Director Lizzie Gottlieb talks about her film Romeo Romeo

Director Lizzie Gottlieb talks about her film Romeo Romeo

What drew you to Lexy and Jessica's story?
I was drawn to Lexy and Jessica as subjects because they are such wonderful people - as individuals and as a couple. They are funny and fun and open and passionate - not to mention incredibly gorgeous. Lexy wears her heart on her sleeve. As you see in the film, she's a talented singer. As a performer and in life, she has a heartbreaking fragility. At the same time, over the course of the film, she reveals an incredible inner strength and bravery. Jessica comes across as much tougher - she even describes herself as mean. And that side of her is certainly there in the film. But as we spend time with her and get to know her better, we see that she is determined, loyal, fearless, and enormously loving. I find their relationship, especially in the face of all this hardship, compelling and inspiring.   

What do you think Romeo Romeo can teach us about the struggles of a modern family?
The desire to have a baby is such a basic human desire. Lexy and Jessica have a yearning, a longing, a need to become parents, to hold their own baby in their arms. Watching two people confront the fact that the thing they most long for might not be possible for them is heartbreaking. And watching them struggle through a lot of hardship is inspiring. 

What is it you'd like viewers to take from your film, to do after seeing your film?
There are several things I hope viewers will take away from this film. I wanted to show what the process of medically assisted reproduction is like. We get very up-close with the medical procedures here - even watching the eggs removed from Lexy get counted out into petri dishes before being fertilized. I think there is a bit of a veil over what these processes are like and I wanted to show as much as we could of what actually goes on. But more importantly, for me is the emotional side of all this. There are so many technologies now available to help people make babies - whether it is because they are struggling with infertility or because they are two women, or two men - but I think what people don’t talk about as much is what that experience is like emotionally for the people going through it. So my hope with this film was to portray the physical and emotional experience of the woman undergoing treatments, as well as the logistical, financial, medical and emotional repercussions that can have on a couple. I wanted to show the kind of tension and anxiety and longing and maybe closeness that these journeys can evoke.   

What do you think is the role of the documentary filmmaker?
I tend to make very personal films, by which I don’t mean they’re about me, but they’re about things I care about very, very deeply. I like to follow people, who I really care about and admire, and to get very close in, and tell intimate, emotional stories that speak to a larger issue. To try to bring forward close and intimate stories to a larger audience, to try to understand a larger issue. In the case of Romeo Romeo, that issue is infertility, and partly gay marriage. In my previous film, Today's Man, the issue of Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. So I guess, I would say, trying to publicize a larger issue by telling intimate stories.   

Are there particular themes in storytelling that you are drawn to?
I look for stories that I connect to very emotionally. I am drawn to stories of people who I like and respect. I also like to tell stories that develop over a long period of time. This makes for some very slow documentary filmmaking, but I believe it makes for richer, fuller stories. I have been extremely lucky to be able to do this on these last two projects - six years for Today's Man, three for Romeo Romeo. When you have the luxury of time, people and situations can really evolve and that's when things get really interesting.