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Film Still: “Poison”

Film Still: "Poison"

Todd Haynes’ essential “Poison” is coming back to the big screen for a week-long run at the IFC Center next month. Can you think of a better moment to revive this classic of American independent cinema?

Back when I was finishing up my time at UCLA, it may very well have been this 1991 LA Times article about Todd Haynes and the film that not only introduced me to the director but also made me crave a chance to see the movie. The LAT piece was printed ahead of an anticipated campus screening of the movie (and in the wake of a right wing press conference about the film) as anti-gay conservatives called for the firing of NEA chief John Frohnmayer for the organization’s funding of the film.

Today, I was wondering if folks remember or realize that “Poison” was wrapped in such controversy (making it that much more compelling for college kids)? The climate in which the film was made and released is still so distinct for me.

It’s interesting to note that the Sundance Film Festival was a bit sheepish about its own support of “Poison”. As the LA Times reported, “The festival first declined to permit release of photos of Haynes receiving his award at a podium prominently decorated with Sundance logos. Later, the festival issued a statement saying it ‘strongly supports filmmakers’ freedom of expression and firmly stands behind the (NEA) support of Todd Haynes’…like all films, some people may not like ‘Poison.’ But that is not at issue here. The ability to express an independent vision through film is the basis of the Sundance program. The Sundance Film Festival will continue to be a place where these visions can be explored.'”

Todd Haynes will be at IFC Center on November 11th to talk about the film. See you there?

Film stills courtesy IFC Center/Zeitgeist Films

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