Guest Blogger – Mary Dalton
As the 5th Annual Show Me Justice Film Festival nears on April 9th and 10th, filmmakers whose work will be featured in the festival will be guest blogging about cinema and social justice. The following post by filmmaker Mary Dalton centers on her approach to documenting the lives of Lennie and Pearl, the two women at the heart of the fantastic documentary LIVING IN THE OVERLAP, which screens on Thursday, April 9, 2015 in the 7pm Short Feature program in Hendricks Hall on the campus of the University of Central Missouri.
My co-director Cindy Hill and I are thrilled that LIVING IN THE OVERLAP is an Official Selection for the Show Me Justice Film Festival! Cindy will be representing our film at the festival, and I hope you’ll be able to see this beautiful love story and engage her in conversation about it.
Lennie and Pearl have compelling personal stories, which is part of what draws them together, and overlapping interests, which is part of what keeps them together. They articulate profound things about their relationship, like the concept of living in the overlap, and the way they have worked out this philosophy in practice is inspiring. A big part of the overlap is their shared commitment to social justice issues, which stretches back decades and is represented in this film mainly by their LGBT advocacy work. They have also talked at length about the role travel has played in drawing them together through many trips over the years that feed their adventurous spirits. Other things exist in the overlap, too, like their love of the fine arts and a deep appreciation of the natural world.
As a filmmaker, I’ve tended toward telling stories about people I find inspirational in one way or another – and these stories usually include the communities that surround and sustain them – but I tend to focus more on who people are than on what they do. Both are important, of course, but it’s the inside-out approach that feels most natural to me. Getting to know Lennie and Pearl has been a joy, and from the very beginning, it’s been their love story that has drawn me in and made me feel a keen desire to make this film. These women have the type of enduring relationship with an intimate partner that I think most people want to have.
For me, as writer and co-director of the film and as a straight woman, part of the larger goal of the project is to help viewers see that Lennie and Pearl are absolutely meant for one another and that differences may exist between good relationships and bad ones but not because partners happen to be gay or straight or somewhere outside of those firm categories. The reductive thinking that goes along with separating groups into binaries leads to an “us” and “them” way of thinking about the world that is dangerous. We adopted a personal essay approach to this film with the intention of complicating those binaries and disrupting preconceptions that go along with them. I believe that relationships between partners that expand the world for both of them, offer intellectual connection, deep bonding, and a sustained romantic spark are a little bit rare. I’ve watched a lot of relationships closely over the years and have found few that I admire and even fewer that make me think, “That’s like what I want.” They way Lennie and Pearl have structured their lives together lets me know that this type of relationship is possible and sustainable.
If you want to “meet” Lennie and Pearl before the screening, we have an interview with them and a number of videos on our website, www.lennieandpearl.com, and clips from the film are also featured in a recent Human Rights Campaign (HRC) video about that that was picked up by Upworthy, https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=956093464431512&pnref=story. Enjoy!
~Mary Dalton (and co-director Cindy Hill)