Anne Wheeler

Director, Producer
Alberta CA

Director, producer. English Canada’s most prominent woman feature filmmaker, the Albertan director was trained in feminist prairie documentary. Most accomplished in the portrayal of women’s friendship, unforgettably in Loyalties(1986), Wheeler is also skilled in developing narratives of male homosociality, as in the underrated teenage rodeo melodrama Cowboys Don’t Cry(1988). Along the way she also excelled at short fiction, often queer-auraed if not explicitly queer-themed, like her Sinclair Ross adaptation One’s a Heifer (1984, see R of T, Chapter 5). But this long-married heterosexual mother belongs most in this list as honorary lesbian for Better Than Chocolate (Vancouver, 1998, 98), the celebrated baby dyke comedy romance. Chocolate is in some ways a contender for the title of the Canadian Desert Hearts, a breakthrough romantic comedy that filled the void in mainstream lesbian representation and became an instant classic. Perhaps it’s a measure as much of the director’s track record in sketching women’s social worlds as of her sexual orientation, that she’s able to fill in so deftly all the sexually diverse narrative borders around her core relationship story, from the heterosexual middle-aged mother’s discovery of pleasure to the bookstore subplot inspired by the Little Sister’s bookstore’s never-ending battle, to the teenage hetero brother who discovers butt plugs. Supported by an accomplished cast, including Peter Outerbridge’s fine torchy performance as transsexual, Chocolate simply all comes together as a politically correct feelgood love story with a strong sense of time and place–ours!