Special Report: Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival 2002, Paris, FRANCE

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival

Paris, October 31- November 3 2002

At a new location in Pigalle, the Parisian Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival is well suited for the 800-seat Trianon Theatre, a gothic masterpiece complete with funky staircases. Despite the town having a gay mayor the 14-year-old, Cineffable has to scramble for funding as a women only event. Offering mixed screenings during the year Cineffable still puts out a rich program this year with 69 films from 15 different countries. And with over 4,000 members Cineffable prides itself on being the First Lady of France.The festival kicked off with a performance by the French musician MA, a video, sound installation complete with a go-go girl who twirled ribbons and fire during the two-hour performance.

This year the audience award went to By Hook or by Crook, a butch noir buddy film written and directed by Silas Howard starring herself and Harriet Dodge. Cinematographer Ann T Rossetti from the 1994 Sundance Film Festival smash hit Go Fish is at it again with a grainy in your face camera style reminiscent of John Cassavettes. Howard with her in-depth look at two working class butches won over two comparatively tame feature films Treading Water and A Family Affair. In A Family Affair, director Helen Lesnick plays Rachel Rosen who after leaving New York City and heartbreaker Reggie meets Christine, a nice California girl who converts to Judaism and wants a family, much to the delight of Rosen's parents, proud members of PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Treading Water on the other tackles the homophobia of a Massachusetts mom who refuses to recognize her daughter's partner. And on the wild side, the fourth film in competition was fetish goddess Maria Beatty's Lust the Seven Deadly Sins, a study of desire.

The bearded female performance artist, circus director and clown Jennifer Miller walked off with two awards for best documentary feature Un Cirque à New York and best documentary short Juggling Gender A popular guest at the festival Miller confronts stereotypes of gender and poses questions about the construction of sexual and gender identity in her films. Interviews with my New Girlfriend by Cassandra Nicolaou from Canada hit the spot for best short where nine women are questioned by an unseen interviewer on a variety of topics, one of which offers her CV and two who are a couple looking for fun. Other pearls of the festival include a documentary portrait of candid thoughts and everyday views on two Chinese lesbians called The Box. Dayna McLeod's Watching Lesbian Porn has to be one of the most hilarious treatments of adult entertainment to date where the filmmaker does a playful a critique of the female gaze. And Paris was a King is a creative documentary short on up and coming French drag kings. The 50 some members of Cineffable volunteer and all decisions are made collectively. Interesting sidebars this year included debates on sex workers, single lesbians, the Mexican women's movement and the relationship between lesbians and the French government. The 15th Cineffable will take place next year in November around Halloween and hopefully the French government will kick in some funds for the First Lady of France.

This Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Paris, France

More Information:
Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival 2002, Paris, FRANCE