British film producer/director Lisa Gornick┬┤s first feature film Do I Love You? was shown at the 4th Britspotting Film Festival in April 2003. It was made on a shoestring budget and is a witty, creative and philosphical film that takes place in a vivid, contemporary London. The heroine (played by Lisa Gornick) is an awkward wide-eyed charasmatic lesbian who┬┤s on a quest to solve the riddles in her life while her friends and ex-girlfriends go from one crisis to another.
AVIVA-BERLIN: This is your first feature film. It┬┤s got lesbian characters in it but it wasn┬┤t advertised as a lesbian film in the Britspotting film festival. Why not?
Lisa Gornick: I wanted this film to be an universal film. I feel that when we as women go to the cinema we have to imagine interesting journeys of life through men and so I did want woman protagonists that men would have to indentify through. I always want to write the woman┬┤s voice. And I find being a lesbian quite philosophically interesting as well. I wanted to think about what I thought was a lesbian. This is just the beginning and obviously I haven┬┤t come to a conclusion. It┬┤s just about asking questions, not in a heavy way but just to have fun with it, really.
The film did really well at the London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival at the National Film Theatre earlier this year. That where it was premiered. I was concerned that maybe there were jokes in it where somebody would think, "Don┬┤t say bad things about being lesbian, don┬┤t start doubting your lesbianism." We don┬┤t need good propaganda, but lesbians do need a good image. I was really refreshed by the good response it got in London. I thought, "You know we┬┤re all ready to question ourselves more." I was very relieved by the audience┬┤s reaction of people not saying, "Sshhhh, don┬┤t open that can of worms, especially as far as men are concerned." It┬┤s not to be so constrained by labels. I don┬┤t think labels are very helpful. I don┬┤t like labels, I┬┤m always trying to scrape them of me.
AVIVA-BERLIN: Being a lesbian and being Jewish ...?
Lisa Gornick: (Laughs ...) Yeah? How many more lables can be put on me?
AVIVA-BERLIN: Being Jewish doesn┬┤t come up in your film at all. Why?
Lisa Gornick: It kind of comes up. I┬┤m a very secular Jew. I┬┤m hardly Jewish. I mean I feel it in my soul, with my ancestory but ... I suppose Jews can┬┤t claim to be the only people who always ask all the questions. Everybody asks questions. But I was raised by two parents who were brought up on Jewish humour and who were always asking questions like: "What is life?" And maybe you see that as a Jewish thing or not. I would never mention it like, "I┬┤m Jewish, by the way." I just couldn┬┤t. I would hardly like to say, "I┬┤m a lesbian, by the way." The Jewish thing to me is like saying I┬┤m Scottish. It just feels like something that┬┤s there ...
AVIVA-BERLIN: Are you Scottish?
Lisa Gornick: No, but I could be if you want. (laughs ...)
AVIVA-BERLIN: How old are you? Just for the record ...
Lisa Gornick: I┬┤m 36. How old did you think I was?
AVIVA-BERLIN: Probably about 36.
Lisa Gornick: (laughs ...) That┬┤s another label, I don┬┤t really want. I want to be label-less in life. Do men get labeled so much? You see, I think women get aged, they get religionized, they get sexualized. I think men just get away with just being men. And I think if I were really strong I┬┤d say, listen don┬┤t ask me whether I┬┤m Jewish, or a lesbian or how old I am. Because I think if women are going to go further in life, we┬┤ve got to take on the badges that men wear and they don┬┤t wear badges. Men are never asked their age. A lot of my film is about attacking labels.
AVIVA-BERLIN: Why don┬┤t more women make films? Do you think it┬┤s because women are on this earth to be adored and that┬┤s why they tend to be in film rather than directing them?
Lisa Gornick: It┬┤s the passivity of women that stretches across all societies. It┬┤s not just fundamental religion that┬┤s ruining women, but our own society is making women peverted, making them conform. You know, making them want to be adored and say, "Look at me." Or making them wax their bodies or pluck, pluck, pluck. And making them not daring to be strong and speak their own words. It┬┤s the universal upbringing of girls. And it runs into the film business as well which is always worried about the ┬┤audience┬┤. They┬┤re always thinking about this conventional, mythical audience of 15 to 25 year-old boys, men, whatever, and I don┬┤t think they exist. I mean they exist, but I think they┬┤d like to see anything. They don┬┤t just want to see men killing each other. Something has to change. Some people say that it┬┤s getting slightly better. 20 years ago it was really bad. There were hardly any women film directors but now 4% are women. It┬┤s just a case of sticking with it and insisting. Insisting that more women get into politics. And not being shy to be feminists. We are so embarrassed to be feminists and we┬┤ve forgotten that we┬┤ve hardly done any feminism.
AVIVA-BERLIN: Are you going to come back to Berlin?
Lisa Gornick: I┬┤d love to.
AVIVA-BERLIN: With a film in the Berlinale?
Lisa Gornick: You know what? That would be brilliant! I will!
Do I Love You?
Producer/Director: Lisa Gornick
Do I Love You? can be viewed in the Britspotting film and video library at the Britspotting Festival Centre Neurotitan, Rosenthaler Str. 39, Berlin Mitte. Tel: 0179 724 2342