Last night I attended a special screening of LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS, a fantastic documentary by filmmaker Laurie Kahn about romances and the women who write them.
The film has been in the works since all the way back in 2009 when she attended the RWA National conference and thought, hm, I’m onto something here. She secured a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to not only work on the film but also a full cross-platform documenting of the subject with a website, The Popular Romance Project. At the website people can see hundreds of hours of interviews and footage that didn’t make it into the finished documentary.
And like romance novels themselves, the film has faced an uphill battle against sexism. A special bill was introduced to Congress specifically to de-fund this documentary as “wasteful to the taxpayer.” Because of course studying the largest and most prolific form of popular fiction in the United States (by far: 75 million Americans read at least one romance novel last year, dwarfing every other genre) must be a “waste”?
Obviously we disagree, and thankfully the bill was voted down, and the documentary has at last come to fruition.
I first heard about the project in 2011 when I spoke at the IASPR conference and Laurie was there filming various talks and speakers. We’ve crossed paths a lot since then, as I’ve been attending a lot of romance conventions since then (that one was my first!) and so has she, first gathering footage for the film and later promoting and publicizing it. She had it on continuous showings one day at this year’s RWA but my schedule was so packed that I missed it, so I was really glad to see the finished film in a theater.
Some folks saw an early version of the film at the Library of Congress earlier this year, but this was more polished, with full musical score. And boy is it polished! A truly seamless piece of filmmaking that takes you from the glitz of the RITA Awards ceremony to the bunny slippers on Beverly Jenkins feet (“I write in pajamas,” she says in the film).
The movie is sort of like a romance novel itself. It opens with some very slick and enticing cover artwork and quickly introduces you to some very engaging and interesting characters (Eloisa James, Radclyffe, Beverly Jenkins, and more) and their conflicts (women’s popular fiction has been denigrated and supressed all the way back to Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was jealous of how much money “domestic fiction” was making). There are struggles and triumphs along the way, the fight for freedom, the fight for justice, the fight for what we love, and of course, as all romances must have, a happy ending.
It’ll be coming to iTunes soon, but if you’re interested in setting up a screening at your local school, library, theater, university, book club, etc… send an inquiry to email@example.com or call 617-924-6633. The LBTC team will give you postcards, flyers, posters, and everything you need to host a screening!
I highly recommend this film to any romance reader or writer. If you’ve ever felt the incredible sense of community that exists around romance conventions, or you’ve just dreamed of feeling that connection, this film will thrill your heart.
Official trailer (which I just realized I’m in! I’m the woman in black with my hair in a bun at the bar from 1:11 to 1:12 seconds — filmed at Lady Jane’s Salon at Madame X in NYC!):