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Go Fish

About the Film
Year Released: 
Running Time: 

No fishing expedition, this first feature is an insider view of lesbian life in the nineties by a writer and filmmaker team who are as a good at angst as they are at irony. Go Fish has already been dubbed a “dyke slacker” pic for its low-budget, black-and-white chronicling of daily hopes, fears, and banalities. At once gritty and lyrical, it tracks an interlinked cast of characters (most of them played by nonprofessionals) through a fanciful girl-meets-girl saga.

Max is looking for love. Her roommate, Kia, already has it in the person of Evy, who lives at home with her mom, still trying to shake off her ex-husband. Then there’s Ely, Kia’s student and seemingly available. Ely shares a place with Daria, the quintessential dyke about town, constantly in and out of women’s beds and hearts. Kia thinks Max would like Ely: Daria thinks Ely should like Max. Everyone schemes. We’re treated to a date, a dinner party, pride, honor, friendship, laundry, nail clipping – and, of course, sex.

There’s an innocence about the characters that’s usually missing in Lesbian Chic coverage: these women look more like the twenty-something figures in underground video or Alison Bechdel’s cult comic, “Dykes to Watch Out For.” Go Fish begins just about where coming-out film used to end: all the women are dykes, and sex is on everybody’s mind. Since it’s the lesbian universe, so is romance. Seriocomic and navigated by a wistful narrator, an unlikely chorus of elders, and an assured cinematic ability to confer grace upon lesbian-identity escapades, Go Fish is the film to watch out for.

(B. Ruby Rich, 1994 Sundance Film Festival -

Poster Image: 
Film Director: 
Production Info
Reported or Estimated Budget: 
Buck Town, Lincoln Square; Wicker Park, West Town, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Other Interesting Production Info: 
After all the credits, appearing as subliminal film scratches: “MEN SUCK.” Additional scenes are shown during the first part of the closing credits (IMDB). Rose Troche and Guinevere Turner were partners at the time (GLBTQ).
Categories About the Film
period drama
interracial relations
urban life
Racial/Ethnic Affiliation: 
Filmmaking Team
Writer's Name: 
Rose Troche, Guinevere Turner
Rose Troche, Guinevere Turner
Ann T. Rosetti, Art Stone
Primary Cast: 
V. S. Brodie, Guinevere Turner, T. Wendy McMillan, Migdalia Melendez
Exhibition/Distribution Info
Samuel Goldwyn Company
Box Office Earnings: 
Where to find it/How to get it: 
DVD widely available
  • Berlin International Film Festival* (Rose Troche won the Teddy Bear Award for Best Feature Film, 1994)
  • Deauville Film Festival (Rose Troche won the Audience Award and was nominated for the Critics Award, 1994)
  • Gotham Awards (Rose Troche won the Open Palm Award, 1994)
  • Sundance Film Festival (US Premiere; Rose Troche nominated for Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic, 1994)
  • GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film (1995)
  • Independent Spirit Awards (V.S. Brodie nominated for Best Supporting Female, 1995)
  • Political Film Society, USA (nominated for PFS Award in Human Rights, 1995)
  • Lambda Literary Award, Drama (1996)
  • Paris Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (2004)
  • Outfest Film Festival (USA, 2011)
Personal Film Review and Cultural Context: 

Rose Troche’s Go Fish (1994) goes where no other feature debuts has gone before in capturing unapologetic lesbian culture on film.  But despite their visibility in this romantic comedy, meta-commentary by its queer characters reveals the Puerto Rican filmmaker’s awareness of the lack of lesbian representation on screen.  Through 16mm black-and-white film, Troche teeters between a whimsical and comical love story on one hand and the politics of representation on the other.  Her use of a local cast speaks to an attempt to showcase the colloquial, even in a painfully early 90s art-house pre-hipster kind of way that makes it hard to believe Go Fish paved the way for more mainstream lesbian drama such as The L Word – which Troche also directed and wrote for three seasons.  Nonetheless, the novelty of this independent lesbian classic spearheaded the onset of an emergent “New Queer Cinema” at the time of its production.  Though the plot centers on the matchmaking of an unlikely couple, Max and Ely, it also addresses the many qualms of queer life lyrically sub-narrated by a black lesbian professor, Kia.  From butch to femme, young to old, crunchy to suave, Go Fish spans the spectrum of races and sexualities to find love. 

(Jacinda Tran, 2012)