Director Jenna Laurenzo’s hilarious and honest directorial debut LEZ BOMB blew the jury away at BFF 2018, taking home Best Narrative Feature in the festival’s 4th year. LEZ BOMB follows a young woman who travels home for Thanksgiving with the intention of coming out to her family, but finds that the eccentric cast of characters that make up her extended family have their own stirring surprises.
Bentonville Film Festival’s President of Programming Wendy Guerrero sat down with Jenna about her experience at BFF and what she and her film been up to since the festival.
What inspired your decision to submit LEZ BOMB to BFF 2018?
I had many conversations with mentors about where to premiere Lez Bomb. Three in-a-row said “Bentonville.” I saw it as a sign! We felt Bentonville would be the perfect place to premiere the film and have an impactful Q&A with an engaged audience. Dropping the Lez Bomb in Arkansas went against expectations, which we were eager to do. The film was warmly received at the festival, with an enthusiastic audience who eagerly stuck around for questions. The message of the festival speaks to both the team and myself – “promoting underrepresented voices.” I wanted a comedic, holiday, family film, with an LGBTQ narrative playing through the family dysfunction. For years I’ve been looking for a funny, lesbian, holiday, comedy. I could not find one, so I, along with an incredible team, made one. There was a wide-open gap for such a comedy, and in terms of a need for greater representation, there’s a demographic hungry for such content. I could not imagine a better festival to support the entire Lez Bomb team in our effort to bring this film to an audience.
Do you have a new project in the works? If so, can you share something about it?
Yes! I have a few! One of the films I’m currently working on is a feature with Jesse Einstein who I met at the Bentonville Film Festival this past year. We actually took a picture in the Photo Booth shaking hands, promising each other we’d find something to work on together. And four months later, we just wrapped on our short film we’re using to raise the financing for a feature we’re in development on. We will be premiering the short at festivals this spring, and hopefully making the feature soon after.
As a filmmaker, describe your BFF experience. Why would you encourage others to submit to BFF 2019?
My experience at the Bentonville Film Festival was fantastic. I don’t know where to begin – the inspiring filmmakers I met along the way, the incredible food I indulged in in the town of Bentonville, drinking with Geena Davis at a speakeasy and telling her A League of Their Own was THE film that made me want to make movies? From the filmmaker’s lounge to the award’s ceremony, I thought the festival was thoughtful in taking care of filmmakers and appreciating the work everyone worked so hard to bring to fruition. I enjoyed so many films screened at the festival, and made many meaningful connections. I would definitely encourage others to submit to BFF 2019.
When it comes to LGBTQ representation in front of and behind the camera, what advice would you give to others inspired to make films like LEZ BOMB?
Personally, I wanted a lesbian holiday film – I craved this particular story, so I had to go out and make it with faith that if I was hungry for such content, there had to be others who also wanted a lesbian holiday comedy, with a happy ending.
Sometimes it’s difficult to lean into that which makes your voice most authentic, but that’s where we find those gems we can offer the world. There are moments in LEZ BOMB that made me most uncomfortable to write, shoot, say, and keep in the final edit. Yet, those were the moments that initially attracted cast, and those are the moments that resonate most with audiences. My advice would be to tell stories that are close to the heart with the authentic set of lens you, and only you see the world through.
How will the upcoming distribution of LEZ BOMB impact the success and reach of your film?
I could not be more grateful Gravitas Ventures has embraced Lez Bomb and wants to bring it to a wide audience. The film releases in Theaters & On Demand November 9th. We’ve had so much support along the way, and the distribution support was kicked off when we won the best narrative jury award at Bentonville. AMC has been incredibly supportive with the release of the film, along with the Geena Davis Institute. In terms of bringing a film to wider audiences, it takes the support of so many, and the entire LEZ BOMB team could not be more grateful.
It takes a huge effort, largely word of mouth, and we would love if you could take the time to share our trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYQtf9hgFXc
Stay tuned for some exciting announcements about LEZ BOMB coming soon!