It's quite likely that 2013 will be reflected upon as a landmark year for queer cinema and queers in cinema, for better or worse. And in the spirit of community, this column decided to open itself up to a half-dozen or so different folks, asking them for some of the highlights (and next week, lowlights) in that regard. Here are 10 (and please feel free to add your own in the comments section):
It was a queer old Berlinale this year, but for me its clear highlight was Sebastian Lifshitz’ “Bambi," winner of the Teddy for Best Documentary. The film is a portrait of Marie-Pierre Pruvot, a transsexual woman and 1960s Paris showgirl of fascinating candor and insight. Pruvot admits that her striking beauty and ability to “pass” made life easier for her than most mid-century transsexuals, yet explains how the realization that her looks would one day fade caused her to leave behind show business for a Sorbonne education and a career as a school teacher. A surprise appearance at the festival by Pruvot, a.k.a. Bambi (at 78, still striking and fiercely articulate), was a humbling bonus. [Matthew Hammett Knott]
The Depiction of Lesbian Relationships in "Blue Is the Warmest Color"
There are many highlights and lowlights in Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” but one of the most commendable aspects of the film is its depiction of lesbians and lesbian relationships. While Kechiche has been attacked for his directing methods and the film’s notorious sex scenes, he successfully portrays lesbians free of common stereotypes. Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) isn’t shown as a typical hot straight-girl-turned-curious and Emma (Léa Seydoux) isn’t overly butch. They both have a decent mix of feminine and masculine qualities, as any character should since gender identity and expression aren’t wholly relative to sexuality. Even in the lesbian bar scene there is a realistic blend of butch and femme and everything in between -- although there are a lot more cute femmes than you’d find in a New York City bar, but maybe France is where it’s at. Kechiche also portrays Adèle and Emma’s relationship as any other without exploiting it as a lesbian one (excluding sex scenes) and instead revealing them as two women in love. “Blue” is the first film -- at least the first widely recognized and highly awarded film -- that focuses on two women in a realistic, passionate and troubled long-term relationship. You don’t have to be a lesbian or a woman to find something moving and relatable about their story, and that is a remarkable feat for a LGBT, or any, film. [Erin Whitney]
Lance and Gus Bring "Milk" To Russia
I think we can all agree that Russian queers have had one hell of a year. The entire gay world is watching in horror as Putin's government closes in on LGBT citizens for no good reason and stigmatizes support from straight Russian allies. Luckily, Russia's gay cinephiles are braver than we can possibly imagine. Even after this tumultuous year, a long legal battle, and five bomb threats, St. Petersburg's LGBT film fest Side By Side (which had a rough year itself) went on as planned last month with help from some distinguished guests. Gus Van Sant, Dustin Lance Black and producer Bruce Cohen were on hand in St. Petersburg last week to present "Milk", their Oscar-winning modern classic about the late, great Harvey Milk. When international relations are iffy, leave it to us queers to find common ground in good old-fashioned gay cinema. [Austin Dale]