Movie Magazine International

The 15th London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, March 28—-April 12, 2001

Special Report By Moira Sullivan

It helps to be a member of the National Film Theatre in London to get a ticket to the opening and closing nights of the London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival—otherwise you may find the events sold out. The festival sponsored by the British Film Institute was recently from March 28 to April 12 and it’s a good festival to attend if you have a spring break. This year, actress Kelly McGillis from was present for opening night with her latest starring performance Monkey's Mask from Australia directed by Samantha Lang and based on a novel by Dorothy Parker . The film was a new direction for McGillis –an actress who first received attention in Top Gun opposite Tom in the 1980’s. In this new film, working class lesbian detective Jill (Susie Porter) searches for a missing teenager and winds up discovering Diana, a refined poetry teacher played by McGillis. The film noir style is quick to spot including a voice over narration by the detective. McGillis is flattered to have a gay public and has been applauded for strong female parts in The Accused with Jodie Foster and Witness with Harrison Ford. She also gave Master Classes about her acting career in a special section of the festival.

Lesbian features have been sadly lacking at lesbian and gay film festivals so the London festival was proud to present several features this year. And who would have guessed Kelly McGillis in an upbeat low budget film from Australia. In addition to Monkey’s Mask was Susan Seidelman’s Gaudi Afternoon made in Spain starring a lesbian couple played by Juliette Lewis and Lili Taylor. In this gender bender, the eternal Judi Davis plays an American translator in Barcelona who is hired to track down the ‘husband’ of a femme fatale. Another feature is The Girl , a US production with a French cast adapted from a short story by Monique Wittig , a tale of obsessional love set in Paris, where else?

Notable sections from the festival include Weimar and Beyond with vintage films, documentaries and representations of of gays and lesbians during the Weimar Republic in Germany during the 1930’s. Add to that films from Japan and the Shinjuku Society with explicit images of homosexuality, some of which are more than 40 years old. Multiply that with examples of European cinema from Iceland, Sweden, Norway, France, Italy and Belgium. Add World Cinema selections from East Asia to South America. Multiply that with hundreds of shorts at the festival.

With an eye to the future, veteran filmmaker Michelle Citroen spoke about the future of queer cinema and what it will mean for queer filmmakers. She presented excerpts from a series of interactive CD ROMS on lesbian culture in a 5 course program called QUEER MEALS.

Festival organizers also say that their 15th year has been the most successful with over 20,000 ticket sales with over 181 films from over 40 countries. A quality festival on the international circuit with world class films by gays and lesbians, the London festival can be found at

Showing no signs of moving on, immediately following the festival at the National Film Theatre was a retrospective honouring gay icon Joan Crawford who has retrospectively made coat hangers fashionable. British television also commemorated the star with a screening of Mommie Dearest. Since most of Joan’s frustrations are now regarding as symptoms of job related stress, Christine Crawford is hereby advised to take a dip in the Thames. This is Moira Sullivan from Movie Magazine International, London

This is Moira Sullivan from Movie Magazine International, London

© 2001 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 4/01

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