Had a relaxing week in Toronto and spent a lot of time looking at the skyline, water and sunsets.
One day, we wandered around the entertainment district and discovered Queer Outlaw Cinema – a free exhibition running until August 17th at TIFF.
Featuring Derek Jarman, Isaac Julien, Scott Treleaven, Ulrike Ottinger and Bruce LaBruce.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Derek Jarman, a British filmmaker, artist and activist who was outspoken in his fight against the (anti-gay, etc) policies of Margaret Thatcher. The exhibition features one of his super 8/experimental films, Imagining October— a dreamlike meditation on art and politics in the final years of the Cold War.
Imaging October is a mixture of images and film clips interspersed with politically tinged slogans. For example:
English bobbies in the street
protect the rights of them they beat.
Dungeness by Isaac Julien and Picture Yourself In A Burning Building by Scott Treleaven were inspired by Jarman’s technique (tributes to him, really) but, for me, lacked the “rebel” edge of the other exhibits. Both Julien and Treleaven have done work which would have better fit an outlaw narrative.
The best part of QOC was being introduced to the work of Ulrike Ottinger. First we saw a short film, Superbia – The Pride (1986) – a political procession that is part parade, part military exercise and all corruption. One of my favorite (translated, of course) lines: “Only the banks can survive hari-kari.”
Inspired by Virginia Wolff’s Orlando, Freak Orlando traces the journey of the main character’s reincarnation and transformation through 5 points in history. There are lots o’ themes present:
- Outsider as side show attraction, for the amusement of others
- Outsiders relegated to a certain place in society or face destruction if they refuse to play the role.
- The attempt to annihilate outsiders through assimilation
- Outsiders living together in community–you’d think it would be a paradise but the effect of repression/suppression is there (with a tip of the hat to Todd Browning’s Freaks).
- What does it mean to be accepted/integrated into society if it’s the same establishment (who is still making the rules). Even in “freak positive” world the deck is still rigged…
- And lot’s more- sacred shopping! the bearded woman nailed to the cross! the self-flagellating army of leather clad Tom of Finland types! Outlaw beard stroking!
- This movie is just ripe for film analysis/social commentary essays.
We didn’t really spend any time at the Bruce LaBruce exhibit (a door warns you that it’s x-rated!) featuring two films Offing Jack and Pierrot Lunaire.
We had no problem with the content, but we had spent so much time with the Ottinger rooms we were ready for dinner. 🙂
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