way for more open, real, unashamed lives. But I guess I shouldn’t expect it to be easy out here on the precipice. All I know is that I have no idea what will happen next! - Jennifer