THE DUBLIN FILM QLUB IS DELIGHTED TO PRESENT THIS SCREENING
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOUTH DUBLIN COUNTY COUNCIL, AS PART OF
DUBLIN SOCIAL INCLUSION WEEK 2014
Please note: this screening takes place on the fourth saturday or November, rather than our customary third saturday. We are back on the third saturday in December!
Gus Van Sant
MALA NOCHE (1986)
Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate
It is tempting to consider Gus Van Sant (b. 1952) a rare example of a director who has moved from no-budget arthouse to commercial filmmaking while retaining some independence of thought. Many people associate Van Sant with the box office success of the film Good Will Hunting (1997), a non-gay Oscar-fodder off-beat drama. But it would be more accurate to say that it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to distinguish between tributaries and mainstream, now that Sundance is synonymous with a ‘dysfunctional anti-hero’ subgenre that the mainstream also loves. Consider the reception of the Gus Van Sant-directed Milk (2008), the biopic of a gay activist, in recent memory.
But there was a time, not so long ago, when a story about gay hustlers such as My Own Private Idaho (1991), or a lesbian-feminist eccentricity such as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994), both directed by Van Sant, were too unsavoury to be digested by average audiences. Here at the Film Qlub we are less concerned with the needs of commercial cinema than with the evolution of LGBTQ filmmaking – we think that the simplest way of tracing that evolution is by looking at directors and the films they have been making. For example, Gus Van Sant, whose early work was part of a new historical moment.
In the late 1980s, the ‘new queer cinema’ wave demolished the pious portraits of wronged gays and lesbians, which had themselves replaced a gallery of homophobic grotesqueries in mainstream films of the decade. Queer cinema was unapologetic about LGBTQ content, unconcerned with political statements, and oblivious to the dominant 80s aesthetic of shinny new money. Reacting to it, queer cinema went back in time and hooked up with the film radicals of the 1960s and 70s, going for a fresh, improvised look, but substituting the ‘life is a long party’ attitude by a ‘we are all adrift’ message befitting post-AIDS-crisis trauma. What do you know? LGBTQ filmmaking became refreshing and exciting again. Gus Van Sant was one of the main catalysts of a movement which would become to prominence later with Jennie Livingston, Todd Haynes, Gregg Araki and others.
The film we have selected for our season, Mala Noche (1982), looked pretty weird when it came out. Off centre, speaking its own slippery dialect. Tough as a piece of hardware, scurrying as an undocumented migrant, sparkling as a kid with a cardboard box, hypnotic as a tune whistled to relieve boredom.
The first time you do something, it is likely to be a bit of a mess – but look at Van Sant’s first film, Mala Noche. The director is so confident, his work is so full-blown beautiful, that you’d think he was born like this.
Dublin Film Qlub 2014
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