Friday, 25 October 2013

Film News: It's No Biggie

This weekend sees the UK release of A Magnificent Haunting, the latest film by Italian-based Turkish-born director Ferzan Ozpetek. The publicity material from its distributor, Peccadillo, describes how its lead character, Pietro, encounters ghostly apparitions after moving into a new apartment and refers to the story as a "fantastical comedy that explores themes of love, friendship, and mortality". It makes no mention of the fact that Pietro is gay.
"It's just not that important, really," says Tom Abell, chairman of Peccadillo Pictures. "The sexuality of the main character is incidental to the story. Stranger By the Lake [which Peccadillo will release in the UK next year] is very much a gay film, whereas A Magnificent Haunting really isn't."
Whether a film's publicity campaign should explicitly refer to a leading character's homosexuality may seem a subtle question, but it represents a deeper point: asking whether advertising should emphasise difference or assume commonality is another way of asking whether gay people are still considered "other"...

There are even hints in the right direction in Hollywood's output. Gay characters still tend to be swishy clowns when they're best friends, preening queens when they're villains (Javier Bardem in Skyfall) or sainted martyrs on the rare occasions that they're the lead (presumably Cumberbatch as Turing). But there are some impressively so-what characterisations too, including Kieran Culkin's clued-up roommate in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, Tom Wilkinson's retired judge in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the dumb-jock brother in animated movie Paranorman. Lee Daniels has even declared his ambition to create a gay action-hero couple whose sexuality would be revealed at the film's end. (Personally I'm not sure how progressive it would be to watch a couple of closet-cases kick ass, but I suppose we'll have to see.)...

Liked this piece by Ben Walters for The Guardian.
Fagburn particularly liked the phrase "impressively so-what".

PS The Guardian online has also run this historical overview of British drama queens by Thomas Hescott, director of The Act and Tory Boyz.
Gay theatre is at a crossroads, apparently.

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