If you’re in Toronto this weekend and have not seen Patricia Rozema’s 1987 film “I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing,” Saturday afternoon is your chance to not only see the film but pick up the accompanying new book from Arsenal Pulp’s fantastic Queer Film Classics series.
“Mermaids” — widely regarded as one of the best Canadian films of all time, LGBT or otherwise — tells the story of Polly Vandersma (Sheila McCarthy), an introverted young woman who loves taking photos more than anything, even if no one has ever seen her work. But then she begins working for Gabrielle (Paule Baillargeon), a French-Canadian woman who runs an art gallery in Toronto, and who Polly grows to worship. What develops from there is a complex study of characters that’s as funny as it is thought provoking.
The book — written by scholar Julia Mendenhall — takes on the film and places it in the context of Rozema’s life experience and work, the production and reception history of the film, and the development of queer theory. It makes for a fascinating, thorough and very entertaining take on a film that unquestionably should be considered a “queer film classic.”
The book will launch in Toronto this weekend at the TIFF Bell Lightbox at 1pm on Saturday. Check out Queer Film Classics’ Facebook page for more info on the series (other titles include takes on “Paris is Burning,” “Death in Venice,” “Stranger On a Train,” “Law of Desire” and “Gods and Monsters”).