Tribeca Film Festival 2023- “Chasing Chasing Amy”
The legacy of Kevin Smith’s 1997 film “Chasing Amy” is strong, but complex. Director Sav Rodgers was deeply affected by the work and created the new documentary “Chasing Chasing Amy” to examine the film’s impact on the LGBTQ+ community and to give thanks for how it helped give focus his own life.
Rodgers was 12 years old when he first saw “Chasing Amy”, the picture changing his life forever. As the filmmaker states, “It was a transformative experience. It was the first time I really saw queer people onscreen.”
For many of the younger generation of the 1990s, it was the first time they would see an honest portrayal of a queer character on film. Yet, to call “Chasing Amy” honest is itself a controversial moniker.
While critics were kind and audiences supported the work, the reception to Smith’s film wasn’t all roses. Many found the film to be a straight male fantasy that is inaccurate (some would say, phony) in its portrayal of a queer woman and her sexuality.
Writer/director Guinevere Turner has the comment that defines how many in the LGBTQ+ community see Smith’s film, “There are things in the movie that are so ill-advised.”
While Smith’s well-reviewed picture spoke to him in positive ways, Sav Rodgers digs into the controversy, opening the conversation with the interviews of filmmakers and writers, (including Kevin Smith himself) to dissect the many layers of his own experiences with “Chasing Amy”.
Today, Sav Rodgers calls Kevin Smith’s film “lifesaving”. A queer youth himself, the picture helped the director come to terms with his sexual identity and continues to exist as a cinematic role model for him.
Throughout the many interview subjects, Rodgers’ most potent “sit down” is his time spent with Joey Lauren Adams, star of “Chasing Amy”. The actress (while proud of her work in the film) struggles with the memories and legacy of the time spent making and distributing the film.
Adams speaks honestly of how the screenplay wasn’t her truth. It disturbs the actress to see the dirty laundry of her time with Kevin Smith (a former boyfriend) being dissected on film. The two were having major issues that would lead to their breakup, and Smith put a lot of it into the main male character played by Ben Affleck. For Adams, it was all a rehash of the personal pain she was experiencing in her own life.
A darker memory for Adams is her time at the Sundance Film Festival when promoting the film in 1997. Adams is frank in recalling how she was sexually harassed by older male investors and producers, including one Harvey Weinstein. She speaks with great anger and disdain regarding the experience.
It is a conversation that had a profound impact on Rodgers, who later claims it made him “grow up real fast and realign his expectations”.
With all of the controversy surrounding the legacy of Kevin Smith’s film, Sav Rodgers is one (of presumably many) who saw the film in positive ways. He saw something special within the characters that allowed a positive journey of self.
It is in that personal voyage of emotion and discovery where “Chasing Chasing Amy” finds a heartfelt honesty and one that can be felt in the conversations between Rodgers and Kevin Smith. Both men are full of emotion, gratitude, and respect for one another, and their moments together are pure love.
Love and respect are the ultimate message in Sav Rodgers’ important documentary.
In this time of an America breathing with hate, it is harder for Queer youth to find an immediate haven in which to fully live their truths. At the same time, celebrations of LGBTQ+ pride become stronger and stronger, sometimes drowning out the bigotry.
“Chasing Chasing Amy” is a film for anyone unsure if there is a place for them to be free or if they have enough allies.
As Rodgers’ moving documentary reveals, the LGBTQ+ communities do indeed have many allies. We are legion, and together, our voices are strong.
Chasing Chasing Amy
Written & Directed by Sav Rodgers
NR, 95 Minutes, Professional Amateur Productions