AHEAD OF THE CURVE – Review by Jennifer Merin

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Ahead of the Curve, from co-directors Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow, is a smart and impressively comprehensive documentary covering the establishment and history of Curve Magazine (formerly known by the title Deneuve) and showing the Lesbian publication’s enormous impact on LGBTQ+ culture and lifestyle.

In addition to profiling Curve‘s dynamic and charismatic founder, Frances “Franco” Stevens, the film chronicles the Lesbian movement from the 1990s to the present, as it struggled — and continues to struggle — against persecution, discrimination and misunderstanding by making the Lesbian community, lifestyle and accomplishments highly visible.

Curve Magazine’s history is actually quite complex and fascinating, including editorial debates and strategies about whether or not to use the term ‘Lesbian’ on the cover, how to garner mainstream advertising, how to convince influential celebrities (including Melissa Etheridge and Lily Tomlin among many others) to ‘come out’ or just participate in its cover stories, and how to negotiate a stressful and very unpleasant legal battle with Catherine Deneuve over use of her name as its title — causing the magazine to change its name from Deneuve to Curve.

Franco, who founded the publication in 1900, suffered a debilitating accident in 1997 and she resigned from her leadership position at the magazine when it was sold to Avalon Media in 2010. After spending a decade in independent contemplation and LGBTQ+ activism with regard to ongoing and accelerating threats to all in the LGBTQ+ community, and to prevent the possible cessation of publication of Curve, Franco steps back into the picture to reaffirm the significance and influence of the magazine and to assure its continued life.

EDITOR’S NOTE:Ahead of the Curve is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for May 28, 2021.

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).