Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Director Matt Cimber on his existential women's lib masterpiece THE GEMINI AFFAIR (1973)

Director Matt Cimber talks with TV STORE ONLINE about the shooting of his existential women's liberation masterpiece THE GEMINI AFFAIR (1973) starring Marta Kristen and Kathy Kersh.

The Gemini Affair (1973), Matt Cimber exploitation
TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm huge a fan of your film THE GEMINI AFFAIR (1973)....

CIMBER:  Well, you know--it was very strange. After I made the film I would travel to Europe and every time I'd go there I'd notice GEMINI AFFAIR playing at some type of film festival.  There was a small theater in the East Village in New York City that ran the film for six years.  They rented a film print of the film for six years!  I think the film was a little bit ahead of its time, and a lot of people weren't ready for it when I put it out.

TV STORE ONLINE: That's one of the things that attracted me to it.  You shot the film in '72 or '73 which would have been smack in the middle of the Women's Liberation Movement.  They must have had a field day with it...

CIMBER:  Oh yeah, they did. But, you know, the thing about that picture--the two girls were so daring in it.  They were both extremely talented.  Anne Seymour, was always great--so that was no surprise.    The real surprise was in how wonderful Kathy Kersh was.  She had been married at one point to Vince Edwards, who had played "Ben Casey" on television.    It was a hard shoot.  We didn't have a lot of money.  We shot it all in two weeks.  The two girls rehearsed though, for about three weeks prior to the start of shooting.  And, of course, Marta Kristen (Lost In Space) was a hell of a good actress.

matt cimber director, kathy kersh nude
TV STORE ONLINE:  The script for GEMINI AFFAIR was written by a guy named "Harry Houdydu."  I have to assume that that's you writing under  a pen name?

CIMBER: I wrote the script with a co-producer.   We shot it up in a house in Beverly Hills.  I felt that I had the right elements to put the picture together.  I did most of the writing, and a lot of it--we wrote out of the girls working in rehearsals.     What we wrote was at times difficult for the girls to say because of the time in which we produced the picture.   But they also worked off of their instincts which, in turn, were attached to their emotions    Many people considered the picture to be an exploitation film at the time it was released--but I don't agree with that.

kathy kersh marta kristen gemini affair
TV STORE ONLINE:   Right, I don't see it as an exploitation picture either.    What was the inspiration behind the idea for the story?

CIMBER:   The idea was that a woman could be with a woman--not just a man.  Once you got into it--it was important to me that the audience understand that this wasn't a common occurrence--it just happened to these two women at that particular time.  That's how I tried to plan their relationship.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   I love films that play around in heavy aesthetics..There's a wonderful dreaminess to GEMINI AFFAIR...

CIMBER:  Right, they were living in their own bubble.   That was the idea.  I took a lot of flack because I kept Marta in the taxi at the beginning of the picture for so long.   I said, 'Yes, it's exposition, but the taxi driver is transporting her into another world.  You can't just throw her into that world."   I wanted to ease her into it.  

matt cimber's gemini affair, matt cimber
TV STORE ONLINE:  One thing I've always loved about your pictures is how you choose to use shadows.  There's a particular--almost, like, "California Dusk" that's present in GEMINI AFFAIR visually.... It's very painterly...

CIMBER:   Thank you.

TV STORE ONLINE:  An example...And not to spend too much time talking about the sex scene in the picture, but the big climax, the sex scene with the two women--visually, it's the most incredible thing in the picture itself.  It has a particular dusk quality, or this idea that it's grounded in moonlight bouncing off the walls of the house--it feels very out of time...

best lesbian sex scenes, marta kristen nude, matt cimber gemini affair
CIMBER:  Well, they say creative things come out of necessity.  I was deathly afraid of the picture getting an X rating, so I tried to sustain the mood while not pushing it too far.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love the sequence and how you chose to use music leading up to it...Then the music cuts and their moans become almost symphonic.   Plus, I love how you end the sequence as well with that extreme long shot from the other room, looking back in at them--showing the two nude women laying far apart from one another in the bed. 

CIMBER:   Yeah, it worked really well, didn't it.    My cinematographer on that was really good.

the gemini affair (1973), matt cimber
TV STORE ONLINE: Why hasn't the film ever come to DVD?

CIMBER:  No one has picked it up.  I gave a copy of the film to Quentin Tarantino, because he's pushed a lot of my product in the past.  I don't think the film was Quentin's cup of tea though. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'd bet a penny on the idea that not only was Bergman's PERSONA (1966) an influence on David Lynch for MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001), but also THE GEMINI AFFAIR.   GEMINI AFFAIR and MULHOLLAND DRIVE play around with some of the aesthetics and same ideas in their respective narratives, and a character shares the same name in both films as well.

CIMBER:  He refuses to acknowledge it.    He did tell me once that he was a big fan of my film BUTTERFLY (1980).   He formed a DVD company at one point, and he bought the rights from me to distribute BUTTERFLY.    I did, on one occasion, ask him about whether he had seen GEMINI AFFAIR and he denied it.    The only one who has acknowledged any of my films as being an influence is Quentin Tarantino.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung