Tuesday, October 9th at the Gulkenian brings us Desiree Akhavan’s adaptation of Emily M. Danforth’s novel ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’. The film delves into the life of a high school girl in the 1990’s who is forced into a conversion therapy centre that treats teens “struggling with same-sex attraction.” With the familiar face of Chloe Grace Moretz (playing Cameron Post), this film explores discipline and religion, while finding an unbelievable community for the first time.
The film begins as Cameron Post is outed as a lesbian after being caught with another girl on her prom night. She later finds herself in a Christian teen camp that aims to ‘cure’ teenagers from their sexuality. In aiding the ‘cure’ of SSA (same sex attraction) these teens follow routines such as talking therapy, workout videos, love Gahd and cutting off access to the outside world. Cameron quickly falls into the group of ‘bad kids’ who learned how the cheat the system and councillors well while sneaking off to smoke weed.
Director Desiree Akhavan drew from her time in rehab where she was given strict programs for eating due to her bulimia. She mentioned that there was always a question as to whether this was just her personality, that overeating was merely a part of her, just like her sexuality. “We all wanted to be better, but what if we wanted to be better from something we could never get better from?”
While the adaptions shows some teens who are outraged by the thought of being considered to be wrong or ‘evil’, it also reveals the self-questioning and hard work most people go through to ‘be saved’. Many people going through this ‘therapy’ want it to work, and they follow each exercise in the hopes that they will be ‘cured’ as this is what they’ve been told is right.
Although Akhavan wasn’t ready to make a film about eating disorders, she had her own experiences with humiliation for being bisexual. After falling in love with another woman, she came out to her parent’s who were deeply ashamed. She expressed how hard it was for her: “It’s just a really, really horrifying, shameful, awful thing to say. It took all the guts in the world to say it. And also, coming out as bisexual. I mean, everyone was heartbroken, and really worried. My family was like: ‘Well, if you could choose, why would you choose something that makes everyone so unhappy and that makes your life worse?’ And I understood their point.”
She also shows throughout the film the effects of institutional Christianity and the beliefs that no one can have instincts or feelings outside of religion or change the way we were made by a specific God.
The aim of the camp is to ‘save’ the teens from evil and persuade them to conform to society, yet it becomes the first community of like-minded people that Cameron has found.
A powerful film that takes a unique look at what it means to be gay – going down to critical acclaim at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” will air at the Gulbenkian on the 9th of October at 19.00 as part of World Mental Health Day, followed by a panel discussion.