Outfest Closing Night: A Filmmaker ‘Chasing’ Closure

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“Chasing Amy” was a film that movie critic Roger Ebert said was the “one good film” he was reviewing that week back in 1997. Both Siskel & Ebert gave it “thumbs up.”

But it was a controversial film among queer people at the time, primarily because of its gay girl-meets-boy theme targeting a mainstream audience.

It was also the one LGBT-themed film that Sav Rodgers, writer-director of Outfest’s closing night film “Chasing Chasing Amy,” was obsessed with as a bullied 12-year-old growing up in Kansas.

Rodgers’ documentary revisits many of the original locations used in the 1997 “Chasing Amy.” Key players from the original film’s cast and crew are interviewed, most notably writer-director Kevin Smith (“Clerks,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”).

Smith is surprisingly open and welcoming to the young filmmaker, and overtly grateful that his film was embraced so thoroughly by someone in the LGBT community.

Actress-Writer Guinevere Turner (“Go Fish”; “The L Word,” “American Psycho”), an icon of lesbian film and friend of Smith’s, recalls that it was always going to be controversial to make a movie about a lesbian falling for a man.

Ironically, Smith’s original inspiration for the Alyssa and Holden characters’ romance in “Chasing Amy” were Turner and Scott Mosier, Smith’s colleague and a “Chasing Amy” producer.

Their relationship is what Turner refers to as a “romantic friendship.”

Christopher Racster, a filmmaker and former Outfest Executive Director, says in Rodgers’ film that “Chasing Amy” was a groundbreaking film in that it “looked at identity politics in a way most films [at that time] hadn’t.”

Joey Lauren Adams (“Mallrats,” “Big Daddy”), plays the lesbian Alyssa in “Chasing Amy,” and she’s the girl of Holden’s dreams (played by Ben Affleck). She is not a lesbian in real-life, and was at the time Smith’s girlfriend.

In writing the script about the romantic friendship of his indy colleagues Turner and Mosier, Smith (pictured with Rodgers, right) included his own insecurities about his relationship with Adams.


On the personal side for Rodgers, we meet girlfriend Riley, and a secret gets revealed–which apparently wasn’t originally intended for “Chasing Chasing Amy” when the documentary was conceived.

The documentary has the feel of a story unfolding unexpectedly as the cameras roll. While Rodgers’ story is an interesting one, having original “Chasing Amy” cast members (Adams, Turner, Jason Lee) and crew sit for interviews gives the film more widespread appeal.

An audience might sense it is witnessing some cathartic moments for certain participants: Smith, because he received some validation for a film he made almost 30 years ago. Although it was among the first mainstream films to humanize gay characters, it may have pegged him as less of an ally than he apparently is.

As for Rodgers, it feels as though this filmmaking experience may have been “chasing closure,” and has finally put a childhood obsession to rest.

During Adams’ interview, one startling moment has one wondering if everyone will feel better or worse after revisiting “Chasing Amy.” There’s a brief discussion of the Harvey Weinstein connection to “Chasing Amy” during her interview, and Miramax’s support of other Smith films.  

Ultimately, “Chasing Chasing Amy” is a human story, and mainly one person’s journey. We see a transformation before our eyes, and maybe some understanding, if not empathy, will come out of it.

That’s why it’s important for films like this to be made, to see and get a little more understanding of the who, what and why of people living a life that might be different from our own.

Chasing Amy,” screening 7 p.m. July 23, Montalban, 1615 Vine St, Hollywood, CA 90028. Closing Night Film Tickets include Closing Night Party.

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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