27 February - 3 April 204
TRANSGENDER CINEMA SERIES: NOBODY’S PERFECT?
Remarkably, one of the most famous gags in the history of American and international comedy —perhaps the best punchline ever written— was at the expense of one of the biggest taboos of the twentieth century: transsexualism or, simply, transvestism. It wasn´t until John Hurt starred in The Naked Civil Servant (1975), based on the life of Quentin Crisp, that public cross-dressing was addressed openly, although Charley´s Aunt was of lasting influence, along with the fashion of the Mrs Doubtfires, Tootsies and Grandma Klumps.
Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond were neither more chauvinistic nor more reactionary than others of their own milieu when, in 1959, they came up with the idea for this tour de force on the love boat between Joe E. Brown and Jack Lemmon. `Nobody’s perfect,´ declared the actor, popularly known as `Big Mouth.´ Or, perhaps, someone is. Virginia Wolf found that aesthetic, sensual perfection in the polysexuality of her Orlando, dedicated to her lover Vita Sackville-West. And Sally Potter —director of the vanguard at the time— found in Tilda Swinton the perfect accomplice in that change of sex over time. And the film was the one chosen by the public in the 1993 edition of Cineuropa.
As did, drawing on pure mythology, Bertrand Bonello —a filmmaker worthy of his own film season, with enough curiosity and wisdom to explore sex outside of convention, known here for his latest film, House of Tolerance— who rescues the figure of Tiresias, the androgynous blind soothsayer, channelling him towards one of his fascinating immersions in passion (which is also —of course— blind).
Neil Jordan wrote and directed two —almost interlinked— of the most powerful blind passions in late-twentieth-century cinema: one was Mona Lisa and the other The Crying Game, with the IRA activist who walks away from everything for a trainee hairdresser so in need of protection, so iconic, in that sequence by Jaye Davison: a nude scene, this time absolutely required by the script, which today would lose its cathartic effect because it would be gelded by spoilers.
Years later, Jordan would prove his devotion to the issue of transgender by awarding Cillian Murphy the role of a lifetime in Breakfast at Pluto, the Irishmans last major film as director. But even more than in Neil Jordan, transsexuality is central to the creativity of João Paulo Rodrigues. And his Morrer como un homem —a hit at Cineuropa in 2011— is an unaffected landmark of poetic anguish.
To counterbalance Wilder and Diamond, and their idea of transgender imperfection, this season also includes Madame Satã by Brazilian Karim Aïnouz, with actor Lázaro Ramos as a queen who is more tropical than Elizabethan. More princess than queen is the little girl in the body of a little boy in Ma vie en rose, a work of fundamental tenderness by Alain Berliner, who won the Golden Globe in 1997 and advanced the transgender genre for children (see Pelo malo [Good Hair in English]).
And just to ruffle things (`like good hair´) up a bit, we are offering two versions of Victor Victoria. All of you became familiar with Reinhold Schünzel´s original script in 1982, when Blake Edwards offered us one of his last great comedies, starring Julie Andrews as a woman posing as male singer who, in turn, poses as a woman. The film won the Oscar for Best Original Score (by Henry Mancini) and —for the first time— we´ll have the opportunity to enjoy Edwards´ sensational mix-up with all the songs subtitled, courtesy of our indefatigable Dani Gascó.
But the fact is that Hollywood´s Victor Victoria was but a remake of a remarkable 1993 German film, the screening of which fulfills one of our dreams, revealing thus another unreleased surprise in this season that is so given to them.
27 February Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)
28 February The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992)
6 March Victor Victoria (Blake Edwards, 1982)
7 March Viktor und Viktoria (Reinhald Schünzel, 1933)
13 March Breakfast on Pluto (Neil Jordan, 2005)
14 March Morrer como um homem (João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
20 March Madame Satã (Karim Aïnouz, 2002)
21 March Tiresia (Bertrand Bonello, 2003)
27 March Ma vie en rose (Alain Berliner, 1997)
28 March Boys don´t cry (Kimberly Peirce, 1999)
3 April The Naked Servant (Jack Gold, 1975)