TIGLFF: Lesbian dystopia in Cheryl Dunye's The OWLS

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The film is composed of two intertwining storylines, using reality TV-style confessionals in order to inform the narrative, basically divided into Old Wise Lesbians and Old Washed-up Lesbians. Although it's a good effort to look at collectivism, failed ideals and disillusionment, I wish the cast and director had been a little bit less in love with their idea of collective work, and more focused on writing a story that could stand on its own without all the extra explaining.


See info box for screening time, or go to tiglff.com, website for the Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Cheryl Dunye's The OWLS is a portrait of liberal lesbian dystopia, set on an isolated estate in the desert. At its worst it's a shabby indie-flick that has been spiced up with a good dose of masturbation scenes and implications of violence. At its best it is a discussion about the possible meanings and repercussions of role-playing, and existing within a collective reality.

Skye, the mysterious stranger (played by Skyler Cooper), is the best part of this film. Her presence is electric and fills the viewer with anticipation, in contrast to the boredom-inducing routine dissatisfaction one witnesses for the most part of The OWLS.

It would have been nice to see some more consideration given to ideas around race. The film does move beyond tokenism by featuring two black leading characters, and through them is able to briefly address the tension between black women in white spaces (which the liberal lesbian world primarily is). But unfortunately the film doesn't go much further than that.

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