Sex. Desire. Obsession. While those are all givens in an Almodóvar movie, Law of Desire is a special kind of absurdist romance that made Pauline Kael write, “Almodóvar’s tone is not like anyone else’s… It doesn’t disguise its narcissism; it turns it into bright-colored tragicomedy.” Porn director Pablo has a steamy one-night stand with a young fan, Antonio (Antonio Banderas). But while Pablo is still in-love with his ex, Antonio falls into an obsession. Meanwhile, his transsexual sister, Tina (Carmen Maura), struggles with her own misogyny. Join us for what’s sure to be a festive, glamorous evening, presented by performance artist and downtown legend, Carmelita Tropicana!
The first film in the English language to ever use the word “homosexual”, Basil Dearden’s intense drama features an extraordinary performance by Dirk Bogarde (a British matinee idol whose own homosexuality has been well-documented), playing a married barrister who becomes a victim of a blackmailer targeting closeted gay men in London. Visual artists McDermott& McGough first saw the film in their teens, and it into their own hidden desires: “Today, homosexual blackmailing may not have so much power. But with the anti-gay laws passed in Russia and how homosexuals are treated in Africa, the Middle East, etc., Victim still resonates powerfully.”
Icelandic songstress and alterna-gay icon Björk stars in director Lars von Trier’s Palme d’Or winning musical melodrama about a good-hearted factory worker who toils to save enough money for an operation to cure her son of the same genetic blindness that she’s been afflicted with. Caught in tragic circumstances, Selma retreats into imaginary musical numbers to express her sorrow and pain. For our guest artist Jacolby Satterwhite, von Trier’s blending of realism, fantasy and surrealism was a major inspiration on his thrilling, critically heralded video and performance work.
In this late 70s masterpiece of teen angst, out-of-touch parents set off a chain of events that inspire their children to commit an astonishing act of rebellion. Kaplan’s realist drama was so controversial that distributor Orion Pictures shelved the film for two years. For our guest presenter Amos Mac, publisher of the groundbreaking trans zine Original Plumbing, the film is a bittersweet reminder of “the cruel joke of my adolescence.” You won’t want to miss this provocative cult classic featuring a 15-year-old, midriff-baring wearing Matt Dillon in his first film role.
This queer cinema landmark about a young British Pakistani who opens up a laundromat with his white punk lover (a very young Daniel Day-Lewis) was a late 80s inspiration for an entire generation. For acclaimed visual artist Chitra Ganesh, “the film’s greatness comes from not only being one of the first films to represent queerness in South Asian subjects,” but also as story of queer desire “animated by dynamics of immigration, class, colonialism, and the dubious promise of urban subcultures that were liberatory and racist in equal measure.” A film that will remind you what queer cinema has been and what it could be again!
What could be queerer than the unlikely love story of Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort? Not much, and we couldn’t be more excited to have director Sebastian Silva, of this summer’s wonderful, hilarious CRYSTAL FAIRY (2013), present this Hal Ashby classic. You probably know this, but here it goes: 20-year-old Harold (Cort, who lived on-and-off with Groucho Marx for seven years) is a suicidal wealthy heir who meets the 79-year-old, eccentric Ruth (Gordon), who teaches him the value of banjo playing, and “making the most of his time on earth.” Filled with the most uplifting, inspiring gallows-humor you’ve ever seen, don’t miss HAROLD AND MAUDE – and feel free to sing along to Cat Stevens’ “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out.“
Performance takes viewers on a hallucinogenic trip through the underbelly of 1960s bohemia as seen through the eyes of a sadistic gangster on the lam (an ultra-glam James Fox). Filmmaker and activist Gregg Bordowitz first saw the film in 1987 during the height of the AIDS crisis. "It appealed to my queer sensibilities with its bisexuality, gender confusion, and passion, and taught me that 'performance' is a matter of self-constructed persona embracing both the good and evil in the psyche.” Performance endures as a bold testament to a time of seismic change, and reminds us that the concept of self is always open to interpretation.
Abel Ferrara’s morbidly funny masterpiece of feminist rage -- and the most heart-warming of all rape revenge films -- Ms. 45 stars the bewitching Zoe Lund as a mute seamstress, who, after being assaulted twice in one day, starts to kill men with her .45 caliber pistol. Performance artist Viva Ruiz has long been taken with this gritty urban fairy tale: “As a native New Yorker, I swoon over the images of NYC at its 1981 most romantically trashy, authentic and unsterilized = R E A L.” Real indeed, and not to be missed on the big screen.
In the 90’s, lesbian chic was all the rage, but as documentary filmmaker Yoruba Richen remembers, there was (and remains) few images for black women to identify with, which is why this film, about 4 women who rob a bank, meant so much to her: “When Set it Off came out we had a reason to go to the movies on a Friday night, bring our dates and swoon over butch Queen Latifah and beautiful Jada Pinkett. The film showed black women being bad and sexy and going for what we wanted. I ate it up and began to dream that maybe one day I could make films that showed us in all of our complexity- fearless, flawed and determined.”
ASHIK KERIB is the last completed film by Sergei Parajanov (THE COLOR OF POMEGRANATES), an Armenian filmmaker who was imprisoned by the Soviet Union for “incitement to suicide and homosexuality.” Dedicated to the director’s friend Andrei Tarkovsky, this delightful adventure about a poor boy who must spend 1001 days accumulating riches in order to marry a wealthy girl is told through sumptuous tableaus, with colorful characters moving and spinning across the screen in richly decorated costumes, creating the impression of a folk dance musical. At the center of the film is the luminous presence of the beautiful actor Yuri Mgoyan, often speculated to have been the director’s lover. Parajanov, who never denied his homosexuality, was championed by Fellini and Bertolucci, and has been deeply influential on My Barbarian, the LA-based performance and video group, in large part because of the director’s “ability to imbue depictions of folk cultural forms with a queer sensibility and magical eroticism in the face of Soviet power.” Join us for a rare screening of this magical film, and a provocative discussion with My Barbarian’s Alex Segade and Malik Gaines!
Geo Wyeth Presents THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET
John Sayles’s comedy gives a smart, political edge to the oft-told “stranger in a strange land” sci-fi story with African-American actor Joe Morton as “The Brother”, an alien stranded in New York City. Chased by two white Men in Black, he must also negotiate a myriad of class and racial challenges. The film’s connection between “alienness” and “blackness” resonated strongly with musician and performer Geo Wyeth (who released his first studio album, Alien Tapes): “I wish I had seen this as a teenager… If you have ever felt your own body permeating unseen dimensions or worlds, unreachable by language or logical perception, you will connect to this film.”
Featuring Bette Davis, Joan Blondell, and a blazingly memorable performance by Ann Dvorak as the doomed, sybaritic heroine, Three on a Match perfectly embodies the forbidden pleasures of Pre-Code Hollywood that seduced our presenter, New Queer Cinema pioneer Tom Kalin (Swoon, Savage Grace). “At an impressionable age, I stumbled upon the mirror-world of Pre-Code films on late night television,” Kalin says, “these movies dared to show marital discord with pleasure-seeking female protagonists who flaunted convention.” Preceded by the remarkably dream-like Bubbles (featuring the young Judy Garland). Join us for a special evening of deep drama and sinuous sensuality!