We’re making this film because LGBTQ rights remain under attack, and VISIBILITY is one of our most powerful tools to combat discrimination. At the heart of this work are the twin truths of radical self-love and the idea that you have to “see it to be it.”
AHEAD OF THE CURVE is about Franco Stevens, who founded the most successful lesbian magazine in the world, and the impact her work had on our culture. Growing up, Franco never saw any representation of queer women and she didn’t even know it was possible for a woman to be gay. When she realized she was a lesbian, it changed the course of her life.
In 1990, Franco created a magazine that was a safe place for lesbians. It arrived in a brown wrapper every month bringing news and images of strong, diverse women; the beautiful richness of her community. Today, you can find Curve on the newsstand next to Self and Cosmo. But for its subscribers, it ships in an opaque wrapper – because it’s still crucial to protect queer women’s anonymity and safety.
Franco just learned that the magazine is in trouble, and after years of retirement she is wading back in to figure out if there is a way for Curve to continue serving the community. She reaches out to educator Kim Katrin Milan, YouTube star Arielle Scarcella, and slam poet Denice Frohman to learn about where lesbian community is today. Kim shares the powerful cultural shift in which queer women and Women of Color are increasingly seen as the authors of their own experiences. Denice talks about how important it is that we feel connected to a lineage of strong queer women, and the beauty of coming together in community to share our stories and our truths. Arielle explains how young queer people today feel more trust for authentic stories shared directly.
Should Franco rally the community to keep the magazine going? Should the print publication evolve into another entity that supports lesbian visibility? Or is it time to let it all go? With the imminent demise of her magazine bearing down, Franco reconnects with her original mission to guide her decisions.
Cast & Crew
Jen Rainin’s work in film is focused on building community, deepening understanding of social justice issues, and telling great stories. Her EP credits include STAGE LEFT (2011), a documentary about the history of theater in the Bay Area, and TWO SPIRITS (2009), a documentary about gender identity in Native American cultures which aired on Independent Lens. AHEAD OF THE CURVE is her directorial debut.
Meshell Ndegeocello is an authentic musical thinker and an uncompromising artist. A bass player above all else, Meshell brings her warm, fat, and melodic groove to everything she does and has appeared alongside the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Alanis Morrisette, James Blood Ulmer, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Tony Allen, John Medeski, Billy Preston, and Chaka Khan. Meshell’s composing credits include QUEEN SUGAR and THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD.
Rivkah Beth Medow
Rivkah Beth Medow is an award-winning filmmaker who has created, directed and produced documentary, broadcast, commercial, and non-profit productions including SONS OF A GUN (2009; PBS); BEING GEORGE CLOONEY (2016; Netflix); and THE NINE by Katy Grannan (2016).
Jessica Congdon’s credits include the award-winning feature-length documentary DOLORES (Sundance 2017). She produced, wrote and edited the documentary films THE MASK YOU LIVE IN (Sundance 2015) and MISS REPRESENTATION (Sundance 2011) with Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
Svetlana Cvetko is an award-winning cinematographer with a dual focus in documentary and fiction. Her credits include INSIDE JOB, which received the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary, INEQUALITY FOR ALL (Sundance 2013), and RED ARMY (Cannes 2014).
Franco Stevens founded the most successful lesbian magazine in the world, raising lesbian visibility in a way that connected the lesbian community, created the lesbian market for advertisers, helped the lesbian community accept femme-identifying lesbians, changed the way lesbians are seen by the mainstream, highlighted the transgender experience, brought attention to lesbian families, raised awareness of attacks on LGBT rights, and amplified the work of lesbian activists.
Kim Katrin Milan
Kim Katrin Milan is an award winning internationally acclaimed educator, writer & artist. She has been recognized as one of The Root’s “Young Feminists to Watch,” and celebrated in Canada as 2016’s National Youth Role Model and nationally as one of the 50 Most Loved Gay Canadians. Kim speaks at universities and contributes to the press throughout Canada and the US, both independently and alongside her husband Tiq Milan about human rights and equity issues.
Denice Frohman is an award-winning poet, educator, performer and speaker. She has been commissioned by The Met, ESPN and Twitter. She has been a featured speaker at over 200 colleges and universities; and hundreds of K-12 schools, community arts spaces, non-profit organizations, detention centers, and conferences across the country, including The White House. As a queer, mixed Latina woman, her work explores the tension between the stories we tell about ourselves, the ones told about us, and the ones we tell about each other
Lauren McBride is an independent film producer from Atlanta, GA and is currently based in Oakland, CA. She is a 2017 Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellow and a 2018 Film Independent Producing Lab Fellow. Her first feature film, SELAH AND THE SPADES, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
Clare Major is a cinematographer and documentary filmmaker based in Oakland, California. She has filmed on four continents and specializes in stories that illuminate the lives of women and the intersections of cultures. She was Director of Photography on WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS, which premiered at SXSW in 2019.
Mariam Dwedar is an Egyptian-Filipina cinematographer and filmmaker. Mariam was recognized by DOCNYC, America’s largest documentary festival, as one of ’40 Under 40′ rising stars in documentary filmmaking.