Special Report: The London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
The London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival was held March 30- April 13th. Prey for Rock & Roll (USA, 2003), opened the festival film starring the queen of gender bending, Gina Gershon. (USA, 2004). One of the largest gay and lesbian film festivals, the London event tries to accord equal representation for the latest films by gays and lesbians. US/UK films predominate the selection, and there is also a world cinema category.

One example was Tropical Malady (Thailand, 2004) which comes straight from the official Cannes selection this year, that caused some critics to walk out because of its innovative form. The story is about two men who strike up a friendship and love relationship and explore the Thai countryside by motorbike. One of their stops is a Buddhist temple. Their tour guide remarks that the cave corresponds to the world above. From the mythic past comes a tale of a leopard that tries to steal the soul of a man. The film enchantingly unites myth with modern day Thailand.

This year’s selection included excellent experimental shorts/feature by Maria Klonaris/Katerina Thomadaki--Chutes. Désert. Syn (1983-85) (France, 2004)shown with the incredible Selva (2004), recently featured at a retrospective at Créteil Films de Femmes 2005. These two respected Greek filmmakers have made France their home since the Greek junta of 1974 and are involved in the production, distribution and promotion of their own work - naming their own creativity, with a non-commercial vision. with explorations on intersexuality and the feminine body. '´Selva'´ is a visual poem with vivid sound that explores the space of a woman communicating with the forest—and is a dance of camera and image. Chutes explores the visual terrain of a woman suspended in space, falling and moving, seemingly weightless.

Oranges are not the only fruit (UK, 1990) - based on the classic novel by Jeanette Winterson)and Orlando (UK, 1992)is probably one of the best renditions of the work of Virginia Woolf to date - directed by Sally Potter, UK, were both included in the "Telling Tales" section).
Two new provocative films were The Nomi Song (Germany, 2004) about Klaus Nomi who played a key role in gay underground culture in New York in the 70s. When Nomi performed people couldn’t believe his soprano register. An experimental feature shot through 16mm, Super 8 and DV camera by Jennifer Reeves The Time We Killed (USA, 2004) is about the agoraphobic Brooklyn based writer Robyn Taylor with black and white cinematography and a compelling script.

I met two of the programmers of the London festival :Jonathan Keane and Inge Blackman who sat in on a panel for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies held March 31--April 3. for cinema studies academia or film practice. Keane and Blackman want to retain Lesbian and Gay for the festival title and think its a broad category, but they also think queer is useful as does the The British Film Institute which sponsors the festival. Blackman said that its hard to get funding to make films with a lesbian theme in the UK, and that financiers often won't give money just because of it.

After two weeks of a rich and diverse program Mysterious Skin by Greg Araki (USA, 2004) closed the festival.

For Movie Magazine This is Moira Sullivan, London

More Information:
The London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival