Across The Margin : The Podcast — Ahead of the Curve with Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow

Across The Margin: The Podcast celebrates lesbian-rights icon Franco Stevens who launched the best-selling lesbian magazine ever published through an interview with directors Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow…

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This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow, co-directors of the critically-acclaimed documentary Ahead of the Curve which chronicles the career of lesbian-rights icon Franco Stevens who launched Curve, the best-selling lesbian magazine ever published.

Against the hostile backdrop of hate crimes and family rejection in the 1990s, with few celebrities or politicians willing to be out publicly, Curve magazine dared to celebrate a full, inclusive range of lesbians, queer women, and nonbinary people, seeding some of the most pressing conversations around LGBTQ+ community today. Growing up, Franco never saw any representation of queer women — 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 safe place for lesbians in the form of Curve magazine. Her approach to threats and erasure in the ‘90s was to highlight all kinds of LGBTQ+ women and make them beautifully visible. The magazine helped build the foundation for the movements being led by today’s queer activists.

In this episode host Michael Shields, Jen Rainin, and Rivkah Beth Medow dig deeply into what the existence of Curve magazine meant to lesbians and the lesbian community while marveling about the obstacles and adversities Franco Stevens navigated bringing Curve to life. They discuss the controversy and complexities surrounding the word “lesbian,” a dispute concerning the name of the magazine which almost brought the publication down, the important work of The Curve Foundation, and, ultimate, they celebrate the profoundly inspiring legacy of Franco Stevens and the magazine she created which meant so much to countless people.

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Jen Rainin’s work in film is focused on building community, deepening understanding of social justice issues, and telling great stories. Her executive producer 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. As CEO of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Jen created a grant and filmmaker services program in partnership with SFFILM to support narrative filmmakers in the Bay Area whose work addresses issues of social justice. Through these grants, she has supported such films as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Test, Circumstance, Sorry to Bother You, and Short Term 12. With SFFILM, Jen created the Producer’s Fellowship to help independent producers develop sustainable careers, and the Women Filmmaker Fellowship to work toward gender parity in the filmmaking community. A trained Meisner actress, Jen has worked both on Bay Area stages and in independent film.

Rivkah Beth Medow makes award-winning films and raises daughters. A strong social/environmental justice river winds its way through each of her projects. Feature documentary credits include Ahead of The Curve (Producer, 2020); Let Them Eat Dirt (Producer/Director 2019);  Being George Clooney (Producer, 2016: Festivals, Netflix); The Nine (Associate Producer, 2016: Festivals); Sons of a Gun (Director/Producer, 2009: SXSW, Festivals, PBS); The Next Frontier (Associate Producer, 2010, PBS, regional Emmy Award); Farming The Seas (Associate Producer, 2005 Festivals, PBS, CINE Golden Eagle). That is How Motherhood Works (2017) and Rainbow Bridge (2018) are her first narrative shorts and both premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival. She has directed and produced documentary film projects for the non-profits Pachamama Alliance and Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Rivkah has also helmed two major Impact Engagement Campaigns for her films with over 100 Strategic Partners including Environmental Defense, NRDC, National Coalition for the Homeless, and National Alliance on Mental Illness. As a Board Director for The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, she has awarded over 8 million dollars to narrative film projects including Sorry To Bother You, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Hellion, Fruitvale Station, and Short Term 12. 

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