Queer Cinema: Shamim Sarif and Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema (2006)

Reading in The Guardian today how novelist and filmmaker Shamim Sarif had managed to get two cross-cultural lesbian themed films out this year, The World Unseen and I Can’t Think Straight; was an inspiring story of how if you are determined enough, despite all the barriers, you can achieve something:

Being a gay, British-born Indian Muslim, she says, has far from hindered her career – if anything her race and sexuality equipped her with the drive and conviction needed to succeed the industry. She wants, she says, to take advantage of the freedom she has in this country to break down as many prejudices as possible elsewhere.

Hearing of the ridiculous arguments put against it made me see that there are many who are still woefully ignorant or just don’t want to know that these stories are valid:

As well as the gay theme, the mixed-race cross-cultural elements of both stories also proved to be a stumbling block in some countries…the Dubai international film festival rejected it on the grounds that “the subject matter doesn’t exist”.

Such films prove how film really can make a difference, and watching  the interesting and informative Fabulous!  The Story of Queer Cinema (although it did skip through periods rather too quickly and where was the briliant  Kissing Jessica Stein and Fire? ) last night proved this to me. It showed through gay people’s (including filmmakers like Gus Van Sant, John Waters, Todd Haynes, Donna Deitch, critic B. Ruby Rich and gay film historian and filmmaker Jennie Livingston) testimonies how important it was to have a representation of yourself on screen to feel that there are people out there like you leading similar lives.  It was moving to see how lesbians embraced films like Desert Hearts because it was one of the only things they had to relate to onscreen.

It also made me realise how there are some great looking films I have yet to see:  Mala Noche, Parting Glances, Saving Face, Happy Endings as well as the seminal Desert Hearts.


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