Linda Yellen camera.jpg

Recently, I've had the pleasure of re-connecting with the talented award-winning filmmaker Linda Yellen. As director, writer, and producer, Linda has beautifully fashioned 21 films that reflect her singular ability to tell intriguing stories about complicated characters. She's just finished writing and directing Fluidity, a remarkable and groundbreaking film about the second sexual revolution. But more about that later.

I first met college student Linda Yellen close to 40 years ago, while working for Don Rugoff, the then owner of 23 movie theaters in New York City and the founder of Cinema V Ltd, an independent film distribution company that gave TLC to such diverse and unique films as Bruce Brown's motorcross feature On Any Sunday to Costa-Gavras film Z, about the military coup in Greece.

What became very evident as I got to know Linda was that she was actually working two job, her day job with me in film distribution at Cinema V Ltd. at 57th and Madison Ave. and her other job(s), which took up the rest of her time, networking with some of the greats in the film business to realize her own personal auteur's vision of the films she wanted to make in the tradition of the great filmmakers we were both raised watching.

That passion, talent, and a consummate ability to schmooze and network with the likes of Andy Warhol and Leonard Bernstein was vindicated in 1980 when the yet unknown Yellen was trust by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin to produce their film Hard Hat and Legs.

What has always impressed me about Linda is her drive and passion for life and films, and that she's not only grown as a filmmaker but stayed on the cutting edge both socially and politically.

Linda's film Chantilly Lace was conceived as a response to what Linda described in 1993 as a preponderance of "incomplete roles for women, who are sketched instead of developed" in the movie business. The film, which centered on the lives of seven girlfriends who vacation together at a cabin in the Colorado Rockies was a daring experimentation in improvisational cinema. In lieu of a screenplay, Linda worked from a 40 page outline, a decision that retained the actors on-screen chemistry and allowed rich, authentic characters to develop. It was a big Sundance hit.

In The Simian Line, released in 2001, Linda, now a seasoned director, assembled an impressive ensemble consisting of Lynn Redgrave, Cindy Crawford, William Hurt and Harry Connick Jr., for a story consisting of tangling affairs, jealousy, heartbreak and love. The film showcases complex characters who have depth and dimension, tackling the hardest question of them all: can love sustain itself?

Her prestigious body of work in television was groundbreaking - its provocative subject matter and employment of avant-garde techniques went against the pedestrian network conventions of the era. Among many award winning projects, she made Playing for Time, the Emmy Award-winning true story scripted by dramatist Arthur Miller about a group of Jewish female classical musicians spared the gas chamber in exchange for performing for their Nazi captors. Linda surmounted the objections of the network and, in the face of international protests and personal threats, she boldly cast the controversial pro-Palestinian English actor Vanessa Redgrave in the part of Fania Fenelon. She worked again with Redgrave on award winning Second Serve, an early sensitive treatment of transgender issues about real-life Richard Raskin, a male ophthalmologist who underwent sex reassignment surgery and became a professional female tennis player Renee Richards. Which brings me back to Fluidity.

Fluidity (trailer password: FLUIDITY_17) is a story of ten millennials living in New York City whose lives intersect in the age of social media - where likes, impressions and virtual "connections" threaten the very notion of personal relationships and human intimacy. It gives us an unflinching and eye-opening glimpse into a generation whose gender identity and sexual expression are no longer limited.

Fluidity exemplifies Linda's consummate gift - of being able to empathize with her characters and their situation, no matter how different they are from her own life.

Linda has always worked with stars (Diane Keaton, Jacqueline Bisset, John Belushi, Liza Minnelli, Dennis Hopper, Gena Rowlands, etc..) but for Fluidity, she made a point to use a young, diverse and fluid cast of actors that are on the cusp of being discovered - to maintain a level of authenticity Linda believes Fluidity needs.

Linda tells me that no distributor has seen the movie. Having just completed the film, the focus is putting together a team of passionate people in the industry who will maximize its potential. As we all know, often independent films of excellent quality are lost in the chaos when they don't have enough social media, advertising, or attention, Linda and her team are determined not to let that happen with this important and controversial film. This is a movie that speaks of Millennials and should be seen not just by the generation it portrays, but also those who interact with them in the world.

Over her career as producer, writer, and director Linda Yellen has made beautifully fashioned films driven by exquisitely crafted scripts that develop both story and characters into what in modern movies has become an all too rare movie going experience, which at least in a Yellen film allows the audience to forget they are in a theater watching a movie. But also I am astounded that a truly great filmmaker like Linda Yellen is still required to audition, when if she were a man with the same number and quality of films, she would already be famous.

See Playing for Time available on Netflix and The Last Film Festival available on Amazon Prime. But sadly too many gems like Prisoner Without a Name (Liv Ullman, Roy Scheider), Looking Up (Dick Shawn), Mayflower (Anthony Hopkins), etc, are not currently available.

Linda and the production can be contacted through their publicist Heather Delaney:

E: heather.delaney@galliumventures.com

M: +44 07446 07 3352

T: @DivertingLife

Or through FluidityFilm@gmail.com.

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