To whom it gay concern
Gaze picks by Brian Finnegan, GCN editor1 Gone. Gretchen and John Morning’s documentary following an American mother, Katheryn Gillern, as she searches for her missing gay son, Aeryn, has no easy resolutions, but as an indictment of the homophobia beneath the polite veneer of western society it’s powerful stuff. Central to the film’s emotional impact is Gillern herself. She’s a spellbindingly sympathetic presence.
2 Jobriath AD. Although Jobriath, the world’s first openly gay rock star, is largely forgotten, his light shone bright for a brief time in the mid-1970s. His glamorous rise and spectacular fall are the subject of Kieran Turner’s fascinating documentary, which reclaims him from the commercial wreckage as a major influence on the evolution of pop, a victim of music-industry excess, and a martyr for gay rights, despite being shunned by the gay community because of his stereotypical moniker, “The true fairy of rock”.
3 I Want Your Love. In 2010, Travis Mathews blurred the line between art-house cinema and online gay porn with his short I Want Your Love, following a night of sex between best friends. It went viral, inspiring Mathews to flesh the film out for a feature-length version. The result fits neatly into the new gay realism era, exemplified by last year’s breakout hit, Weekend. Thirty-year-old Jesse wonders why his life has gone off the rails in San Francisco as his friends gear up to throw him a going-away party.
4 Beauty (Skoonheid).Opening at a wedding in Johannesburg, Oliver Hermanus’s dark and violently devastating film lets the camera pan across the crowd and then stop to observe a beautiful young man. He’s Christian, the son of a former colleague of François, who we realise is the camera’s point of view. François is a married father who attends gay orgies with similar closeted middle-agers. As he becomes dangerously obsessed with Christian, Beauty becomes a film about South Africa and how the freedoms taken for granted by post-apartheid generations are always out of reach for their elders.
5 Keep the Lights On. A hit at Sundance, Ira Sachs’s film follows a gay couple, Erik and Paul (Thure Lindhardt and Zachary Booth, below)as their love grows and then slowly unravels. Paul’s drug habit and Erik’s sexual compulsiveness don’t make for an easy relationship ride, but this richly textured film is never difficult to watch. The director also beautifully indulges his love of New York against a soundtrack from Arthur Russell. What’s not to like?
Gráinne Healy, chairwoman of Marriage Equality, chooses her favourite lesbian films
1 Desert Hearts (1985). This movie is based loosely on the Jane Rule novel Desert of the Heart, set in 1959. Directed by Donna Deitch, it stars Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau as an English professor and a casino worker who meet in Reno. A classic lesbian film because the two main characters don’t end up unhappy, deserted or dead! A somewhat earnest offering but a believable and honest depiction of women-loving-women relationships. Believed to have been used as a prototype for lesbian love scenes; the makers of The L Word asked their prospective cast to watch this film for lesbian inspiration.