This year hasn’t been a great one for cineastes with a queer eye, with few good films and not much eye candy either.
Die, Mommie, Die! opened the Mardi Gras Film Festival with Charles Busch’s camp tribute to his beloved Joan Crawford. Francis Veber, famous for the La Cage Aux Folles, followed up The Closet with Tais Toi!, a hilarious buddy movie that saw Gerard Depardieu and the hard-boiled Jean Reno dress in drag. We also had Connie And Carla, starring Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette as all-singing-all-dancing drag queens -“ definitely not Some Like it Hot.
This year seemed to be the year of the gay biopic/historical epic as nearly all the festivals seemed to have scheduled at least one. Mardi Gras had A World Of Love which looked at the early career of Pier Paolo Pasolini, The Life And Times Of Count Luchino Visconti as well as The Legend Of Leigh Bowery, a Charles Atlas-directed biopic about the gay Australian performance artist. The German festival had Fassbinder In Hollywood and the Spanish covered Federico Garcia Lorca’s life in La Luz Prodigiosa. The year was rounded out with a sanitised Cole Porter in De-Lovely as well as the historical epics Proteus and Stage Beauty.
Gay and lesbian characters
Queer moments and queer characters were definitely thin on the ground. Charlize Theron grabbed fame, an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her role as the lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster; Gina Gershon toyed with girls as a punk rocker in Prey For Rock And Roll and girls took a lesbian road trip in the Argentinian film Suddenly. Facing Window, from Turkish-born Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek, told a story of gay love and loss during WWII. Garden focused on survival amongst rent boys and trannies in Tel Aviv and A Little Bit Of Freedom looked at the trials of love between two 16-year-old boys from different ethnic groups in Hamburg. American Eunuchs exposed American men who cut off their balls by choice; Stepford Wives, The Barbarian Invasions and the Australian films Somersault and Tom White all had gay characters, although somewhat clich?
Bernardo Bertolucci took us back to the Paris student riots in 1968 and the m?ge ?rois that was The Dreamers. Alexander Sokurov’s Father And Son revealed the homoerotic relationship between fathers and sons and Matthew Barney took a very queer look at the scrotal muscle as well as sex, myth, death, redemption and rebirth in The Cremaster Cycle. We got to see Gael Garc?Bernal play a diminutive but muscular Ernesto Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries and Tobey Maguire flashed across the screen, this time revealing a lot less in his latex suit, in Spider-Man 2.
Gay directors, especially Americans, have had a bumper year in 2004. Gus Van Sant had two films on the big screen: Elephant, his award-winning reprise of the Columbine High School massacre, as well as his buddy tribute film Gerry. Safe, an early film from Todd Haynes, who directed Velvet Goldmine and Far From Heaven, looked at an allegory of life in an era of HIV/AIDS and Joel Schumacher took on the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom Of The Opera. And our very own Adam Elliot stepped up and won an Oscar for his animated classic Harvie Krumpet.