Her small-town Minnesota classmates told her she was going to burn in hell. "Everyone was really blond," adds Jacobson, now 27. "It was like L.A., except in Minnesota, people are born that way."
At Jacobson's synagogue, meanwhile, "people were totally materialistic."
And so, alienated from both sides of the mainstream, the honor student gravitated toward the fringe, driving her mom's station wagon into Minneapolis to hang around the punk rock scene.
The filmmaker describes her teen angst in "Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore," her gritty, ultra-low budget, sexually explicit film about a smart, suburban young Jewish woman in search of cool punk friends (and good sex) at the local B-movie theater.
Ranked by Spin magazine as one of the "50 Biggest Influences on Girl Culture," the movie is not Jacobson's first foray into guerrilla cinema. Inspired by her mentor, George Kuchar, "the King of trash filmmaking," Jacobson scraped together $1,600 to make the half-hour "I was a Teenage Serial Killer," when she was just 19. Film Threat magazine named the movie, about "a woman who kills dumb men," one of the "Top 25 Underground Films You Must See."
An unexpected business partner -- her own mom -- helped Jacobson raise the $50,000 required for "Mary Jane." Unfazed by the flick's mohawk-sporting stars, Ruth Jacobson moved to San Francisco and began sending postcards to strangers, asking for money. "My mom wanted me to have all the opportunities she never had for herself," explains Sarah, who, in turn, offered her previously conventional Jewish mother a whole new career.
After "Mary Jane" played at Sundance in 1997, Sarah hauled the film to festivals around the country while mom worked on distribution.
Next up for mother and daughter: Sarah's new movie, "Sleaze," about "an all-girl band on tour in Missoula, Mont., who hook up with the town geek." The name of the Jacobson's production company: Station Wagon Productions.
"Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore" plays at the Nuart March 12-18.