Film

Molly Shannon Channels ‘Emily’

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Molly Shannon (“Saturday Night Live”) stars as Emily Dickinson in the film “Wild Nights With Emily,” directed by her longtime friend Madeleine Olnek (“Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same”). 

The film will screen next Friday, Sept. 7, at the Art Theatre in Long Beach as part of the QFilms festival, following a screening earlier this summer at Outfest. Watch Goweho’s coverage of the Outfest Q&A in which Shannon and the director, joined onstage by cast members Jackie Monahan and Susan Ziegler (both also appeared in Olnek’s “Codependent”), and moderator Kim Yutani, discuss how the film departs from long-held impressions of Dickinson as a reclusive spinster.

Recent historical research was the inspiration for the film, said Olnek, revealing that Dickinson was more likely an independent, passionate lesbian, who cleverly expressed her true self through her writings, which were altered after her death.  

Using infrared techniques, words that had been erased from Dickinson’s letters, such as the name “Susan,” became legible in her works and correspondence. Shannon says Dickinson’s writings make more sense now, meshing with a more upbeat, social person than the dark, tragic figure that history has portrayed. 

In “Wild Nights With Emily”—and in real life—Dickinson’s sister-in-law Susan marries her brother, which is seen as a strategic move that keeps the women close physically and emotionally. Their relationship in the film is portrayed with glee, humor, and with an insight of how Dickinson expressed her independence, passion and strength through her art, that the times wouldn’t otherwise allow.

Click the video to hear Shannon and Olnek discuss the film. For info on the QFilms screening click here

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and is currently producing a documentary for her own company, Saving Grace Films.

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