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September 21 - December 14, 2005

LBGT Film Series

This new film series examines post-Stonewall representations of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender culture in cinema.

This program is co-presented with The Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS), the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA), and the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus (HGLC).

For more information about the 2005 Harvard LBGT Film Series, contact Timothy Patrick McCarthy at 617-495-9065.


September 21 (Wednesday) 7pm

The Celluloid Closet

Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
US, 1996,  B&W and Color, 102 min.

Based on Vito Russo's pioneering history, The Celluloid Closet is a sexy, funny, infuriating, and instructive overview of one hundred years of largely inadequate depictions of homosexuals in Hollywood movies.  Clips from 120 films are lucidly and wittily presented, accompanied by sometimes sardonic and often movingly personal commentary from sympathetic Hollywood insiders and skeptical gay spectators.

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September 21 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Midnight Cowboy

Directed by John Schlesinger
US, 1969, B&W and Color, 113 min.
With Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman, Brenda Vaccaro

The only X-rated film to win a Best Picture Oscar, Midnight Cowboy stars Jon Voight as Joe Buck, a handsome, naïve Texan who moves to New York City with hopes of becoming a male prostitute. When life in the city proves to be harder than Buck expected, he forms a close relationship with street-smart con man Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman).  The two derelict men struggle to survive in the rough and seedy parts of the city, until the film's unforgettable emotional ending takes them on the road to Florida.

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October 5 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Paris Is Burning

Directed by Jennie Livingston
US, 1990, Color, 71 min.

Paris is Burning documents the "ball" subculture of 1980s Harlem, made up of communities of marginalized gay black and Latino men who dressed up (in costumes ranging from women in couture fashion to executives in business suits), vogued (long before Madonna), and competed for titles and trophies in various categories.  Combining footage from balls with interviews with their participants, Paris is Burning juxtaposes the glitz and pride of competition with the harsh reality of lives spent trying to survive poverty and the disapproval of much of society.  Though humorous and entertaining, the film does not shy away from the violence, racial prejudice, and homophobia encountered outside the balls.

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October 5 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Tongues Untied

Directed by Marlon Riggs
US, 1990, Color, 55 min. 

An intensely personal documentary, Tongues Untied uses poetry, archival footage, interviews, storytelling, singing, voguing, and comic sketches to highlight the struggles of being both black and gay.  Though Tongues Untied takes risks as it challenges the assumptions of its audience, it makes its points using intelligence, humor, and emotion.  Having to face both racism and homophobia presents a particular hardship for gay black men, and with this film Riggs encourages and inspires these men to speak out and be heard.

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October 12 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Hairspray

Directed by John Waters
US, 1988, Color, 92 min.
With Ricki Lake, Divine, Debbie Harry

John Waters's most accessible film is an irresistible social satire and gentle parody on the "message movie," with 1960s Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad (Lake) fighting for the desegregation of "The Corny Collins Show" television dance program. Beehive-hairdos and colorful retro clothing combine with familiar faces (Divine and Jerry Stiller as Tracy's parents, plus Debbie Harry, Bono, Ruth Brown, and Pia Zadora) and even a cameo by Waters himself (as an unbalanced psychologist) to create hilarious results.  The wonderful soundtrack combines classic and obscure oldies that are paired with forgotten dances of the era such as "The Madison" and "The Roach."

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October 19 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Longtime Companion

Directed by Norman René
US, 1990, Color, 99 min.
With Campbell Scott, Mary-Louise Parker, Bruce Davison

Taking its title from the euphemistic term for lover often used in newspaper obituaries, Longtime Companion follows the everyday lives of a group of gay men living in New York City during the 1980s.  When the film begins, at the start of the 1980s, many gay men are dying from a nameless mystery disease.  By film and decade's end, AIDS finally has a name, and it has profoundly changed the lives of every member of the group.  Moving and beautifully acted, Longtime Companion was one of the first films to deal with AIDS in a compassionate and intelligent way.

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October 26 (Wednesday) 9 pm

The Times of Harvey Milk

Directed by Rob Epstein
US, 1984, Color, 90 min. 

The Times of Harvey Milk is an engrossing and poignant documentary about the life and death of the charming and outspoken activist Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay politician in America.  In 1978, about a year after Milk was elected to office in San Francisco, both Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by fellow politician Dan White. Their murders sparked both a candlelight vigil (on the night of their deaths) and citywide riots (after White's trial, as a response to the lenient sentence he received).  By turns sad and funny, The Times of Harvey Milk won the Best Documentary Oscar in 1985.

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November 16 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

But I'm A Cheerleader

Directed by Jamie Babbit
US, 1999, Color, 85 min.
With Natasha Lyonne, Cathy Moriarty, RuPaul

Spirited, blonde, and popular high-school cheerleader Megan (Lyonne) is suspected by her ultra-conservative parents of being a lesbian, and is placed in the care of the staff at True Directions, a camp that attempts to turn gay teenagers straight. As Megan takes lessons in stereotypically gender-specific activities (housecleaning, child-rearing) she begins to fall in love with a fellow female camper. Though But I'm A Cheerleader delves deep into satire - even casting RuPaul as one of the head (male) counselors–the comedy is tinged with tenderness and romance.

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November 30 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Boys Don't Cry

Directed by Kimberly Peirce
US, 1999, Color, 118 min.
With Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard

In Boys Don't Cry, Brandon Teena (Swank in a compelling, Oscar-winning performance) is a young woman who lives her life as a young man.  When Brandon moves from Lincoln, Nebraska to the small town of Falls City, he falls in with a rough crowd and finds love with beautiful Lana (Sevigny) and trouble with thuggish ex-cons John (Sarsgaard) and Tom (Brendan Sexton III).  The eventual revelation of Brandon's secret precipitates violence and tragedy, and the emotional conclusion is made even more powerful by the fact that the film is based on real-life events.

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December 7 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

Six Degrees of Separation

Directed by Fred Schepisi
US, 1993, Color, 112 min.
With Will Smith, Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing

A screen adaptation by John Guare of his own stage hit, Six Degrees of Separation stars Will Smith as a good-looking and charming conman who pretends to be Sidney Poiter's son. A wealthy New York couple (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing reprising her stage role) is so persuaded by Smith's ploy that they invite him into their household - until tragedy strikes. This satire was based on real-life events, and the film features magnificent shots of the city as well as cameo appearances by many prominent New Yorkers.

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December 14 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

The Wedding Banquet

Directed by Ang Lee
Taiwan/US, 1993, Color, 108 min.
Winston Chao, May Chin, Mitchell Lichtenstein
Mandarin/English with English subtitles

Long before his big-budget spectacles, Ang Lee came to the attention of international audiences with this charmingly humorous and humanist study of tolerance. In The Wedding Banquet, Lee focuses on the plight of Wai-Tung, a successful gay Taiwanese businessman who lives a relatively uncomplicated life in New York City with his partner. As a result of his mother's scheming and the couple's desire to hide their relationship, the closeted young man decides to marry a woman from Shanghai in need of a Green Card. With the announcement of the impending nuptials, Wai-Tung's parents catch the first plane to the Big Apple, and a hilarious farce of cultural clashes ensues.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700