Rosemary Baker is a queer filmmaker and visual artist with an established, and award-winning, career in unscripted television in the UK. She lives and works in Cardiff, Wales. Originally commissioned for the Channel 4 Random Acts short film platform at the Edinburgh International TV Festival in 2019, “Lesbian.” is her debut short film, and her first collaboration with the Beirut-based spoken word artist Lisa Luxx.
As a lesbian woman who has never felt fully comfortable with the word “lesbian”, this film is extremely personal to me. Lisa Luxx’s poem nails an aspect of the queer female experience in 2020 which, to my mind, no other person or piece of work has managed to put its finger on. Uniquely, too, it’s addressed as much to lesbians as it is to the rest of the world. When I first heard it, I felt called out: why did I feel uncomfortable calling myself a lesbian, and isn’t it time that changed?
From when I first approached Lisa about this project, I felt three things strongly: 1) the film should centre on Lisa delivering her poem straight to camera as a direct address, 2) it needed to feature a diverse cast of real lesbians of different ethnicities and faiths, with trans lesbians explicitly included, and 3) the film should evoke a safe space made unsafe. As a visual artist I was able to design, paint and shoot almost all of the props used as set-dressing throughout the film to create a surreal, neglected, inhospitable sense of place. Using body paint on the cast was a way of stifling, subsuming and burying the characters in these hostile surroundings – but crucially it was a device that the cast themselves could manually deconstruct on camera, letting us see them begin to take control and assert themselves.