Gay movie round-up
Robin Lee previews LGBT-interest movies at the Glasgow Film Festival, Channel 4’s Gay Week and the early film career of Pier Paolo Pasolini.
The Glasgow Film Festival programmes five films with a queer bent this year. It’s unbearably hot in The Wayward Cloud, where Taiwan’s heatwave causes the sales of watermelons to shoot up. Hsiao-Kang tries to hide the fact that he’s a porn actor from girlfriend Shiang-chyi, as they drift through life. Director Tsai Ming-liang intersperses the story with dreamlike, über-camp, Busby Berkeley-style musical sequences. Similarly dreamy is 4:30 (pictured), from 15 director Royston Tan, in which a boy wakes at the titular time each morning to spy on a male neighbour and steal from him while he sleeps. The relationship is obsessive yet unspoken, until a suicide attempt.
A Soap takes the fanciful plots of TV and makes them real, as beauty salon owner Carolina leaves her boyfriend and moves in next to a pre-op transsexual, Veronika. Their friendship develops, much like the connection between Nike and Katrin in Summer in Berlin. In the post-reunification city, over a summer in which they drink and chat on their tenement balcony, the two women grow close through their trials with unsuitable men, joblessness and bringing up a child.
Filipino feature, The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, has a 12-year-old budding drag queen from a criminal family as the main character. He falls in love with a policeman who moves in next door and encourages him to build a better life for himself. And in The Dying Gaul, a screenwriter faces an ethical dilemma when he writes an excellent script based on his lover’s death from AIDS. He’s offered a million dollars for it - but only if he makes it a heterosexual story. See listings for screening dates, times and venues.
Channel 4 schedules Gay Week from Monday 26 February-Friday 2 March, as part of its morning education programme. Rapper QBoy talks about Coming Out to Class with gay school students; teens talk about what happens when Mum’s Gone Gay; the first-ever same-sex end-of-school dance in the UK occurs in My Big Gay Prom; and Stephen K Amos explores the prejudice, violence and intimidation involved with being queer and black in Batty Man. There’s a repeat of Sex, Lies and Soaps, profiling gay teens on TV; How To Dump Your Mates, in which Chris has to decide whether to swap straight friends for gay; and a Gay to Z guide.
Renewed interest in gay film directors of the past, and the relationship their work has to their sexuality, has seen retrospectives for Mitchell Leisen, Lindsay Anderson (both at the Edinburgh International Film Festival) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder (at the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow) in recent years. So it’s pleasing to find a two-part DVD box set of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s (pictured, inset) early films, selected from the period 1961-69, being released. The poet, director, homosexual and staunch Communist enjoyed challenging the sexual and religious taboos of Catholic postwar Italy, often incurring the wrath of those in power in the process.
Part one of the box set is released on Monday 26 February, and includes his directing debut, Accattone!, set in the slums of Rome. The eponymous (anti-)hero and his friends are thieves and pimps who regard work as a dirty word, lolling about challenging each other with bets. Women are complicated: often they are a source of income, but when Accattone meets Stella, he attempts to make an honest living. In RoGoPaG, Pasolini contributes a film short, La Ricotta, that incurred him a jail sentence for blasphemy. He casts Orson Welles as a director making a movie of the crucifixion, and satirises the society watched over by religion: Jesus enjoys sex with boys, and a starving extra dies on the cross from indigestion after eating some cheese. And finally, Love Meetings (Comizi d’Amore)is a documentary asking everyday Italians their views on sex, society and religion. Tartan Video, £39.99.