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RUTHIE AND CONNIE: EVERY ROOM IN THE HOUSE

USA, 2002 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Deborah Dickson

Unlikely radicals, these two Jewish grandmothers relate how a longstanding friendship as wives and mothers turned into a passionate, long-lasting love affair. Singularly unselfconscious on camera, Ruthie and Connie shine for their honesty and courage to do what feels right in the face of suburban humbug. Observational scenes from their domestic life reveal a touching ordinariness in their preoccupations and candid exchanges, while remonstrations with family and friends belie the determination of these two staunch lesbians.

Their reflections on coming out and the pain of failing family expectations are intercut with scenes of the various roles they now play in New York's gay and lesbian community. A student guidance counsellor for the New York City Education Board, Ruthie took a stand for lesbian civil rights, suing for the same health cover and dental care entitlements for her partner, Connie, as are accorded married couples. Facing down the scorn of coiffured, middle-class womanhood on the Donahue Show that dealt with the case, the measure of the pair is reflected in Ruthie's defiant assertion, "the laws are against me, I will not keep quiet".

Deborah Dickson is an independent filmmaker who has been making award-winning documentaries since 1988. Her credits include Francis Steloff: Memoirs of a Bookseller (1988), Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse (1997) and Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton, which won top honours at Sundance 2001.

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