Tribeca 2023: Sav Rodgers’ ‘Chasing Chasing Amy’

June’s a busy time for a queer, and May is a busy time for a queer who is hopelessly unable to extricate herself from volunteering to organize Pride Month events, so I hadn’t planned my Tribeca watching in advance. I hadn’t perused the press releases or opened any of the many promotional emails, I was completely focused on other things until suddenly it was June 7th and I had committed to reviewing. Luckily it was easy to pick something based on very little information: a documentary by a queer filmmaker about Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy? Sold. 

Sav Rodgers came across an old VHS of Chasing Amy at 12 years of age. I was 19 when the movie was released in 1997. We both found it compelling, liberating even, to finally see sexual fluidity expressed on screen. While Joey Lauren Adams’ character Amy never calls herself bisexual, she gives a speech that resonates with all the bi/pan feelings. (Example line: “And to cut oneself off from finding that person, to immediately halve your options by eliminating the possibility of finding that one person within your own gender, that just seemed stupid to me.”) When I try to explain to monosexuals the struggles I had with my sexuality as an adolescent, I remind them that bisexual representation in mainstream media in the 80s and 90s consisted of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct and an assortment  of vampires. They were always predatory – Amy wasn’t. Amy was funny, and frustrating, and fully fleshed out. 

But loving Chasing Amy became a guilty pleasure very soon, for people like Sav and I. The queer community had a lot of critical things to say, many of them valid. The lens of the film is that of a cishet man; Kevin Smith’s self-insertion character, Holden (played by Ben Affleck) is the person who’s experiences and feelings are centered. And lesbians at the time really did not like the movie’s reinforcement of the idea that all lesbians just need to find the right man. 

Sav’s exploration of this conundrum is thoughtful, and very personal. The story of Chasing Chasing Amy is also about the Sav’s own love story, and own identity, as much as it is about a 1997 romcom. The documentary is littered with heartfelt, authentic moments of vulnerability from both Sav, and from Sav’s partner, Riley. I cried actual tears a few different times, and I really hope those two have a forever-after kind of love, even though I tend to be cynical about relationships that start in the teen years. 

The film also bravely explores Sav’s hero-worship of Kevin Smith. This exploration is helped immensely by Joey Lauren Adams. During her one-on-one interview with Sav, she grows resplendent with controlled rage as she talks about the movie industry machine, the media coverage of her romantic relationship with Smith, Harvey Weinstein, what society expects from starlets, and what Sav specifically expects from her. Joey Lauren Adams is like an avatar of feminist fury, and Sav was not prepared for her. It’s an incredibly uncomfortable scene, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. 

Chasing Amy hadn’t really been on my list of movies to re-watch, but now I think I might enjoy basking in its problematic brilliance, thanks to  Sav Rodgers.

Leave a Reply