Aerlyn Weissman

Documentarist, Soundperson, Teacher

Documentarist, soundperson, teacher. Best known as the co-director with Lynne Fernie of the breakthrough NFB hit of the early nineties Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives (see R of T, Chapter 6), Weissman was bred in Chicago and trained in sound recording in the US documentary milieu before coming to Canada in 1970. One of her earlier experiences was recording sound for Janis Cole and Holly Dale’s P4W: Prison for Women (1981), an activity repeated for the team’s next film Hookers on Davie (1984). After the success of Forbidden Love, Weissman went on to further collaboration with Fernie, namely documentary work on lesbian writer Jane Rule, including the Genie-winning Fiction and Other Truths: A Film About Jane Rule (1995), and her own project on women surviving violence Without Fear (1993). With almost thirty sound credits at the NFB over two decades starting in 1975, Weissman was also one of the filmmakers’ collective who signed the pioneering feminist feature A Winter Tan in 1989, the controversial semi-fictional account of a washed up (shamelessly heterosexual) writer’s sex odyssey to Mexico. Weissman’s indie documentary Little Sister’s vs Big Brother (47), a stirring and comprehensive epic of the bookstore’s struggles against state censorship, premiered in 2002. Included in the NFB’s 2003 queer pedagogical package, this film’s heroic portraits of the bookstore’s activist triumvirate Janine Fuller, Jim Deva, Bruce Smyth (and writer/employee Mark Macdonald), are already enshrined in the Canadian queer pantheon. Since 2001 Weissman has also directed for the TV documentary series Kink, as well as making WebCam Girls (2004, 52).