Queer Women of Color Film Festival, San Francisco June 12-14
Lim spoke about developing a proactive stance rather than a reactive stance to combat the stereotypical depiction of queer women of color. Far too often people of color die in films, which is an all too familiar trope, said Lim. "We need to create out own images, and tell our own stories", she exclaimed and QWOCMAP is living proof of this.
The strong community support for this festival includes Mayor Gavin Newsom and a host of sponsors. The festival is free and there are daily feasts donated by local eateries. But generous donations and community support keep this festival going. Despite budget cuts for culture, QWOCMAP is determined to survive and with the Queer Women of Color Media Project will continue to provide hands on education for filmmakers.
The 353 seat theater was filled to near capacity and the enthusiastic crowd gave artful feedback to the work of these filmmakers. It can only be said that the festival is getting better and better, and the films increase each year in quality as far as camera work, editing, sound and dialogue.
The theme of the festival this year was immigration and an afternoon "Convening Community" panel discussed "Multiple Borders" which was comprised of LGBTQI (Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, & Intersex) coalitions in human rights for queer women of color immigrants. On the panel were Noemi Calonje, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Philip Hwang, Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights, Madeleine Lim, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project and Laura Rivas, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights. An important area to recognize with the passage of Proposition 8 against gay marriage is the absence of legislation for same sex partners to sponsor their international partners. Prior to the panel there were several screenings of films on this topic including Madeline Lim's Sambal Belacan (1997), a film which is banned in Singapore about three queer Singaporean immigrants.
The filmmakers took the theme of immigration to task with some highly creative work. The poster icon of the festival is a still from Mr and Mrs Singh by Punam S, a film in which a married couple live a double life as a gay man and lesbian.
Other films this year include the animated short Two Embrace by Arizona filmmaker Carrie House. This little documentary presents a narrative that isn’t in the history books about Native Americans and the first immigrants to America, the Europeans.
Jolie Harris takes on the problematic cliché that is makings its way around in Gay is NOT the New Black. Harris said she was saddened by the wedge of disparity driven between what she believes is the white LGBT community and people of color. She believes that the connection which attempts to links Proposition 8 with the minority vote is inherently racist. The passage of Proposition 8 for gay marriage in California was blamed on people of color who supported Obama but not the marriage initiative. This inflated claim had a heyday in the media, which as a far from objective power structure is known to create conflict. But these messages were taken as factual. Harris said that the issues in the LGBT community seem far less radical than before, such as the rights for gays in the military and the right to install the age old institution of marriage. She feels that there are far more important issues that call for activism.
Tera Greene's Queerer Than Thou is a humorous collection of some of current labels in queer culture, from the classic 2.0 gay man to several creative distinctions for different LGBT populations, presented with a brilliant timing. One of the more inventive films of the festival was the scifi comedy with elaborate alien costume design in Dimension of IS: A Spectacular Future by filmmakers Gigi Otalvaro-Hormillosa and Heather Cox-Carducci.
The brilliant dialogue of (B.K. Williams in What if?, tackles the hidden implications of how outside is an outsider at a dinner party in a explosive standoff between Desiree Rogers and Monica Bhatnagar.
Cruzito’s moving documentary Non-Resident Alien chronicles the activist prose of the queer Afro-Cuban hip-hop trio Las Crudas Cubensi who have been performing since 1995.
The artists who were in the house had never seen the film which is complete with footage from Cuba. The festival concluded with a riveting concert by the group who have recently made the Bay Area their home.
The Eclectic 62nd Cannes Jury=Woman Power
The word "judge" was bantered around, after all this is a jury that will assess the work of several directors and award prizes. Isabelle Huppert declared, "I don't think we are here to judge. I think we are here to love films, and to see what we love more than others".
Sharmila Tagore , the brilliant actress from Satyajit Ray's films said that she thought Isabelle Huppert would be a tough jury president. Robin Wright Penn seems to not enjoy the limelight at all. She was in an out of her photo shoot in a matter of seconds but she came on strong in the press conference about choosing films from the heart. In her personal life this seems to be a key issue. The men in the jury didn't exude any notable charisma: Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Hanif Kureishi, and Lee Changdong - all excellent craftsmen. The exception was James Gray who boldly exclaimed that he didn't want to know anything about the films beforehand and go in cold.
In looking at this panel, we have two young actresses, two middle-aged and one almost 60--all extremely beautiful women, now or at one time. This seems to be the standard at Cannes for women jurors. As few are directors, next best are the directors muses: Nanni Moretti, Satyajit Ray, Michael Haneke, Hsiao-hsien Hou, Sean Penn. The men stand on their merits as directors and screenwriters.
President Isabelle Huppert (b: 1953) has an eclectic panel and it will be interesting to see its choices in ten days. After day one, we won't hear anything from the jury members until then.
Festival de Cannes is one of the most ritualized festivals out there, known for brilliant art house films, and scandals, and for sending shockwaves of new iconography down the festival pipelines to smaller venues, distributors and DVD markets. What this 62 Cannes might be most remembered for is this particular Madame la Présidente who has suffered on screen in a number of roles that are typically created for beautiful women on screen: as a young woman who kills her parents in Violette Nozière (1978), a prostitute for Jean Luc Godard in Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980), a brothel madam in Michael Cimono's Heaven's Gate (1980) and most recently as a self deprecating piano teacher who falls in love with her younger student in Michael Haneke's La pianiste (2002).
Perhaps her strongest role was as the last woman to be executed in France for performing abortions: Une affaire de femmes (1988).
Madame la Présidente !
Asia Argento! Cannes official competition jury member 2009! It doesn't get better than this!
Two of cinema's most visceral, outstanding actors will be scrutinizing the work of this year's line up of auteurs including Jane Campion, Quentin Tarantino, Lars Von Trier, Pedro Almodovar and Gaspar Noé.
Let's rock and roll!
Vivre Sa Vie: Living "the life"
1 Un bistrot - Nana veut abandonner - Paul - L'appareil a sous. (At a bistro, Anna wants to leave Paul, flipper, pinball game)
The film begins with Nana breaking up with her husband Paul and leaving him and their child. She has fallen out of love because he doesn't seem to notice her and she thinks he is mean. She wants him to loan her 20 francs, her rent, and he refuses. He has taken photos of her which she wants to see. She tells him that she has met someone who thinks she has a chance in movies. When she meets this man he shows her models of his work with scantily clad photos of women that he claims he sends to producers. She also asks him for 20 francs.
3 La concierge - Paul - La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc - Un journaliste (The concierge, Paul and The Passion of Jeanne d'Arc, a journalist.)
Nana is arrested for theft from a woman who "drops" 1000 francs. Though she offers to return it, the woman presses charges. She has now lost her apartment and claims she lives with friends. The police asks her what she is going to do and she replies, " I don't know, I am someone else". Already Nana has separated from her authentic self.
5 Les boulevards extérieurs. Le premier homme - La chambre. (The suburbs, the first man, the bedroom).
Nana goes to the suburbs of Paris where other prostitutes gather. Later she is propositioned by a man for sex. She is repulsed by her first encounter, a man who forces him to kiss her with an open mouth.
6 Recontre avec Yvette - Un café de banlieue - Raoul - Mitraillade dehors (Meeting with Yvette, a café in the suburbs, Raoul, shooting outside)
Nana meets Yvette, a housewife with children abandoned by her husband who has become a sex worker. Nana remarks that everyone is responsible for their actions. J L Godard may imply that Nana is not a victim, but freely chooses her lifestyle. Yet in almost very encounter with men she is a commodity of exchange that works against her will. The necessity of prostitution for the buyer is articulated. A French in the background tells the story of a man who lives with his wife in the suburbs, where his wife doesn't wear sunglasses and works in a factory in Créteil. They live a domestic life and only see his godmother, and never go to the Riviera. Anna looks straight into the camera. Nana meets Yvette's pimp, Raoul, who tells Nana her hairstyle is ugly. In Godard's Band à Part, Arthur first gets Odile's attention (Karina) by telling her that her hairstyle is ugly.
7 La Lettre - Encore Raoul - Les Champs Elysées (the letter, enter Raoul, Champs Elysées)
There is a closeup of Raoul's financial ledger with the women he pimps. A man is shot outside the café. As the police rush up, Nana runs away to another café overlooking a large boulevard. She writes a letter to get work in a firm on referral from a friend, and offers to send a photo. Raoul who has followed her tells her she can make much more money as a prostitute. He begins by telling her that she radiates goodness and that he is her friend. Nana wonders what category of women he has put her in. He replies that there are three categories: women with one, two and three expressions. After the conversation Raoul blows smoke in her mouth and she blows it out with a smile.
8 Les aprés-midi - L'argent - Les lavabos (bathroom sink) - Le plaisir - Les hôtels (afternoon, money, pleasure, hotels)
A series of off screen questions between Raoul and Anna establish the nature of her work: how much she will earn, what happens with the police, etc. He tells her the law. Before 1946 known prostitutes were registered with the police and health board and since 1947 only with the health board. In 1958 prostitutes are not supposed to walk back and forth on the streets, and stay away from Bois du Bologne and Champs Elysees. The establishing shot for this line of questioning is the Arc d' Triomphe on the Champs Elysees, then shots of Nana in a car, her hands receiving money, and shots of fully clothed clients and fixtures in hotel rooms.
9 Un jeune homme - Luigi - Nana se demande si elle est heurese A young man, Luigi, Anna wonders if she is happy
10 Un trottoir - un type - le bonheur n'est pas gai (A sidewalk, a particular type of man, happiness is not gay)
Anna Karina loved to dance and sing, and in this sequence Nana dances to a jukebox for Raoul and his men in a billiard hall and a young man she falls for. Raoul promises to take her to the movies but changes his mind. As part of the ritual used to establish prostitution, she swings around a pole, with the lyrics of a French tune "swing swing swing" in refrain.
11 Place du Châtelet - L'inconnu - Nana fait de la philosophie sans les savoir (Place du Châtelet, the unknown, Nana unknowingly, ovetande, engages in philsophy)
Nana asks an old man to buy her a drink in a posh café. In real life this is the philosopher Brice Parain. They speak about the regulating function of words. References are made to Plato and The Three Musketeers. The philosopher says one lives another life by not speaking and has to go through death. During the conversation Nana looks at the camera. Knowingly.
12 Encore le jeune homme - Le portrait ovale - Raoul revend Nana (Enter a young man, The Oval Portrait, Raoul sells Nana).
Godard in voice over quotes The Oval Portrait by Edgard Allen Poe (Oeuvres Edgar Poe) while the young man Anna has fallen in love with reads in bed. In the passage an artist paints his wife and in its perfection realizes she must die. Anna is going to quit working for Raoul and move in with her lover. Raoul grabs her as the husband of the concierge does when she tries to get the key to her apartment. She is taken for a ride in a car with a bunch of thugs. She asks what she has done wrong. Raoul tells her she has refused customers, and she responds that they disgust her. In a set up she is for the final time exchanged for money with another group of thugs. Raoul shorts them 1000 franc, and they don't hesitate to shoot her. Afterwards Raoul completes the execution and shoots her. The film ends.
1 Un bistrot - Nana veut abandonner - Paul - L'appareil a sous.
2 Le magasin de disques- deux mille francs - Nana vit sa vie
3 La concierge - Paul - La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc - Un journaliste
4 La police - interrogatoire de Nana
5 Les boulevards extérieurs . Le premier homme - La chambre
She goes to the exterior for her first job. Maillot Palace
6 Recontre avec Yvette - Un café de banlieue - Raoul - Mitraillade dehors
7 La Lettre - Encore Raoul - Les Champs Elysées
8 Les aprés-midi - L'argent - Les lavabos - Le plaisir - Les hôtels
9 Un jeune homme - Luigi - Nana se demande si elle est heurese
10Un trottoir - un type - le bonheur n'est pas gai
11 Place du Châtelet - L'inconnu - Nana fait de la philosophie sans les savoir
12 Encore le jeune homme - Le portrait ovale - Raoul revend Nana.
Créteil 31 Honors Anna Karina
The film, like Vivre Sa Vie, (Living "the life") has a tableaux form. It can be seen as a response to Godard's film. It is the story of Julie (Anna Karina), a hippie girl with a lifestyle involving drugs and alcohol and casual sex who enters into a relationship with a teacher, Alain (Michel Lancelot). He quits his job to be with Julie and slowly becomes a part of her world, leaving his business suits and proper manners behind for a new bohemian life. In the process he becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol. Julie's values change when she becomes a mother, but Alain slowly deteriorates, giving private lessons to children while drunk. In Vivre Sa Vie, Godard's Nana says that we are all responsible for our actions. Although her husband tries to blame Julie for his decline in Vivre Ensemble, Karina emphasizes that he makes his own fate as does Julie but is sympathetic to Alain and the existential angst of his life. Set in New York and Paris, there are many enchanting moments that capture the spirit of the 70s with the political activism, flower power and posture of just letting people be. Karina has made a poignant film that is both whimsical and melancholic.
Anna Karina was honored with a retrospective of films at Créteil this year which includes the first one that she made at 14 in Denmark: Pigen og Skoene - the Girl with the Shoes (11', 1959). The director IB Schmedes noticed Anna on the street dancing and singing. The film won a prize at Cannes at 1959 as the best short. Pigen og Skoene features a tall and very mature Anna sporting a pony tail who spots a pair of high heels that she wants to wear on a date. The shoes cause great pain for her feet and make her late. So her comfortable pumps catch up with her so that she can run to meet her boyfriend. In this film, Anna Karina, born Hanne Karin Bayer in Copenhagen Denmark in 1940, shows how she was ready for the camera. In films with Jacques Rivette, George Cukor, Luchino Visconti and J L Godard she shows a sensibility and wit that have made her an art house icon. Anna Karina continues to make films and her latest feature Victoria caught the attention of Korean youth who skipped school to see it where it debuted at the Pusan Film Festival in 2008, the 30th Florence International Women's Film Festival, 2008 and the 31st Créteil Films de Femmes Festival, 2009. Victoria ,
is directed and written by Anna Karina with music by Philippe Katerine. It is an experimental musical road HD video about a mysterious mute woman, Victoria, Louis' boss who gets gigs around Quebec for two musicians in drag, Stanislaus and Jimmy. Victoria's connection with Stanislaus turns out to be karmic. The film is low budget with artful invention and a clever narrative style.
- Exclusive interview with Moira Sullivan and Anna Karina at Créteil on Movie Magazine International, April 1, 2009, 9pm PST, 90.3 FM San Francisco, national webcast from April 3-9th.
- Exclusive interview with Moira Sullivan and Julie Dash at Créteil on Movie Magazine International,March 25, 2009, 9pm PST, 90.3 FM San Francisco, national webcast from March 27 - April 2.
Obama's and Michelle's Dance
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
Barack Obama, January 20, 2009.
Good Gravy for Tina Fey
And for good luck she told cyber scrooges "babs in la crosse", "cougarletter" and dianefan to "suck it".
This was Tina Fey's night, even if she almost tripped on the red carpet going up for her award. The comedienne who comically brought out the very worst on Sarah Palin was voted best actress in a TV comedy on January 11 by the Hollywood Foreign Press.
Gus Van Sant Gets Milk Nearly All Right
Gus Van Sant has done an excellent job of making a completely well crafted movie about the life and times of Harvey Milk who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone in San Francisco on November 27th 1978 - and tomorrow it will be exactly 30 years since Dan White, an ex fireman executed these two men in their offices under the influence of Twinkies. The film premiered earlier last month in San Francisco on October 28th and all the actors were on hand with Gus Van Sant to usher in the film at the Castro Theater.
Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk and he is totally convincing in every scene in representing this wonderful and enthusiastic supervisor who knew about people and their needs and how to successfully implement policy by building grass root connections. Harvey Milk energized the gay community and helped make the Castro a booming mecca for gay men. Though lesbians preferred to hang out in the East Bay or in the Mission, according to activist San Francisco educator Sally Gearheart Milk was concerned that lesbians were represented in every issue and brought in Anne Kronenberg ( Alison Pill) to run his campaign. Its hard to not fall in love all over again with Milk and thanks to the efforts of Sean Penn he is made real down to his truly humble happy and hard working persona. Josh Brolin plays Dan White brilliantly, a homicidal man Milk believed was a troubled latent homosexual. Despite his childish excesses Harvey Milk continued to fraternize with White even seconds before he was shot. Less successful in the film is Diego Luna as Milk’s lover Jack Lira. In real life though he was caught up with helping distressed men his long-term relationship with Scott Smith (James Franco) endured even after they went separate ways.
The film is not only the story of Harvey Milk but the galvanization of the gay community in San Francisco and while Milk would have been quick to point out that there are very few lesbians in this film – something that Van Sant seems to miss - he would have been happy to know that things changed during his life for the better. It is not always easy to make an historical film that rings true to life but Milk is one of those films that seems to get it mostly right.
Movie Magazine San Francisco Airdate November 26 2008
Its an incredible win for Barack Obama, no, incredible is not the word. Its credible. This victory shows that the old paradigm has shifted because we have evolved. The limited blue state, red state argot created out of the aftermath of the last eight year administration is soon to become obsolete just as other significations seem to have marched on. Remember when a red state was a Marxist state?
The color scheme this time seems to be a purple united states. At least that is how Obama envisions it. His victory speech on election night has to be one of the most powerful he has made to date, and of any politician of recent time for that matter, revealing so much more of his core. Obama is also a writer. Nobel prize recipient Toni Morrison points that out. He writes his own speeches and is not dependent on ghost writers. Clearly he won't be needing them for his inaugural address either. I recall the last inauguration that I watched in transit at Logan Airport in Boston. I was excited about a new time that promised a different kind of change. Poet laureate Dr Maya Angelou afterwards called Bill Clinton the first "black" president. Barack Obama is the real first. But he is far more than that. His refreshing ideas are what make him stand out more than anything, as well as his cool and refusal to stoop to manipulation and bating. He also picks his own staff and his running mate. He doesn't have to stiff it to anyone like the McCain camp who is already hanging out Governor Palin. As if to say that if McCain lost it was because of a woman. Obama shows every sign, so far, of making his own decisions and being comfortable in the driver's seat.
But now we come to another issue on election day that did not go so well. California Proposition 8, a deftly worded bigoted Mormon funded proposal to ban gay marriage passed by a small majority (5000 votes). One of the most expensive campaigns on a single issue in US history. How can it be, and of course the answer is inherent in the question, that we can embrace change on so much but not on the subject of marriage rights for lesbians and gays? The time has not come? What comparisons can we make here? Repealing Roe/Wade is not going to happen in this presidency, but perhaps gay marriage will not either. Civil rights for all is the paradigm waiting to shift, and perhaps San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is the person that will make that happen as he steps into the national arena. Could he be the "first gay mayor" for making it known that this was a real election day defeat in a blue state that is far from the color purple.
Journalist Ulrike Meinhof: From Theory to Practice
June 2 1967, representingwho were beaten and shot. Moritz Bleibtreu) in Edel's filmsuch as the shooting of civilians in Vietnam,Bundeskriminalamt (German bureau of investigation) tries to piece together why young people are becoming terrorists in Germany, naïvely intellectualizing the violence - a phenomena that Meinhof had spent years studying before becoming an activist. It is Herold who lights up like a Christmas tree when he connects the protests over US military imperialism in Vietnam, the generous supply o f US weapons to Israel, and the search for oil in the Middle East - to the bombings and gun power of the RAF. As military police he knows that terrorism is a reflection of power imbalance and his strategy is to make it larger and crank up the volume full blast to squash any resistance, thereby creating an über police state with tacit support of the German population. In response Ulrike Meinhof quotes Mao who states that a clear line of distinction is created when the enemy tries to squelch the truth by blacklisting the protest(ers). When she is incarcerated and isolated at Köln-Ossendorf she is aware of the effect this has on the psyche. When she later interacts with Gudrun Esslin at Stammheim to get their case prepared for trial they turn on each other. But although Esslin was considered the leader of the RAF it is actually Meinhof's analysis of repressive political systems that sets them apart from senseless young hooligans, and which motivates their cause and conviction. Esslin no longer can make sense of Meinhof's analyses that have served the RAP before their incarceration. She insists that RAF take full responsibility for their actions - and that a rescue mission be set into operation to get them out.
The Baader Meinhof Complex is Germany's contribution to the Best Foreign Language film category for this year's Academy Awards. It is a riveting chronicle of events from June 2 1976 to several bank robberies and bombings and the incarceration of several members of the RAF. Events leading up to the trial of astonishing legal impropriety and the presumed execution of Meinhof, Esslin and Baader reveals a bungling intelligence apparatus gone haywire that just wants to make it go away, anyway. There has been a distinct glamourization of violence and sexuality up until this point. The Baader Meinhof Complex is after all aimed at young people who weren't born at the time, and older people who were young at the time. At Stammheim it stops. Gone are the devil may care rides on the freeway at top speed, the spirit of collective action and the intoxicating suspense and high of several planned attacks that consume the film almost until the end. Yet the incarceration of the RAF leaders encouraged more young people to continue their cause. The execution of members of the Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972 is linked to the RAF, further evidence of the proverb that if you cut off the head of a dragon more will grow in its place. Bob Dylan's song at the end that "the answer is blowing in the wind" describes how little Germany understood its youth and their rebellion. The Baader Meinhof Complex articulates the mind and muscle behind political violence and it resonates deeply for those trying to make sense of terrorism today.
Lesbos Remains Lesbos
The island of Lesbos was named in antiquity after the Thessalian hero Lesbos, husband of Methymne, daughter of Makar. The name Lesbos is thought to come from the poet Sappho who was born on the island in 7 BC and who wrote romantic poetry to women. Some islanders strongly disagree that she was a lesbian and there are rumors that lesbians who visit the island to honor Sappho scare away tourists. But it seems to be the consensus of most islanders that tourism is on the increase because of international lesbians.
Don't these people have something better to do with their time? Whether Sappho was a Lesbian or just a Lesvian? Whether its Lesbos or Lesvos ? For example helping the wildlife (Lesbian spelled with a B) - or birdwatching on Lesvos spelled with a V when the birds first land after winter migration.
Note: I have regularly visited Lesb/vos for the past 12 years and have made films on the island which have been shown in Sweden, Greece and France.
"No Tears, No Applause, No Ontoward Outburst..."?
"IFILL: The next round of -- pardon me, the next round of questions starts with you, Sen. Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?
BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.
The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.
It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.
IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?
PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.
But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.
But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.
But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.
But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.
IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?
BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.
The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.
IFILL: Is that what you said?
PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.
IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy." (Laughter from audience).
Palin and Biden are consistent in one respect: "infantalizing" same sex partners via limited civil rights. The Alaska Governor is known for "Palinisms" (not unlike Bush Juniorisms) - circuitous often indirect and nonsensical mumbo jumbo. Let's look at it Sarah: Gwen's question to you was whether you supported gay marriage and "your answer is not the same as Joe's and it is that you do not". You explained that some of your "friends" would not be happy that you are "tolerant" of everyone's right to choose a partner. You admitted you have a "diverse" group of friends ( gay?). But that you are skeptical of same sex partners having hospital visitation and contractual rights. That in approving this you are concerned that we would be moving closer to the definition of marriage that is operationally "defined" as a union "between a man and a woman". BTW your colorful "folksy " superlatives: "bless their hearts, " the Feds" , "I betcha"," heck of a lot", and " darn" - and your Joe Six Pack and Hockey Mom analogies and beliefs on Russian foreign policy and climate change - will go down in history.
Joe, your "diplomatic " sanction of gay "civil rights" may appear more liberal. Maybe that is because you didn't have to imply "some of my best friends are gay" or "my other friends would not be happy about my position". But leaving the responsibility of same sex marriage up to "faiths" and "people who practice faiths" in a nation with a clear legislative separation of church and state is not far from cornball. Amen.
Tieing the Knot in San Francisco after 55 years, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon
This video of the wedding by Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Debra Chasnoff shows the ceremony officiating by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Phyllis Lyon died only months after the wedding.
“Registered partnership” - not marriage - has been legal in Sweden since 1995 and exists in several countries today. The clinical phrasing makes it easy to create and dissolve partnerships, like registering a business. The first partnerships were often created as expressions of political victory – a milestone for so-called “equal protection under the law”, but which does not come close to the meaning of honor and commitment in marriage. This was a hard earned victory in California shot down in 2004 and which still risks extinction on the ballot in November 2008. Massachusetts paved the way in the USA to make it happen. Hopefully one day it will become Federal law and we can sponsor our partners wherever they reside. There are seven “nations” in the world today that acknowledge marriage including Massachusetts and California. The right to marry should be a fundamental right and certainly is embodied in what is meant by “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Neither of the Presidential candidates sanction marriage. Nor did Hillary (or Bill) Clinton. Certainly Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon showed the world love and endurance for 55 years. And as more “nations” legalize marriage let these two women’s love be a shining beacon. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is one of the most courageous and forward thinking politicians we have today. The words he read for Del and Phyllis about marriage express that it is something that should be carefully considered. For sure this is what these two lesbian pioneers did and they waited over two generations for the right to legally marry.
Palin for President? OMG!
There wouldn't be much point in spotlighting women in the media if a few moments weren't spent on Sarah Palin, much as I dislike having to do it. The woman N.O.W will not endorse, the woman that is a Vice Presidential candidate to a Presidential candidate that will slash all federal spending except to veterans and troops overseas. The woman who said " bet they're sorry now" to the Democrats for NOT choosing a woman, i.e. Hillary Clinton.
This election was so clearly Hillary Clintons' but maybe the goofuses in the Republican party headquarters who couldn't read the signals correctly put just any woman on the ticket. Hillary Clinton was often the brunt of jokes about her gender, and Sarah Palin is no different. But while the arguments leveled by Clinton had foresight, Palin seems to be winging it alone, hit or miss, mostly miss on a variety of topics that makes it clear that any old woman isn't the same as someone who knows what she is doing. A Christian right candidate with a ready made constituency that opposes Roe Wade, evolution and stem cell research is the last thing we need. And if the senior McCain were to pass on, "bet we'll be sorry now".
These positions were expressed by Palin in speeches during the past few years:
- Rejected sympathy for Down's Syndrome son, as gift from God. (Aug 2008)
- Opposes embryonic stem cell research. (Aug 2008)
- Only exception for abortion is if mother's life would end. (Jul 2006)
- Opposes explicit sex-education programs. (Jul 2006
- $7 billion savings plan for education & transportation. (Dec 2007)
- Marriage only be between and man and a woman. (Nov 2006)
- No spousal benefits for same-sex couples. (Jul 2006)
- Teach creationism alongside evolution in schools. (Aug 2008)
- Pledge of Allegiance with 'Under God' is good enough. (Jul 2006)
- Global warming affects Alaska, but is not man-made. (Aug 2008)
- Hunts as much as she can; freezer-full of wild game. (Aug 2008)
- Health care must be market-and business-driven. (Jan 2008)
- Visiting injured soldiers in Germany was trip of a lifetime. (Sep 2008)
- Energy is a foundation of national security. (Sep 2008)
- Miss Congeniality in statewide beauty pageant in 1984. (Aug 2008)
By far the biggest blunder is illustrated in the latest edition of The New Yorker: since Russia is within a bird's eye view of Alaska Palin feels she has qualified foreign policy experience. This may only amount to cooperating on trading missions across the border - such as exchanging wild game or whatever but the claim will land her in the Idiot Hall of Fame. Too bad she is a woman. It makes it worse. It may be true that dumb politicians resonate with voters such as George Bush Jr, and maybe its just a ploy to play dumb. But stupid is as stupid does.
Let's not forget George Jr reading a book upside down at a school for young children, or appearing on camera like a deer in highlights when told about the WTC on September 11th.
There is something remarkably similar about the recent utterances of Sarah Palin. Aren't they enough of a red flag? No wonder Obama wants to target funding for early education.
Katie Couric's soon to be legendary scoop with the "executive of" the state of Alaska reveals a riled up often incoherent and bumbling fool at work.
I sincerely feel for Sarah Palin, I truly do because she is doing the best she can, the best she thinks she can, though she could do far better if she were another person altogether, which she isn't.
Fifteen hundred women in Anchorage Alaska aren't particularly happy with the "executive of" and protested her nomination two hours after it was made, an event nowhere in the media. And remember the woman mysteriously escorted out during the nomination?
Truly women don't vote for a woman just because she is a woman. Are we learning yet? At least Sarah Palin should know something more about politics than being a poor Hillary imitation for Vietnam war veteran John McCain.
Tilda Swinton, Isaac Julien and Derek Jarman
On the closing day of San Francisco Pride, a day full of a grand parade through the streets of San Francisco one of the most brilliant films of the Frameline LGBT Film Festival, Derek screened to an audience at the Castro Theater. The artistic director of the festival Michael Lumpkin had wanted to show one of Jarman's films, which were impossible to find in a 35mm print in the USA. That is something to take note of since Derek Jarman and his films reminds us of a time in British filmmaking that no longer exists, a combination of the political, the artistic and, with a focus on gay sexuality in several complex films such as Sebastiane (1976) and Caravaggio (1986). Jarman served as production designer for Ken Russel's fascinating treatise on sexuality and the repressed clergy - The Devils. (1970). And without Jarman, Tilda Swinton said her industry career would never have taken off. She was asked to deliver a lecture on Jarman, a lecture that turned into a documentary film that she produced and wrote and which was beautifully directed by Isaac Julien.
Swinton is featured in the documentary, staring at times straight into the camera as she did in Sally Potter's Orlando. "Here I am, and this is what I believe. So what do you think? Her and Julien's appearance in the film personalizes it and is never out of place. It allows for the material to update, and for the memorial to take place. And when we look at the images, we do miss Derek Jarman.
Jarman was productive at a time before Margaret Thatcher and while the lucrative funding the British Film Institute gave to artists to develop their own voice in cinema was intact. Looking at some of his work it is with melancholy that one notes that this kind of film is not being made, this kind of film is not screened at Frameline, for after all Frameline simply culls from what is out there and is a showcase of the latest in LGBT cinema. Jarman marched in gay parades, just as we did today and when diagnosed with HIV gave a voice to his illness. Recall the years when Pride parades were virtually non existent in the 80's. His last film Blue with a voice over on his illness set to a blue screen was made just before he died in 1994.
Derek is an outstanding collage of the work of Jarman, his films, music videos, and a lengthy interview with Colin McCabe in 1990 at his home Prospect Cottage in Dungeness which serves as a voice over to his images. His artistic sensibility is so incredibly rich and dynamic that it is impossible to not be inspired by his work and appreciate his contributions to cinema, art and set design. Swinton and Julien's homage hits home.
Barbara Hammer is the Reigning Lesbian Filmmaker Par Excellence
Of all the films at Frameline, an evening with experimental work is a night to remember. From a woman who learned how to make movies at San Francisco State. And when she went to school she saw the films of only one woman: Maya Deren: the filmmaker that chose to make experimental, personal films.
Its time to wash away the made for TV scripts, the lesbian love that is unrequited, and the women who kills themselves because they can not have the one they love. There were several films this year at Frameline. Are we learning yet? Are these retrograde themes harking back to Sandy Dennis being felled by a tree in The Fox or Susannah York being forced to eat Beril Reid's cigar in The Killing of Sister George a metaphor for something that is happening to lesbian identity today? Even if so, Barbara makes us remember that its beautiful to be a lesbian at any age, and that the experimental format is a powerful tool of expression.
Here is a film that uses metaphor, to show an incredible joy for life despite a life threatening experience at the risk of alienating the public. "How has this film been received?", asked someone in the audience. "I don't know, you are the first audience", answered Barbara. As one of the first spectators I can only ask, what would the world be without Barbara Hammer? She has brought to lesbian filmmaking a uniqueness, a passion, a daring challenge to see and experience, sit and squirm , feel uncomfortable and provoked, and afterwards feel that you have gone through an ordeal into visionary and auditory realms that have made you richer for the experience. The choice of music by Meredith Monk, another incredible veteran artist , empowered the film and sent it soaring. "I always wanted to ride a horse", says Barbara, who took to the saddle faced with the acknowledgement that life is precious and can be cut short, so you better darn well enjoy all you can.
4th Queer Women of Color Film Festival in San Francisco
There is a trained staff of volunteers that usher in the block long length of women, and if you are on time there is no problem with a seat. The tradition of the festival is to serve food, also free, to make everyone feel at home. The feedback that each filmmaker gets from her film is enough to keep the images rolling for a long time, for the crowd is generous and knows what it likes.
To celebrate this event, a representative of Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke about how the festival is appreciated and honored by the City of San Francisco. With the new passage of legalized marriage in California and a conservative backlash already in gear to try to defeat the measure in November, strong community action is underway to get people out to vote. According to the representative, "let's get the measure passed, then worry about deconstructing the institution of marriage". Right on. Activism is a key component to the Queer Women of Color Festival (QWOCMAP), with leaflets in the vestibule for signatures to Mayor Newsom, "I support having a city owned Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center in San Francisco", and to Governor Schwarzenegger, " I recently attended the QWOCMAP Film Festival that was part of the Unisted States of Asian America Festival and National Queer Arts Festival". In California, public support of the arts is 3 cents per person, whereas the national average is one dollar.
This year Pratibha Parmar was the special invited guest to the festival, a British Indian who was born in Kenya and grew up in London in a working class neighborhood. She never went to film school but has made several films, one of which won the public prize for the best film at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival - Khush, a film about gay and lesbians in South Asia, and those interviewed came out for the first time . "Khush" means "ecstatic pleasure" in Urdu.
Parmar was interviewed by the award-winning journalist Helen Zia, author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. Two other films were shown in a retrospective of Parmar's work: Bhangra Jig and Wavelengths. The films are archived by Women Make Movies in New York, an organization that rents films to schools and universities. Parmar noted the quality of the films on video and is planning on a DVD release of her work in the near future. Of particular interest is Parmar's latest film Nina's Heavenly Delight which has won several top awards at festivals in Fresno, Tampa and the Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival in Paris. Parmar plans to spend more time in the Bay Area with her partner of 16 years.
Programs were divided into three themes this year in addition to the special Sunday screening "Sexually Subversive": "Kindred Spirits", films about family relations, and "Delectably Yours", a pageant of films on food.
Highlights of some of the films this year include: Labels Are Forever (Jinky de Rivera, 2008).The opening titles reads like the introduction to Star Wars in this humorous saga about 007 Secret Agent J. Wong. Wong is sent by her boss to investigate how labels are used by a group of women only to discover that the assignment is bogus.
Luna Han takes a look at The Cock: Lesbian Owned & Operated (2008).
Han was also the better half in One in a Million by Monifa Porter (2008) a playful journey into the twists and turns of a lesbian fertility rite. If you click here you can see the festival's secret agent on duty.
Renacimiento de una bruja (Zemaya, 2008) is a spiritual oddyssey by a woman with the earth and her ancestors.
Queering My Mother (Lourdes Rivas, 2007) tells the story of mother that polices her daughter too much especially when she has met that special woman. As the title suggests, the evolution of awareness by the filmmaker's mother is at stake, and she does it in style.
Jagadamba, Mother of the Universe (Amber Field, 2008) is about a young South Korean woman comes to terms with her adoption in the USA while also questioning celebrities such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie who have adopted children from developing nations to give them better lives. The evolution of the young woman is traced as she comes to terms with being a lesbian and also a martial artist.
In Too Much Plain (Caroline Le, 2008) A young woman tries to figure out what's wrong with all her girlfriends with her best friend, only to discover that its because she wants to be more than best friends with her confidant.
A handful of the films were also shown at the Frameline32 LGBT Film Festival June 19-29 in a section called "Magical Promise", which is precisely what you can say about so many gifted directors at QWOCMAP.
61st Cannes Film Festival
The 61st Cannes Film Festival ended on May 25 after a 10 day run, the festival which is one of the most prestigious and which is known for screening artistic world class films. What was really refreshing about this years Cannes was the choice of the jury president, Mr. Sean Pean, a man who has worked hard for films with social issues and who has really come into his own. Other jury members included Natalie Portman and Alfonso Cuaron.
The Palme d'Or this year when to The Class by Laurent Cantet and was presented by Robert De Niro. This is the first time a French film won the top prize in 21 years. The film is about a teacher who tries to prepare a junior high school class in a rough neighborhood in Paris for the future, though the students challenge the way that he goes about it. The story is autobiographical and the teacher, François Bégaudeau, plays himself. The jury chose this film unanimously and Sean Penn said it is the young people of today who have the responsibility for the future of the planet.
Two veterans received the special Prize of the 61st Festival de Cannes the so-called ex-aequo awards.
Catherine Deneuve for A Christmas Tale by Arnaud DESPLECHIN also starring the French-Italian actress Chiara Mastroianni, the daughter of Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni.
And Clint EASTWOOD won for The Changeling, the story of a mother played by Angela Jolie whose kidnapped son is returned but who knows it is not her son.
The Award for the Best Director went to Nuri Bilge CEYLAN for Three Monkeys, a film that like its title deals with corruption in a family that doesn’t want to see hear or speak the truth.
At the press conference for the jury it was noted that the two acting awards went to films with social relevance:
Benicio Del Toro was awarded for his performance in Che, by Steven SODERBERGH, the story of Che Guevara, the Argentinean doctor that sailed to Cuba to help bring about the downfall of Batista together with Fidel Castro. Soderbergh understands that the length all of 267 minutes, may scare off the average audience and his hope is that it can be shown in installments.
Sandra Corveloni won the other award for her role in LINHA DE PASSE by Walter SALLES, a film about the hopeless conditions for four brothers in Sao Paolo who struggle to avoid falling into a life of crime. Corveloni plays their mother the housemaid Clueza,
Other veterans who have been awarded at Cannes previously were Jean-Pierre et Luc DARDENNE who won the Best Screenplay award for Lorna’s Silence the story of an Albanian woman who acquires Belgian citizenship by marrying a Russian Mafioso.
The feeling this year was that there was a lot of good films, and not enough prizes to reward all of the good work. This was not a year when a film like The Brown Bunny, by Bad Boy Vincent GALLO stood among the talent. And Sean Penn brought a quality to the festival that will make the 61st edition stand out for a while, with a French film at the top.
Broadcast on Movie Magazine International, San Francisco, May 26, 2008.