Documentary on growing up lesbian airs this month

The Independent Television Service (ITVS) presents Hide and Seek, a provocative and entertaining film about lesbian childhood that weaves archival science and sex education films with true tales of growing up lesbian and a girl-centered narrative set in the 1960's. Directed and edited by Su Friedrich, and produced by Eva Kolodner and Katie Roumel, Hide and Seek was produced for ITVS with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

There is no such thing as a typical childhood, let alone a typical lesbian childhood, but when women share stories about their earliest lesbian memories there are some striking similarities. Hide and Seek explores what it is like to grow up in a world in which you think everyone else is straight and everyone assumes you are.

"When I was a girl, my friends and I were at the center of a universe that was as tangible and urgent to us as it was invisible to the boys and the adults .... a world filled with adventure, power, romance, and other unnameable feelings .... It was an imaginary universe of young lesbians," said Su Friedrich.

Drawing on numerous coming-of-age stories, Friedrich and co-writer Cathy Quinlan have created an intriguing, original narrative about the often conflicting signals of pre-adolescence in 1960's.

America, where pop culture loomed large and icons like Davy Jones of The Monkees put stars in the eyes of a generation of girls. Hide and Seek punctuates the narrative storyline with choice bits of 1950's and 60's scientific and educational films advising viewers about the stages of (and the dangers confronting) the "proper" development of childhood sexuality. These scenes are ingeniously interwoven with first-person remembrances from a host of lesbians whose girlhood memories prove the scientific theories superficial when measured against the complexity of individual lives and real experience.

Camp, pop culture, and the often humorous interviews illustrate the dilemma facing the fictional Lou, and her friends Betsy, Maureen, Denise, and Lizzie -- a close-knit group that begins to unravel with the confusion of narrowing roles and expectations. Suddenly it's not acceptable to be a "tomboy," and the distinction between "girlfriends" and "friends who are girls" seems to be a necessary one. Hide and Seek creates an insightful portrait of this time, when a young girl is often divided between what she knows and feels, when girlhood wants and desires, once carefree, quickly become suspect, and when feelings for other girls mark one as "different."

All in all, Friedrich's film is more about being a lesbian than about the cause, and how lesbian girlhood experiences differ -- or don't -- from those of straight girls. Hide and Seek takes an affectionate, humorous, and very real look at the state of the imagination at an age when sexual feelings are still vague but gender expectations are clear.

The Independent Television Service is a unique creation in American broadcasting, created to increase the diversity of programming available to public television audiences, to bring vision to a medium often dominated by convention, commercialism, and formula. ITVS supports and promotes programming that will expand and energize public television and beyond.

Established by Congress "to encourage the development of programming that involves creative risks and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, particularly children and minorities," ITVS has more than 110 single programs and 17 limited series in production or distribution on domestic public television, foreign television, and domestic cable markets.

ITVS series include The Question Of Equality, Positive: Life With HIV and The United States of Poetry. Single programs include Coming Out Under Fire, Jane: An Abortion Service, and A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde. For more information, visit the ITVS web site at http://www.itvs.org.

The program, a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS), will air on the following stations at the following times:

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