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'Chasing Chasing Amy' explores the complications of a film's legacy & self-discovery

"Chasing Chasing Amy" director Sav Rodgers (center) with Kevin Smith (right) and Joey Lauren Adams.
Image courtesy of "Chasing Chasing Amy"
"Chasing Chasing Amy" director Sav Rodgers (center) with Kevin Smith (right) and Joey Lauren Adams.

When 12-year-old Sav Rodgers saw the 1997 Kevin Smith film Chasing Amy for the first time, his life was forever changed. He developed not just a soft spot for the film, but a slight obsession as he rewatched it constantly to help him get through the challenges of life as a queer kid living in Kansas.

For Rodgers, Chasing Amy was appealing because of its humor, romanticism, nerd culture elements, and most notably it was his first exposure to queer representation. However, there’s also a thorny legacy to Chasing Amy — a film about a straight man who falls in love with a lesbian — especially for the LGBTQ community. Rodgers explores many sides of this legacy and how it connects to his personal story in the documentary, Chasing Chasing Amy.

The documentary provides a new outlook on this complicated classic indie — both for Rodgers and the cast and crew involved in making the original film. This documentary has been in the making for a long time for Rodgers. While he was obsessed with Chasing Amy from a young age, he actually had the idea for this documentary since 2015. It's first building blocks were even the subject of Rodgers' 2018 TED Talk, "The rom-com that saved my life," which was a product of his TED Residency at the time.

"I got three months to just develop the project and the process, and to really hone my personal story. Because I had never really talked about any of that publicly before and I was really nervous to. But the support and the mentorship I received at TED I will be forever grateful for," says Rodgers.

This vulnerability of bringing his own voice and personal story into the film would be pushed further once the documentary started taking shape. "I wanted to tell the story, not be the story," notes Rodgers. "... People thought organically that I should include my personal story about Chasing Amy in the film, but I was interested in like an almost anthropological lens of like what does Chasing Amy mean to LGBTQ people? And what does that dissonance say about us? How can this thing that saved my life be so controversial among other people in my community?"

Chasing Chasing Amy

Rodgers eventually, but reluctantly, agreed to be the subject in his documentary in a unique take on a coming-of-age story. "The film was going to be about my life, which was not something I was emotionally prepared for. It felt vulnerable, it felt uncomfortable, and I also come out as trans in the movie," he notes.

Rodgers credits his team for helping him feel comfortable, supported, and guided through the process of Chasing Chasing Amy — especially since the film tackles and leans into the grey areas of dissecting an older film with viewpoints contrary to his own growing up.

"I think this is kind of the perfect film in 2024 that would be correct for dissection in this current moment where we're trying to assess what does it mean for a film to not 'age well?' And is that a useful conversation? Is that an interesting conversation?," he notes.

"But we are in this era of media reassessment, reboots, sequels ... and that's the context in which Chasing Chasing Amy is being released into," Rodgers adds.

You can see the last screening of "Chasing Chasing Amy" in the Milwaukee Film Festival Thursday, April 25 at 2 p.m. at the Oriental Theatre. Milwaukee Film is a financial contributor to WUWM.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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