SILENT AND PRE-CODE FILMS
Our first season takes a closer look at silent films. Before the era of sound, cinema had been a very exciting new art form, where rules and regulations were yet to be set down. A number of non conventional film-makers made their mark in silent cinema, and many radical stories of same-sex love found their way onto the screens. The gay and lesbian tales of silent cinema showed a great diversity of focus: from riotous comedies of gender mischief, to heart-drenching dramas of stranded lovers, to films that deal with specific issues such as homosexuality in prisons, gay people’s vulnerability to blackmail, or the lure of a ‘normal’ life.
The nineteen thirties saw, apart from the advent of sound, two cataclysmic events which drove gay film-making underground: the setting up of the ‘Hays’ Film Censorship Code in the USA, and the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany. It was the end of an extraordinary flourishing of lesbian and gay art and activism, which unfortunately has not been sufficiently celebrated. To address that, we are showing you a selection of ten sessions with the very best of early LGBT cinema. You will be astounded by these films - by their honesty and by their sophistication, and also by their determination to make gay experience visible. And that’s before you even consider the art-direction! Some of these early films are in fact beautiful and provocative visual essays, pushing the boundaries of what a camera and an editing table can do.
THE GAY FILMS OF SILENT CINEMA