A Conversation With Sean Mathias and Martin Sherman of "Bent", Part II
by Brandon Judell
[Read the first part of Brandon Judell’s conversation with writer Martin
Sherman and director Sean Mathias of “Bent“]
iW: You say you love American audiences, Mr. Sherman, but you left our
shores for those of Great Britain and do all your work there. Is it because
you have lots of British romances or is it just because of your artistic
Sherman: Maybe I should say I love American film audiences. I don’t think
it’s true of theatre. But then theatre is not seemingly indigenous to
America the way that film is. It is to England. When I moved to England, I
wasn’t writing films. There is a difference.
It’s very hard to explain why I moved to England other then I loved it, and
I felt comfortable there which is very easy to do if you’re not English.
It’s the same in that the Brits absolutely love coming to America. But
there wasn’t a single compelling reason for me. Now that many years have
gone by, I see that instinctively I made a very good choice because I have
been able to flourish there in a way that I don’t think I could have done
here. But I didn’t LEAVE because LEAVING has a kind of negative
connotation. I just relocated some place else. I didn’t do that because of
anything negative about America. I wasn’t saying, “I’m disgusted. I’m
getting out.” Not at all. Quite the contrary.
Mathias: He fell in love with England.
Sherman: I fell in love with England.
iW: But other gay artists have also left America like David Leavitt, Gore
Vidal, Edmund White . . . . Do you feel less prejudice over there? Or does
it have nothing to do with gay acceptance?
Sherman: The things about America and England are always interesting. In
some areas, there’s more prejudice one place and in some areas there’s more
in the other place. It’s just a great balancing act.
Mathias: I think it’s the duty of the artist to run away from home. I mean
I think you have to go far afield to expand and to discover. And I think
that writers and painters have done that more than anybody throughout
history, gay or otherwise.
Sherman: It opens you up. I can see things in my work that have been so
broadened because I live some place else, but I am American. That’s
undeniable so it’s very . . . . Sean will always to some degree be Welsh.
Mathias: I just moved to Capetown which is on the tip of Africa miles from
any civilization. (Laughs). I can’t live there the whole time but something
has compelled me to go further so I can go on discovering. It’s quite hard
as well. It’s not just a glamorous thing. It’s quite a hard thing to do to
move to other places but it challenges one. I think one should go further.
Sherman: All the people you’ve mentioned still nourish their roots as well
as being some place else. David Leavitt and Gore Vidal still have some kind
of a life in America as well as abroad.
iW: What’s up next for you both?
Sherman: I’ve taken a few months off because I was doing like 5 things at
once, and I just wanted to just lay low for a little bit. So I’m not quite
sure. I just finished a screenplay based on a Israeli novel. And beyond
that, I think I’m shortly about to emerge. I haven’t decided on what.
Mathias: I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. I’m in a state of flux. I’ve
got no easy answer to that I’m afraid.
iW: What about the project you’re said to be working on, your second
Mathias: If I say it’s not ready to shoot, the producers will kill me, but
I can’t say it is because I haven’t cast it. I’ve very passionately been
trying to do it next. It’s been a very bizarre thing. There’s one
particular role that very, very few actresses can play. It has tremendous
demands in it. The actresses that have wanted to do it for one reason or
another have not been available in our time frame. And I’ve put this whole
Well, also I cut “Bent”. This is a new version of “Bent” that I cut since
Cannes. I’ve been around the world with “Bent” to various festivals. I went
to Asia and opened the film in Japan last month. So I’ve done a lot of
nurturing with “Bent” which has been great do. I’ve also moved to another
country. Moved into a house there. I’ve had other things going on in my
life but I’ve been waiting to start shooting, and it hasn’t happened. I’m
just at the point where I realize it’s either going to fall in place in the
next month or I’m going to go on to another project. But I’m actually just
itching to start something new because “Bent” has been with me for a long
time, and it’s going to be great to say, “GOOD-BYE!!!!” To wave it off at
[Brandon Judell is the lead film critic for Critics Inc. on America Online
and a contributing editor to Detour Magazine. His new book is THE GAY QUOTE
BOOK (Dutton). He has also written for The Village Voice, The Advocate, and
Rodale’s Guide to Weight Loss.]