Glasgay! Film Festival
- Paul Dale
- 20 August 2009
'Only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one.' Elvis Presley said that. He should know he misspent the best years of career in some of the worst. Like Elvis' movie career queer cinema or at least that of it represented by the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (on tour) seems to have entered a stage of terminal decline despite some early promise. Faced with the same dreary bunch of films that have already passed through Aberdeen and Edinburgh and soon to go on to Inverness it's difficult to get excited about the Glasgay! Film Festival programme but there are a few bits of rough worthy of your attention.
But let's first clear the table of the dross. Nick Oceano's Pedro (Tue 22 Sep), a promising sounding biopic of Pedro Zamora, the first HIV positive reality TV star (in MTV's The Real Show in 1994) is a tawdry, uninteresting and amateurish affair. Gay baby rearing comedy Baby Love (Sun 27 Sep) is the kind of pink pound targeted middle class French tosh that leaves one reaching for the Bruce La Bruce box set. Jacques Martineau and Olivier Ducastel's French gay rights epic Born In 68 (Sun 6 Sep) is decent enough but very uneven in tone and better suited to viewing on the small screen. American gay parenting drama Dream Boy (Tue 15 Sep) is innocuous to the point of anaemia and Swedish drama Patrick 1.5 (Sun 11 Oct) is just plain silly (gay adoption/homophobe stalker thriller).
So what does that leave us with? Well there's the festival opener Shank (Thu 3 Sep) which is unique to Glasgow. To be fair Shank is pretty ropey but Simon Pearce's occasionally visceral drama does at least put a healthy slice of 'youth' and 'street' back in the queer cinema frame. Via email Pearce described his ultra low budget debut as 'intentionally gritty, brutal, graphic, sexy and moving in equal measure.' And there is no arguing with his assertion that it sets out to 'Depict recognisable aspects from gay life far removed from the more oft-seen languid and saccharine offerings of the genre. Treading where Skins wouldn't dare to tread this is gay cinema for the YouTube generation.'
Canadian Heather Tobin's assured lesbian and incisive romancer To Each Her Own (Sun 20 Sep) is also worth a punt as is Karin Babinshka's bucolic Czech coming of age drama Dolls (Sun 4 Oct). If it's cinemania campery you seek then really your only option is Bandaged (Tue 29 Sep), a kitsch and fairly enjoyable homage to Georges Franju's remarkably odd 1960 noir The Eyes without a Face.
Greek Pete (Tue 6 Oct), a semi improvised drama based on the lives of a group of London rent boys which was hothoused and researched by filmmaker Andrew Haigh over six months is also a work of integrity and intelligence. Vintage queens may want to check out the new digital print of Ron Peck's 1978 gay teacher drama Nighthawks (Tue 8 Sep). Peck's film has the dubious honour of being pioneer of sorts for British queer cinema. For better or for worse.
Glasgay! Film Festival, GFT, Glasgow and various venues from Tue 3 Sep-Tue 6 Oct.