Female Filmmaker Friday: Desiree Akhavan, Representing the LGBTQ Community Experiences

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"I really loved this story because it fiercely advocated for ugliness and people and how they don’t mean to be ugly.”

Desiree Akhavan is a New York writer, director, and actress. The daughter of Iranian immigrant parents, Akavan found her passion for film while taking an impromptu film class at college. She made her first short film, Two Drink Minimum, while studying abroad in London. In 2011, she was listed as Filmmaker’s 25 New Faces to Watch for writing, directing, and acting in in the web series The Slope. Akhaven’s film Appropriate Behaviour premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. While the film deals with subject matter close to Akhavan’s real life, she has said it is not a biopic; the themes of bisexuality, being an Iranian-American, and dealing with a breakup all resonate with Akhavan, but are not spot-on reenactments from her life. These are topics she’s familiar with and wants to talk about as a filmmaker, and they are also underrepresented territory in narratives, which makes these story elements all the more interesting to watch and discuss.

In 2018, her film adaptation of Emily M. Danforth’s novel, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, debuted at Sundance Film Festival. It stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Cameron Post, a teenager who is caught making-out with another girl on prom night. Post is sent to a religious camp for “conversion therapy” where counselors are there to help bring these teens back to God. The tone and subject matter will resonate with many in the LGBTQ community. But there is a unique take, in that the film doesn’t wish to judge or show black/white, right/wrong judgments towards even its worst characters; the counselors looking to “cure” these teens genuinely think they are helping them, even though it is made clear their ideas of "help" are dangerously misguided.

Hear what Akhavan and the cast of The Miseducation of Cameron Post have to say about their film: