Available on Disney+, Fire Island is a modern and festive queer romantic comedy that revisits the famous novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. AlloCiné spoke with the film team that smells like summer.
Available since June 3 on Disney+, Fire Island is the queer summer romantic comedy! This feature film takes place on this famous island of Fire Island, the famous destination which has historically marked and which welcomes the LGBTQIA + community, not far from Long Island (New York). With modernity and humour, Fire Island is inspired by the timeless themes of the novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.
We follow the holidays of the two best friends Noah and Howie, between well-watered parties and evenings in front of the sunset, within a close-knit group of friends. But this getaway will be turned upside down when the two best friends meet new people. AlloCiné was able to meet the director Andrew Ahnscreenwriter and actor Joel Kim Booster and the actors Bowen Yang and Margaret Cho to discuss this refreshing romantic comedy that smells like summer.
AlloCiné: Tell us about the genesis of this film. What were your main intentions?
Andrew Ahn: Joel Kim Booster who plays Noah, but is also the screenwriter, was inspired by his first experience at “Fire Island”, an island that is near New York, just below Long Island, and which attracts a lot of partying gays.
He went there with Bowen Yang who plays Howie in our film. Joel spent his time reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It reminded him of what he was living in this surreal place. The film is therefore a kind of very free adaptation of this novel. I took over as director just over a year ago. I love the queer love that is celebrated in this film, this joie de vivre and the notion of family. For me, it was important to make this film at a time when, finally, things are changing.
Joel Kim Booster: This film is about the notion of friendship and love within a group of friends. We also talk about the idea that we can choose the family that we really want to have. And of course, we also wanted to celebrate the gay joie de vivre that is within us and the LGBT community, but also to highlight all the nuances in our relationships.
Beyond the festive spirit that is at the heart of the film, what is this story really about? Can everyone relate to the themes of Fire Island?
Andrew Ahn: I think it’s a film about judging others. We always have a priori on the other. And whether you’re gay or straight, we’re all overly critical of others. I think you have to go beyond appearances and get to know the other as a human being, as a unique and authentic person. In this way we can avoid finding ourselves isolated and missing out on a relationship that can be beneficial to us. This is what is evoked in Jane Austen’s novel and this is what this film also inspires me.
Joel Kim Booster: Maybe straight people sometimes have a hard time identifying with other people who aren’t part of their community, but I think our movie is so fun and full of life that it makes it accessible to all. If I like The Lord of the Rings I’m sure that heterosexuals will be able to enjoy my film in turn, which only lasts an hour and forty-five minutes anyway.
Margaret Cho: The film also deals with the barriers that exist between different social classes. And how the notion of romance and love breaks down these barriers. I think anyone who suffers from isolation, because of their social class, will be able to identify with this film.
I think there’s still so much trauma within our gay community and it’s time to take a positive, illuminating look at who we really are. I want people who are gay to come out with more strength and conviction about who they are.
Did you encounter any difficulties in shooting this film with so many people on screen and all these festive moments?
Margaret Cho: We had two hurricanes that hit in the middle of filming! It was so intense that a few miles from filming some people found themselves swimming among the rats of New York. I’ve never been through such a climate crisis on set and it was pretty scary.
Andrew Ahn: So with all the rain that was falling, the “sunny” and party scenes that we had planned to film weren’t there. But we improvised in a good mood. Even though we had our feet in the water most of the time!
Bowen Yang: It’s true that the wind and the rain made things complicated. But we have learned to live together and to remain in solidarity with each other. A real bond was born during the shooting.
In the end, what do you hope audiences take away from this film?
Margaret Cho: I hope audiences will enjoy this great romantic comedy. For me it’s a film about falling in love and there’s nothing more beautiful in life than love.
Bowen Yang: I hope the audience felt like they spent their vacation with us on Fire Island!
Joel Kim Booster: This film is a celebration of my relationship with Bowen. I hope that people will remember that we must celebrate life together and without restraint. Also, I think there’s still so much trauma within our gay community and it’s time to take a positive, illuminating look at who we really are. I want people who are gay to come out with more strength and conviction about who they are.
Andrew Ahn: I hope this film will inspire audiences to go on vacation with their family and friends and celebrate the beauty of life to the fullest. We’ve spent too much time isolated from each other lately, and it’s time to get together and celebrate again!
If you had to choose an island paradise you would like to visit, what would it look like?
Bowen Yang: I would like to go to an island with real Pokémon. I’m crazy about Pokemon and wish they existed. If I could be a Pokemon I’d be Jigglypuff and easily get angry when people don’t like my acting performance.
Joel Kim Booster: Me too, I follow you Bowen! Besides, my favorite Pokémon are the Eevee. If I had to be a Pokémon, I would be an Eevee because I love changing my identity, shape, appearance, depending on the situation. I am extremely versatile.