Sour Peach Films, a Brooklyn-based film company focusing on stories of female sexuality, was born out of frustration. Co-founders Erica Rose and Chelsea Moore were "frustrated, angry, and undernourished" by the opportunities they were getting as queer women in film. And films that were being made about queer women just weren't reflective of the diversity they knew and loved in New York's vibrant LGBTQ community.
"Our goal is to further queer stories and conversations about what is actually happening in our community because so many of the stories are really about a taboo relationship or coming out," Rose tells Moore and I over drinks and oysters in Greenpoint. "I don’t want to discredit those stories ever because those are valid, but in our day-to-day lives, we’re living as queer people in New York City today. So what are our complexities? What are our issues? What are our relationships with others like? What is our sex like?"
From left: Erica Rose and Chelsea Moore attend aGLIFF LGBTQ film festival in Austin, TX.
Those questions prompted Rose, a writer and director, and Moore, a producer, to co-found Sour Peach Films in the summer of 2017. Back in 2015, Rose shared an early script for GIRL TALK, their latest film, with Moore after they met on set for a CBS pilot. The rest was history.
"We'd realized that we had similar interests and goals as filmmakers, and we were like, 'Why don’t we just partner officially?'" Rose recalls.
Almost three years later, GIRL TALK, a dramatic narrative short, is now completed and screening at film festivals around the world. The film was a true labor of love for everybody involved, including Rose and Moore, who have separate day jobs: Two-thirds of its budget was crowdfunded with the help of Seed&Spark, and everyone who worked on the project—a diverse cast and crew of almost entirely women and gender non-conforming people—shared their passion for the story.
GIRL TALK follows Mia (Hannah Hodson), a black queer femme in her 20s who navigates the complexities of physical and emotional intimacy in New York's LGBTQ scene. Rose describes it as "semi-autobiographical"; the general storyline and snippets of dialogue are based off of real-life events and conversations she's experienced as a queer woman living in New York.
Above: Hodson stars as Mia.
The film also features exactly zero cisgender men, even in group shots, a "very intentional" writing and directing choice that makes Rose and Moore grin ear-to-ear. "I actually realized they just don’t have a place in this story," Rose says. "Because it’s about the queer femme world, and that doesn’t involve cis men. So I was like, 'Why create a character just to have one?'"
GIRL TALK has been well-received across the board, says Moore, even garnering the pair a spot at the prestigious Iris Prize LGBT Film Festival in Wales, but it's also sparked some confusion. "There’s not a strong resolve in the end. It’s not packaged," Moore says. "I think the film could be described as confusing, or vague, or ambiguous in certain ways. And I think that’s a good thing. Because it is reflective of what it’s like to go out to these parties or to go home with someone [as a queer woman.]"
It's also created an unexpected dilemma for Rose and Moore: Most of the festivals that have screened GIRL TALK haven't quite known where to place the film. It's screened in film blocks about everything from polyamory to queer horror. (The film doesn't make a statement about polyamory, Moore notes, and it's definitely not a horror flick.)
"It is interesting to see [how] we’re being defined," Moore says. "Like, ‘Where do we put GIRL TALK?’"
From left: Erica Pappas appears as Elle alongside Mia (Hodson).
While some aspects of the film could be confusing, a few important elements are crystal clear. Verbal consent was a big one for Moore and Rose, who ensured that the sex scenes in GIRL TALK made it obvious that every party present wanted to be there. And the "sexual frankness" of the characters' dialogue—one memorable scene at a queer party includes a joke about "the Bethesda Fountain of pussies"—rings true to life, lending the film a sense of authenticity.
"I feel like a lot of people who aren’t really immersed in our community have questioned, ‘Oh, who talks like this?’" Rose says. "And I’m like, ‘Actually, this is how we are.’ A lot of women will talk about how wet their pussy is—I’ll talk about that a lot! That’s just the way it is."
It's all part of Rose and Moore's mission to center female sexuality from a queer femme perspective. Rose says it best: "For all of our projects, we're committed to a diverse range of representation. Because at the end of the day, queer sex between two women is just as exciting, complicated, nerve-wracking, boring, or emotional as sex with anyone."
Watch an exclusive clip from GIRL TALK below. New Yorkers can catch the film at Newfest LGBT Film Festival, where it's slated to screen on Thursday, October 25 and Saturday, October 27.