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A ‘Vagina’ in Woolf’s Clothing Screens at Outfest

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VAGINA_WOLF_Still3A pink-and-red vagina costume is not a fashion choice just anyone can pull off.  Yet Anna Margareta Albelo can, and does, in her latest film, “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?”

The Cuban-American filmmaker is vivacious and occasionally outrageous. She’s also tenacious, talented and knows how to tell a good story.

“Vagina Wolf,” which wowed audiences in its premiere at Frameline in San Francisco and continues with a sell-out screening at Outfest tonight, takes the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and turns it into an autobiographical, all-girl mash-up.

“Virginia Woolf?” was originally a Tony Award-winning play by Edward Albee. It starred real-life couple Burton and Taylor as a college professor and his wife, along with Robert Preston and Sandy Dennis.

The “Vagina Wolf” cast includes Guinevere Turner (The L Word, American Psycho), Carrie Preston (True Blood, The Good Wife), Joel Michaely (Rules of Attraction) and Drew Droege. “I play the Richard Burton role, George, the sad sack of the bunch,” says Albelo.

Turner, a veteran actress and writer for film and television, plays Albelo’s best friend, Penelope, as well as the Elizabeth Taylor role in their film.

“It was, you know, the usual mayhem,” says Turner, relating her experience on the making of “Vagina Wolf,” “but I absolutely love working with friends and it was really fun. Maybe it won’t be for everybody because it’s an Anna Margarita Albelo film, which means there are so many elements to it that are unexpected, there’s animation, a fantasy sequences and all this great, really fun, hilarious stuff and there’s no other lesbian movie out there like it.”

“Plus,” Turner adds, “I get to be fabulous and bitchy.”

But Albelo’s storytelling techniques are effective, and Michael Urban’s script, based on the story by Albelo, is inspired—sweet, romantic, funny and clever.

The problems that the character of Anna has are universal—she’s a woman seeking love when everything around her has fallen apart, she has no job, no home, no girlfriend. Because Albelo’s filmmaking style is playful, artistic and intelligent, the film is just plain fun.

VAGINA_WOLF_Still5The idea for the film came after she finished “Hooters,” a behind-the-scenes documentary filmed on the set of indy filmmaker Cheryl Dunye’s experimental film “The Owls.”

“I went through this whole kind of re-analysis of life, who am I and what am I doing?,” says the animated filmmaker/actress. “I made Hooters living in my friend’s tool shed. So that whole process of being so passionate, making a feature with no money, it really brought me to the breaking point, kind of like bringing me to the essence of who I am.”

Parts of ‘Vagina Wolf’ are autobiographical in that way, for instance, her character Anna lives in a friend’s garage and makes the film while living there. Like the protagonist of “Vagina Wolf,” she’s a lesbian working to have a better life, “but realizing that she has a lot still to discover, especially at 40.

“For me, ‘Virginia Woolf’ symbolically means a strong woman, a sexual woman … and I love that it evokes a monster. Our desire is not so clear-cut, especially to ourselves.”

“Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf” screens at Outfest in DGA 1 theater on Friday, July 19, at 7 p.m.

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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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