"The Most Lesbian Thing": Talking with the Filmmakers of The Ladies Almanack on Bookslut
A lovely chat for Bookslut by Mairead Case with The Ladies Almanack's Stephanie Acosta and Daviel Shy about the economic, spiritual and intellectual realitiesof this film movment.
The Ladies Almanack is a book published by Djuna Barnes in 1928, a knotted and decorated calendar-record of Natalie Clifford Barney’s Parisian salon, and a film directed by Daviel Shy and produced by Stephanie Acosta. (Daviel and Stephanie are my friends; we went to the same graduate school and Stephanie and I were neighbors for a long time. I read in support of the film at the Leslie Lohman Museum in New York, and my bed is in a deleted scene.)
What I love about this film -- this entire project -- besides my friends’ beauty and burn is how it demands more from nostalgia. Shy and Acosta adore Barnes and work her into their daily lives, but instead of making her a straight valentine they’re building a giant prism. They’re illuminating, holographing, intersecting, holding space and seeing difference outside of capitalism and across generations. They hopped on a plane to meet with Hélène Cixous about her role in the film, found themselves assisting on a sex-positive short film in French, and ended up casting all those people in the Almanack too.
Significantly too this movie is being made without financial security on anyone’s part. For me this makes it even more real and urgent, particularly because many collaborators are in their thirties, at least, and know the sick-feeling of working like hell and still not making rent. (If you would like to buy Jessica LeMaster’s tarot cards to support the film, you can.)
In my life I have never known a project that is both so solid in its politics and so tenderly open to the future, and the lives we need to survive as ourselves. I feel that besides making a film, Shy and Acosta are doing work towards new language about affect, money, eros, and home. I want them to be famous for this. I want to watch this movie, which will defy linear narrative and solo definitions just like the book that inspired it, and then I want to watch it again and again.
Daviel, Stephanie, and I talked about the Alamanack across a spectrum of media in early summer 2015, after they’d returned from filming in Paris and just before filming started in Chicago.