Original documentary short (22 min)
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Producer/Writer: Austin Bunn | Cinematographer/Editor: Bob Hazen
Screenings: Outfest 2013 (LA), Provincetown International Film Festival, InsideOut (Toronto), Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Festival Favorite), Oneota (IA) Film Festival (Best of the Festival), CineSlam (VT), Pride of the Ocean.
In 1973, a motley group of young writers, artists, political activists, and recent college graduates purchased over 80 acres of land outside West Danby, New York to build, with their own hands, a two story home that became Lavender Hill — one of the few gay and lesbian communes in the Back to the Land movement.
In a time when over a dozen “straight” communes thrived in Tompkins County outside Ithaca, Lavender Hill, which expanded to include several homes across the property, was a remarkable experiment in collaboration, gender exploration, and social and political integration between young gay and lesbians in the post-Stonewall era.
Lavender Hill reveals the rich and complex history of this experiment in intentional living, from its theoretical beginnings in the Gay Liberation Front to its twilight during the AIDS crisis. The documentary features the voices of the former commune members and gay and lesbian activists and historians, along with rare archival 8mm film of the commune during its heyday. Funded, in part, by the Cornell Council for the Arts.
“LAVENDER HILL…took a conventional situation — a bunch of mature adults looking back on their adventurous youth — and turned it into something novel and moving. Though the subjects themselves, a group of gay men and women who formed a commune during the hippie era, were unusual, Austin Bunn never depicted them as freaks. Instead, he makes viewers relate to them as people who could be our parents or their friends. Of course, having a great story and telling one are not always twinned. Yet Bunn has achieved both by lucidly cutting among this varied bunch over the span of decades. He interweaves new footage and archival material with mastery and makes his audience appreciate all the characters as distinct individuals. Achieving this without making a viewer’s head spin is no small feat, and one of the most impressive things about this film is how cogently the story emerges despite the obstacles. In addition, the film has an appealing elegiac quality that will likely move even viewers who would not ostensibly care about people like this. Bunn does this without ever descending into the maudlin, and that, too, should be much applauded.”
David Mermelstein, a writer and critic for the Wall Street Journal
Lavender Hill Review
Pedro Gomez, Voice of the People LA
“Lavender Hill-A Love Story takes place in West Danby, NY. During the late 60’s and early 70’s many people decided to follow the late Timothy Leary’s advice “Turn on, Tune In, and Dropout” from the mainstream. The commune movement became an alternative to the humdrum of middle class living.
Lavender Hill became a commune of young gay and lesbian activists. The film which consists of 8mm film shot in 1974 and interviews with these folks today, gives a thorough examination how these folks became a family and were there for each other. Lavender Hill allowed these folks to shed what ever inhibitions they may have had and be themselves with everyone. Austin Bunn has done a fabulous job bringing this story to the screen. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, however you won’t be disappointed.
“Lavender Hill-A Love Story” is a must see. Don’t miss it when it comes to your town.
It’s all about love.”
a Traveling Fellows Production, (c) 2013