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With More Mainstream Acceptance, Is Queer Cinema in Trouble?

With More Mainstream Acceptance, Is Queer Cinema in Trouble?

I’ve often wondered whether the lack of political urgency among today’s filmmakers living in the age of Obama, rather than the infuriating Reagan-Bush 1980s, has hindered the boldness and fury that has often driven strong cinema.

When I recently spoke to Christine Vachon at NewFest, the veteran lesbian producer talked a little about how the AIDS crisis gave the new queer cinema movement momentum. “People were dying all around us and we were so young,” she said. “I think that a lot of filmmakers went to that extra place to get their stories out there, because they felt, if they didn’t, they would never be able to. And I think that informed a lot of those early movies.”

But Vachon was pretty mum on the subject of current LGBT films, preferring to talk about changes in the indie film sector, in general.

And without the AIDS crisis, the further mainstreaming of gay content and characters, and legalized gay marriage in New York, among other states, it raises the question of what or how a new queer cinema might look like. I’ve seen Dee Rees’ “Pariah,” which seems to me a rehash of old queer movie themes, and I’ve heard very good things about IFC’s upcoming queer film “Weekend” (pictured), but other than that, I’m not sure what is the face of contemporary LGBT film.

Gregg Goldstein’s recent Variety article “Gay films get new life on fest circuit” (paywalled) raised some interesting points about the new queer cinema scene.

While the article largely focuses on gay and lesbian film festivals and increasing pressure on festivals to pay rental fees to producers and distributors in the wake of diminishing DVD sales–a major financial concern for queer films–Goldstein also brings up the point that fest directors are worried about the future of their audience.

“What we’re finding is the importance of gay and lesbian cinema to a certain demographic looking for positive reinforcement–a post-40 crowd,” Philadelphia QFest artistic director Ray Murray told Variety. “Every year it seems to be getting older, and we’re not bringing in a lot of young people.”

Goldstein also suggests that just because the media has incorporated many gay characters and gay marriage is legal in New York, “there are still so many people in this country who discriminate against the LGBT community,” Outfest exec director Kirsten Schaffer said. “There’s still so much work to be done.”

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