‘Pioneers of Queer Cinema’ celebrates LGBTQ cinematic achievements

The UCLA Film & Television Archive, IndieCollect and Outfest are proud to present “Pioneers of Queer Cinema,” a retrospective celebrating LGBTQ+ cinematic achievements from the last seven decades.

Over 12 nights, with 33 films presented, this curated feast of trailblazing celluloid will be illuminated by conversations with the visionary artists and storytellers who made them. Admission is free!

Ernest Hardy writes in his blog: “Pioneers of Queer Cinema is an attempt to recover some American queer films that are now little-known, and many rarely ever seen at all, and put them in conversation with a relative handful of works now deemed classics—with the latter group ranging from Kenneth Anger’s short Fireworks (1947) to some of the heady ‘90s fare that made up the movement film scholar and historian B. Ruby Rich dubbed “New Queer Cinema” in 1992.

“These are the building blocks that made possible Pose and the slew of queer characters and storylines on TV and across streaming platforms; that paved the way for Todd Haynes’ Carol (2015) and Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016). The shorts and feature films in this program, both narrative and documentary, are just a sliver of the works that were at the forefront of slowly shifting perceptions of and conversations about the queer community, for both queer and non-queer audiences alike.”

Queer Forty is proud to announce editor-in-chief Merryn Johns in conversation with writer-director Donna Deitch, the visionary behind the landmark lesbian classic Desert Hearts (1986). This session is on March 28 at 7:30pm. Register for tickets here.

Helen Shaver (L – as Vivian Bell), Patricia Charbonneau (R – as Cay Rivvers)

As Shayna Warner writes of Desert Hearts:

“Two lonely, complex women—Vivian, the cautious professor (Helen Shaver), and Cay, the impulsive ranch hand (Patricia Charbonneau)—fall in love against the dusty-pink, quickie-divorce backdrop of 1950s Reno, Nevada. Their clumsy, honest yearning asserts that queer women have always existed, and they’re just as emotionally compromised as they’ve ever been.

“An adaptation from Jane Rule’s 1964 novel, Desert of the Heart, director Donna Deitch’s Desert Hearts came into being amidst her relief and fascination with a queer female-centric story that didn’t find its emotional peak in “a bisexual love triangle,” or, more bleakly, suicide. Released five years before Thelma and Louise provoked controversy over its lesbian subtext, Deitch overtly explores female intimacy and the conflicting desires for love and safety in a dangerously unfriendly world.”

Lesbians of a certain age will remember the film as one which often awakened them to their sexual identity, or gave them hope that a gay life could be a good life, no matter the obstacles to true love. Deitch (b. 1945) is a tour-de-force and an engaging presence to hear speak live about how she envisaged, created, and brought this milestone of cinema into the world, forever changing cultural perceptions that lesbian love was doomed.

Pioneers of Queer Cinema is on now until March 28 at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum. For information and tickets go to: https://www.cinema.ucla.edu/events/2022/pioneers-of-queer-cinema

This article was originally published on our sister site, Queer Forty.

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