Ahead of the Curve
Armed with a handful of credit cards and a dash of miraculous luck at the races in 1990, plucky 23-year-old Franco Stevens was able to scrape enough money together to kickstart Curve magazine (formerly Deneuve), which would go on to become the most successful lesbian magazine ever published. It’s this story that first-time director Jen Rainn sets her sights on in her feature debut – though there’s more to Ahead of the Curve than Stevens’s entrepreneurial triumph. Rainn uses the feature as a vehicle to trace lesbian visibility and create a dialogue for where the word “lesbian” fits in today.
As an account of Curve’s conception, the documentary is nothing short of inspirational. Even in the world of fiction, Stevens’s story would be borderline unbelievable, but it’s all true. She really did get the funds to publish the first three issues of her magazine by gambling money she got from credit cards. And that stroke of fortune sparked a catalyst of positive change that gave the lesbian community a space in which they could belong, no matter who they were or what they looked like.
Where Rainn’s film truly comes into its own, though, lies in its ability to extend the discussion of queer visibility from the early days of the magazine to the present, where the future of the publication hangs in doubt. By drawing parallels between then and now, the filmmaker simultaneously illustrates the waves of progress that Stevens and her team were able to create, alongside establishing a picture of the queer community 30 years later. And through interviews with a selection of prominent young activists, the project introduces viewers to the ongoing discourse on identity occurring within the LGBTQ+ community in a sensitive and balanced manner.
Ahead of the Curve is a must-see documentary, both for long-time readers of Curve and those discovering its existence for the first time – not just for its stranger-than-fiction history, but because of the honest and insightful message at its core. For better or worse, the world is a different place from what it was in the 90s. However, visibility is just as vital now as it has ever been.
Ahead of the Curve is released digitally on demand on 4th June 2021.
Watch the trailer for Ahead of the Curve here: