Monday, April 02, 2007


Exterior of Southbank Centre; photo by Val PhoenixRadical Desire

This was the big femme shindig, with a programme of short films, a live performances and a lively Q&A/argument at the end. Something for everyone, then.

The night kicked off 30 minutes late, thanks to the previous programme over-running. Bird Club on Film performed a rather scrappy and under-rehearsed skit, culminating in some jokey porn accompanied by them singing "Birds on Film" to the tune of "Girls on Film". Not really sure what this added to the evening.

The films, as picked by the unnamed curator, spanned the sublime to the ridiculous. Dara Birnbaum's fabulous re-rendering of Wonder Woman, Technology/Tranformation: Wonder Woman, from 1978, was a crowd pleaser, with Lynda Carter's every appearance loudly applauded.

Dames was a witty lesbian reworking of film noir, by Maureen Devanik Butterfield, in which the two "dames" decided they really didn't need their gangster boyfriends.

Love Struck, by Susan Ali, was laugh-out-loud funny, as Cupid's accuracy let him down, requiring one of his targets to take matters into her own hands.

Debris, by Justin Kelly, left me utterly bemused. No idea what was going on there.

Meeting of Two Queens, from Cecilia Barriga, was another classic, a 1991 collage of clips of the marvellous Marlene and Greta, reclaimed to create a new meaning.

Two newies finished off the programme. I Want to Be a Secretary started off intriguingly enough with a naive secretary starting off her first week at work, keen to make a good impression. However, the story-telling techniques: archive footage and voiceover, really did not sustain the 12 minutes of the story. I found myself a bit restless before it ended on a very odd note, with Dusty Springfield singing over a montage of secretaries.

The most popular film was the world premiere Fem, by Inge Blackman. Several of the women in it were at the screening and cheered loudly during and after the screening. This film also generated the lively discussion at the end, as femmes applauded its celebration of them. The film was a butch appreciation of femmes and set them up in glossy settings as fantasy objects/subjects.

Not finding myself anywhere on the femme-butch spectrum, I remained immune to the thrill that much of the audience seemed to find in this. I don't share the view that femmes don't see themselves depicted onscreen or receive appreciation in the mainstream or the lesbian world. The film programme itself showed that and those films span 30 years. I was also uneasy at the curator repeatedly declaring how wonderful it was to see "beautiful women" onscreen as if femmedom was the only way a woman could appear beautiful. Nobody questioned this statement.

However, the post-film discussion quickly degenerated into a competition as to who is more oppressed, a bit of a pointless exercise. Blackman spoke of wanting to celebrate women who work in the community and of lesbians giving ourselves permission to look at women. Good points well made.

Queer in Your Ear?

More looking in this music video programme of queer and queer-friendly artists ranging from up and coming indie types Promo Funk and Grizzly Bear to the pop fluff of Kylie and Scissor Sisters. It's a pity the gender ration was so skewed with only two or three queer women in 16 videos. Nonetheless, my favourites included "Pass This On" by The Knife as much for the song as for the video featuring Sweden's leading drag queen. Bjork's "All Is Full of Love" was included presumably because it features two female-featured robots getting jiggy. However, since both of them are Bjork, this is more a case of self love rather than same-sex love, surely.

Gossip's video for "Standing in the Way of Control" isn't up to much, is it? Still, it's great to see Beth strutting her stuff. The standout, however, by a long way was Peaches' "Downtown", which managed to encompass gender play, S/M, glamourous settings and an absolutely filthy song. She also dons butch and femme drag to have sex with herself. But didn't Annie Lennox do this about 20 years ago?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: