17th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival

The 17th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival, in its second and final week, runs from Friday through Thursday, November 14 through 20, at Chestnut Station, 830 N. Clark. Advance tickets can be purchased at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, between 10 am and 6 pm on weekdays, and between noon and 5 pm on Saturday; same-day tickets can be purchased at the venue box office starting a half hour before the first show of the day. Tickets are $7, with discount passes available. For more information call 773-384-5533 or the festival hot line at 312-409-5553.


The Marquesa . . . Portrait of a Dominatrix

Karen Young directed this hour-long documentary video from Canada, showing with Laurel Swenson’s Fistfull (1996) and Steven Clar’s Wacka Spewy (1995). (7:00)

Violet’s Visit

A 1995 Australian feature, directed by Richard Turner, about a gay man in Sydney whose eight-year relationship is disrupted when his 15-year-old daughter turns up unexpectedly and refuses to leave. (7:15)

Anything Boys Can Do

Fifteen “grrrl bands” on New York’s lower east side are documented in this 1996 feature by Ethan Minsker, showing with Lucia Davis’s Kings of New York, released the same year. (9:00)

Latin Boys Go to Hell

A feature modeled on Latino soap opera, set in and around Manhattan club culture; Ela Troyano directed. (9:15)


There Is No Name for This

An American documentary by Ming-Yuan S. Ma and Cianna Pamintuan Stewart that focuses on the experiences of Chinese and Chinese-American gays and lesbians. (1:00)


William E. Jones’s audacious and often compelling experimental essay film recounts his personal investigation into the life of a young gay porn star, Alan Lambert, who committed suicide at age 25 in Montreal. What’s most audacious is that Jones refuses to include porn footage–although many of Lambert’s films are described and discussed–thereby defying genre expectations and aiming at something more introspective. Sometimes Jones avoids certain tired conventions only to seize upon others (e.g., focusing at length on ocean waves to accompany ruminations on mortality), but the seriousness of this haunting meditation is never in question. (This is one of the last American experimental films to receive NEA funding, but contrary to rumor, the absense of porn footage had nothing to do with how it was funded.) (JR) (1:15)

Oy Gay

Three short works: Alessandra Ogren and Tai Uhlmann’s Bad Jews in My Kitchen (1996), about Jewish lesbians in San Francisco; Joe Balass’s Nana, George & Me, a Canadian film about two Iraqi Jews, one of them a gay man, the other Balas’s grandmother; and Dutch filmmaker Marlou van der Berge’s Love and the Laws (1995), which explores the dissension between Orthodox and gay Jews. (3:00)

Madchen in Uniform

Leontine Sagan’s remarkable film sees a lesbian relationship as the only available alternative to the authoritarian order as a boarding school for daughters of the Prussian military aristocracy becomes a microcosm of Germany, circa 1931. Based on a play by Christa Winsloe, performed by an all-woman cast, independently made, and cooperatively financed, this was one of the few genuine women’s films of the 30s. (DD) (3:15)

Stolen Glimpses

Knud Vesterskov directed this 1996 experimental video from Denmark, which was inspired by Danish writer Morti Vizki’s ideas about men’s relationships to one another. On the same program, Michael Brynntrup’s Loverfilm from Germany and John Maybury’s Genetron from the UK, both made in 1996.

Hide and Seek

See Critic’s Choice. (5:00)

Hercules in the American Underground, 1958-1965

A presentation of clips from Italian costume movies, with commentary by Jay Blotcher and William Comstock. (7:00)

Some Prefer Cake

A first feature by Heidi Arnesen about a lesbian comic and her straight best friend; with Kathleen Fontaine, Tara Howley, Desi del Valle, and Machiko Saito. (7:15)

The Investigator

Director Chris Oxley based this English feature on the true story of Caroline Meagher, a lesbian who served the British Royal Military Police as a special investigator for a dozen years. (9:30)

Defying Gravity

John F. Keitel’s American independent feature about a fraternity boy who becomes attracted to one of his best friends and starts flirting with the girlfriend of another. Keitel will attend the screening. (9:15)


You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men

Bestor Cram’s 1996 documentary feature about female-to-male transsexuals. (1:00)


The latest feature by Canadian filmmaker John Greyson (Lilies, Zero Patience) employs collage techniques as well as a narrative involving four men named Peter. Greyson will attend the screening. (1:15)


A 1996 documentary feature by Shawn Hainsworth about a small-town community in the Philippines where gay men play highly active and visible roles. (3:00)

Viktor und Viktoria

An underemployed actress (Renate MŸller) takes over a fellow actor’s female-impersonation gig with sensational success–she’s a more convincing woman onstage than he is but has to portray a man offstage to maintain the deception. A man in the audience of one of her performances starts to fall for her without realizing she’s supposed to be a man pretending to be a woman–he just thinks she’s a woman. This 1933 German production makes the knockoff directed by Blake Edwards nearly 50 years later seem bold for not letting James Garner discover Julie Andrews’s true gender until he’s acknowledged that he’s attracted to the man he’s convinced she is. Some of the cinematography–long takes that reveal unexpectedly extensive sets and lighting and compositions that emphasize the texture of the actors’ costumes and the geometric choreography of the stage shows–is mildly interesting, but otherwise this musical comedy, directed by Reinhold SchŸnzel, is tiresome. (LA) (3:15)

Lavender Limelight

Marc Mauceri’s documentary profiles seven lesbian filmmakers: Cheryl Dunye, Rose Troche, Jennie Livingston, Monika Treut, Maria Maggenti, Su Friedrich, and Heather MacDonald. On the same program, Emma Hindley’s English film Zero Budget (1996), which also surveys lesbian filmmakers in the U.S. (5:00)

The Agony and the Ecstasy

A program of six shorts. In Mark Summerville’s Testdrive (1996), a cross-dressing teenager takes a borrowed Mazda into the suburbs of Auckland. Andrew Porter’s Nobody I Know is about an adolescent who has yet to realize there’s no hanging onto childhood. Pamplona by Night, written and directed by Chicagoan Reid Schultz, is the story of an artist under pressure to prepare for a show when he discovers that the man who broke his heart in another country now lives nearby. Myke Zykoff’s Seven Virtues (1996) provides alternatives to the traditional virtues. The Debutantes (1996) by Bill Oliver is about a painter living in New York who returns to Georgia for his sister’s society debut. The dialogue-free Rid of It by Greg Sirota explores a man’s ambivalence about an opportunity to realize his fantasies. (5:15)

Peoria Babylon

Stephen Diller’s Chicago-made 1996 comedy about the scheming owners of the only art gallery in Peoria, Illinois; with Ann Cusack and David Drake. (7:00 and 9:30)

Didn’t Do It for Love

Eva Norvind, a Norway-born, New York-based former dominatrix also known as Ava Taurel, opens this documentary by wondering whether any truths about her will really make it in. But she didn’t need to worry–filmmaker Monika Treut appreciates both Eva’s exhibitionism and her self-awareness. Even as she accuses her mother of treating her insensitively when she was a young girl, Eva expresses sadness about their shared past without indulging in regret about the shape her life has taken since. Her father, brother, and several friends and colleagues also appear in the movie, demonstrating unambiguously supportive relationships with her. Treut collages posters and clips from Eva’s several movies made in Mexico in the early 60s and includes a scene in which she consults with a client to determine which of her employees is best suited for his particular fantasy. A stagy yet authentic sexual scenario shows her carefully threatening a bound woman with a knife, developing our understanding of her feelings about consensual torture far beyond an earlier scene of sexualized horseplay with an old friend. Treut’s portrait reveals an intelligent, compassionate woman’s ongoing struggle with personal integrity, showing how sensationalism can hide depth as easily as it hides shallowness. (LA) (7:15)

The Delta

Writer-director Ira Sachs’s sensitive and affecting 1996 feature about the unconventional relationship between a well-to-do white teenager and a Vietnamese man in the deep south. Well worth checking out. (JR) (9:15)


Bugis Street

A 1994 feature from Singapore, set in the mid-60s, about a young woman growing up in a community of drag queens; Yon Fan directed. (7:00)

Woman Make Movies Retrospective

Debra Zimmerman introduces six short works: Barbara Hammer’s Dyketactics (1974), Susana Munoz’s Susana (1980), Betsan Evans Morris’s Came Out, It Rained, Went Back Again (1991), Cecilia Barriga’s Meeting of Two Queens (1991), Cheryl Farthing’s Rosebud (1992), and Cheryl Dunye’s Greetings From Africa (1994). (7:15)

Shooting Porn

Ronnie Larsen’s 1996 documentary feature about the shooting of two very different gay porn films by Chi Chi La Rue and Gino Colbert. (9:00)


A 1996 experimental narrative by Abigail Child. On the same program, LeAnn Erickson’s Essential Things and Katrina Fullman’s I Touched Gloria. (9:15)


Stage Door

Hu Du Men, the Cantonese title of this entertaining 1996 film from Hong Kong, is an opera term for the imaginary line separating the stage from backstage, and it becomes emblematic of the various crossovers in the story. Adapted by Raymond To Kwow-wai from his own play, it concerns the producer and star of a Cantonese opera company (Josephine Siao) who’s about to abandon her career to emigrate to Australia with her husband and adopted daughter. (As in many recent Hong Kong films, anticipation of the colony’s return to the mainland is a major theme here.) The adopted daughter is showing lesbian tendencies, and the heroine, a specialist in male roles, is experiencing some gender confusion of her own. Director Shu Kei is a central figure in the Hong Kong film scene, a novelist, a programmer, the country’s most outspoken film critic, and a prolific screenwriter who’s worked for the likes of Ann Hui, Yim Ho, and John Woo; he navigates genre and gender alike with wit and aplomb. (JR) (7:00)

The Way of All Flesh

Nine short works from the U.S. and Australia. (7:15)

Crocodile Tears

A gay playwright with HIV (Savage Love columnist Dan Savage in his screen debut) makes a pact with the devil in exchange for a cure. Ann Coppel directed this 1996 feature; Ted Sod adapted his own play. (9:00)

Big Laughs for Boys and Girls

Nine short works from the U.S. and Canada. (9:15)



A first feature by Raquel Cecilia Harrington, about the growing attraction between a Miami film professor and one of her students. (7:00)

After the Bath

Video maker John Greyson’s 1995 Canadian documentary about a 1993 confrontation between gay men and police authorities in London, Ontario. On the same program, Greyson’s 1991 musical satire, The Making of “Monsters.” (7:15)

Isle of Lesbos

Jeff B. Harmon directed this 1996 satire in the John Waters tradition, in which a newlywed bride from Bumfuck, Arkansas, is magically transported to the title locale. (9:30)

It’s a Queer World After All

Eleven short works from the U.S. and France. (9:15)


My Life in Pink

Belgian filmmaker Alain Berliner’s first feature, La vie en rose, was one of the most popular films shown at the Cannes film festival this year, a delightful comedy about a six-year-old boy who decides he wants to be a girl and the various kinds of consternation this produces in his family and community. Significantly, Berliner cites both Tim Burton and Ken Loach as influences; the Burton input is most apparent in the boy’s favorite TV show, a tacky, surreal fantasy with a Barbie-doll heroine that occasionally suggests Pee-wee’s Playhouse, as well as the Burton spin-off feature, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Rich in understanding and insight, this is the best Belgian filmmaking I’ve seen since Chantal Akerman’s, and it’s a good deal more accessible. (JR) (7:00)

Dyke Camp

Five short works from the U.S. and Canada. (7:15)

Slaves to the Underground

Most of this 1996 story about Shelly–a Seattle guitarist who questions her relationship with Suzy, her band’s front woman, after running into Jimmy, an old boyfriend–glorifies her heterosexual relationship over her homosexual one, though a plot strand about her having been raped by another man seems intended to contradict this. Writer Bill Cody and director Kristine Peterson don’t seem to know what they want to say about relationships, if they want to say anything at all, though they’re very interested in–and at times very successful at–examining the connection between sex and power. Some of the script’s attempts to show how Jimmy’s treatment of Shelly turns from supportive to patronizing are too pointed and silly, as are some scenes meant to show that Suzy’s domination of Shelly is just as destructive. Molly Gross is convincingly passive-aggressive as Shelly, and Jason Bortz struggles with the role of Jimmy, managing to come out on top in some challenging scenes. But Marisa Ryan (Love Always) doesn’t do much with the stereotyped Suzy except project a big personality. The band’s intensely sincere songs were written by Betty Carmellini and Jenni McElrath and are performed in part by the actors. (LA) (9:30)

Intimate Relations

Three short works from the U.S. (9:15)

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Hide and Seek film still.