Directed by: Desiree Akhavan
Written by: Desiree Akhavan, Cecilia Frugiuele
Based on: Novel of same title by Emily L. Danforth
Produced by: Desiree Akhavan, Olivier Kaempfer
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck.
Absolutely brilliant. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a brave film that explores the daunting gay conversion therapy centres in the 1990s. Featuring Chloe Grace Moretz as Cameron, the story takes off after Cameron is caught making out with another girl in a car after prom ball.
The screenplay uses words as powerful tools to turn around concepts on gender. The struggle was real as I watched a naive teenager point of view get distorted to fit into what’s ‘acceptable’ according to Christian belief. Being aware of the existence of such places, did not deterred me from watching. But, as a member of the LGBTQAI+ community, I’d lie if I said that I didn’t cringed along the way. That said, it was worth it.
Throughout the story, my blood boiled until I realised that the true purpose of this film (and the novel before it) is to make known the crude facts and to give a voice to those who are (still) silenced. Did you know that more than 20,000 LGBT teenagers in US risk subjection to ‘gay conversion therapy’? And that’s just in the US.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a film about choices or rather about the lack of them. Orphan and living with her evangelical aunt, Cameron is confined to The Disciples of God’s Promise. A one-approach-cures-all centre to ‘recover from her gender confusion’.
The storyline descends into chaos and darkness, pushing some of the so-called ‘disciples’ to lose control. It’s on that breaking point that Cameron learns to empower herself as she gets closer to misfits Jane (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck). A journey from within that we all must go through to choose our identity on own terms. Did they escape the centre, do you ask? You’d have to watch it to find out.
Filmmaker Desiree Akhavan was working on a book in 2011 when a publisher sent her a pre-publication copy of Emily M. Danforth’s young adult novel “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”
Akhavan and Fruguiele had already been working on a screenplay together and decided to partner on the adaptation. Before they could begin, however, they needed to determine their point of entry to the story. Extensive research helped them flesh out the particulars of the film’s primary setting, a Christian gay conversion therapy center. God’s Promise is the brainchild of Dr. Lydia Marsh, who established the residential therapy center after ‘curing’ her brother Reverend Rick and restoring him to ‘healthy heterosexuality’.
The film was still in production when the 2016 presidential election took place. The following day, the shell-shocked cast and crew returned to work, knowing the film had acquired an unwelcome new relevance. Akhavan spoke her feelings to the group. “I told them, ‘I’d rather spend this day with you. I’d rather spend this day making a film that’s a response to this climate. Yes, it’s horrible and we’re making something. I’d always rather be making something.”
The Miseducation of Cameron Post won the 2018 U.S. Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. An unexpected film filled with the bittersweet beauty of gender fluid teenagehood that has a very special place in my heart.
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