December 6, 2012 | by Santiago Melli-Huber
Lesbian seeks support for new documentary
Lesbian Alternative, Kelsey Brannan, gay news, Washington Blade

A vintage clipping used in Kelsey Brannan’s in-the-works lesbian documentary. (Image courtesy of Brennan)

A local director is seeking the support of the LGBT community to help her tell a story she’s passionate about.

Georgetown University student Kelsey Brannan and the Washington Blade are hosting a preview of Brannan’s upcoming documentary “Labor of Love” at the Blade offices (1712 14th St., 2nd floor) on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. Following the 10-minute preview will be a Q&A segment with Brannan and subjects of the film.

Complimentary wine will be served and guests are encouraged to network, socialize and discuss what they would like from a new space.

“Labor of Love” follows the D.C. Women’s Initiative, founded this past March, in its mission to establish a physical space to connect lesbians in the community and existing organizations together. Their goal is to open a space in March. The documentary also includes vignettes highlighting the history of former lesbian spaces in D.C., including Sisterspace and Lammas Bookstore.

In the film, former Lammas Bookstore owner Denise Bump reflects on the impact the store had, saying it was part of a movement of women helping other women. She hopes to see something similar in the new center. Bump is head of the D.C. Women’s Initiative and will be available during the event’s Q&A segment.

The evening is largely a fundraising event. Brannan is attempting to reach a goal of $15,000 by Jan. 1. The funds will go to hiring a full-time editor, composer and cinematographer and cover other production costs. She has raised $2,800 through startsomegood.com. All donations will be canceled if she does not meet the goal by the deadline. While she is confident she will be successful, if she falls short, Brannan said she will explore other outlets of fundraising.

She hopes the event will generate interest in the documentary throughout the lesbian community. In a written statement, Brannan says, “The event is designed to get people more engaged with the project, secure more donors and get feedback from the community about what women want from a new space.”

Brannan estimates that about 40 percent of her filming is complete, thanks to “the generosity of my friends with cameras.” Filming will continue in January and February and the documentary will premiere in late April.

Brannan began developing the film as her master’s thesis project, which she defends in May. When she first arrived in Washington, Brannan searched for a physical space where she and other lesbians could spend time and connect with the community. In a video statement on her film’s website (laboroflovefilm.org), she says she discovered a history of such spaces, which no longer exist, compiled by the Rainbow History Project.

“It’s hard to tap into a community when you move to a new place,” Brannan says, commenting on her early days in D.C. “I wanted to look into the past to see why these spaces existed and why they disappeared.”

This personal desire to find a community became the inspiration for her film.

The project has two components. Brannan plans to expand the documentary and show it at festivals, including the Reel Affirmations Xtra series in June. There is also an archive on the film’s site featuring clips, interview segments and personal stories about the importance of having such spaces for women. Brannan plans for the project to be ongoing.

In the film, D.C. Women’s Initiative member June Crenshaw explains how such a space would fill a void in the community.

“The space is not going take the place of all of the organizations and groups that are out there doing a whole host of wonderful things,” she says, “but it’s really going to provide that centralized place for us to find each other.”

Brannan credits her community as a driving force behind the documentary and appreciates the support she has received. “Every woman I interviewed was a huge part of the project,” she says. “Without them, it wouldn’t be possible, and without the D.C. Women’s Initiative space, I wouldn’t have a narrative.”

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