Topic

  • For my final project I am interested in analyzing foreign queer cinema and its political implications. I recently returned from Turkey, where the LGBTQ movement is very underground and the laws archaic. After being immersed within the political climate, hearing stories of homophobia, and how LGBTQ individuals fit (or don’t) into the culture, made me wonder how media and cinema can change the way we think about these communities and populations. I am going to look at movies from six different regions of the world and see if these movies made a lasting impact, whether negative or positive.

Films

  • America:  Angels in America
  1. This HBO miniseries was based off of Tony Kushner’s critically acclaimed play of the same title. The plot follows two couples, a man’s inner struggle of self-confliction between his religion and sexuality, and a Reaganite nation in the middle of the 1980s AIDS crisis.
  2. I’m specifically interested in finding out if the issues in this classic still resonate with college youth, especially because we live in a climate that is increasingly partisan. How did this film set the stage for how we handle the AIDS crisis as a nation today?
  • South America: Contracorriente
  1. This Oscar-nominated Peruvian film follows the story of a married man who has an affair with a male painter. The film’s protagonist, Miguel, struggles to accept the consequences of his affair, especially after his lover drowns.
  2. I chose this film from South America because I am curious if queer film has made an impact in other Catholic countries of South America, seeing that Argentina is the only country on the continent with the most progressive laws for LGBTQ individuals.
  • Europe: Weekend
  1. The story of Weekend originally starts off with a one-night stand, but grows into something more between two men.
  2. I am choosing Weekend because, as an English film, I believe that it could have an interesting impact on other English speaking countries. Also, the English government has had recent developments in favor of LGBTQ equality.
  • Africa: Call Me Kuchu
  1. This recent documentary explores the Ugandan LGBTQ struggle, the nation’s potential law that would make homosexuality punishable by death, and the 2011 murder of Ugandan activist David Kato.
  2. I chose this film because the LGBTQ struggle in Africa, specifically Uganda, dominates the American news. In fact, many American conservative groups fund the country’s movement to pass the “kill the gays” bill. I would like to see if this film has had any impact on the staunchly homophobic culture of Uganda, and more broadly Africa.
  • Asia: Soundless Wind Chime
  1. This Chinese film explores the relationship between a Chinese man and a Swiss man. When the Swiss man dies, the other travels to Switzerland to discover the nature of their relationship.
  2. I would like to explore the issues of binational LGBTQ couples, and see if these types of films have had impacts on immigration laws in foreign countries.

*If possible, I may instead analyze a new Turkish documentary called My Child. The film follows the stories of different parents whose children identify as LGBT. It recently premiered in Turkey to a standing room-only crowd and has been hailed as necessary and progressive for the country. There is a chance I can get my hands on a copy of the film, and if so, I would rather analyze this, seeing that I just returned from Istanbul.

  • Australia: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
  1. Priscilla’ tops many lists of controversial queer cinema. It follows a transsexual in Australia who explores the countryside with her close friends.
  2. I’m interested in looking at the instances of homophobia that occur in the movie and comparing them to present-day instances in Australia. The LGBTQ movement in Australia is vibrant, but the laws have yet to make progress, like many other countries analyzed in this project.

 Research Questions

  • How does the film reflect the political climate of its country of origin, specifically in reference to LGBTQ legal rights?
  • What were the popular and political responses to the film?

Scholarly Peer Reviewed Journals

Epprecht, Marc. “Bisexuality” and the Politics of Normal in African Ethnography. Anthropologica. Vol. 48, No. 2 (2006), pp. 187-201. Canadian Anthropology Society. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25605310.

Erni J. Towards queer cultural rights. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies [serial online]. March 2005;6(1):141-146. Available from: EBSCO MegaFILE, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 17, 2013. 

New Queer Cinema: A Critical Reader. Ed. Michele Aaron. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004. 3-14.

Schroeder W. ON COWBOYS AND ALIENS. GLQ: A Journal Of Lesbian & Gay Studies [serial online]. October 2012;18(4):425-452. Available from: EBSCO MegaFILE, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 17, 2013.

Digital Video

  • My digital video will be a montage of comparisons, juxtaposing these six difference continents against one another. I plan on using a combination of key scenes from each movie that answer both of my research questions. In addition to this, I also would like to research news articles and be able to overlay footage of these with audio of people from each film’s country of origin, in their respective language. After this, I also plan to interview each of these individuals on their opinions of LGBTQ rights their native country, being sure to ask them my research questions as they pertain to each film.

Google Map

  • The Google Map will trace the locations of each film’s country of origin—six different continents. This is crucial to explore the politics of each nation, its people, and culture in reference to LGBTQ rights. The answers to my two research questions are dependent upon looking at the countries and their governments as well as how queer cinema impacts existing beliefs and opinions of its respective LGBTQ community. When exploring these countries, locations within them will be included on the map.
  • In addition to the films’ countries of origin, the map will also explore any key locations that are outside of its country. I will analyze each film keen to detail so that I am able to draw connections between any “foreign” locations to these foreign films and the film’s political implications at home.
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4 thoughts on “

  1. lexijwhite

    Andrea,
    I really like your idea to revisit the concept of the femme fatale and explore and analyze the perceptions that audiences have of different femme fatales. I think it’s interesting to think about how the sexuality of the femme fatale is deemed a crime, and what the social implications and potential effects of this are. I’d be interested in seeing how you can assess what perceptions audiences have of these characters and if you can find scholarship that measures this. Are the femme fatale’s empowered by their sexuality in any way? Do these characters have sexual agency, or do we see their bodies and overt sexuality merely put on display and fetishized? This gets at an interesting and longstanding debate in feminism of sex-positivity versus sex-negativity. Perhaps you can search for some reading material on these concepts to see if you can draw any parallels or conclusions that keep feminist scholarship in mind.
    I really like the films you choose and the diversity within them in terms of the femme fatale characters. In thinking about Corky and Violet’s relationship, I would suggest exploring further what role their queerness plays. I’d be interested in hearing you elaborate a little more on your claim that “Corky and Violet’s intentions of theft and their relationship demonstrate how the main point of the film is not the violence but their sexuality.” What elements of their relationship are you assessing? What film techniques are used to portray their interpersonal and sexual dynamics? What role does dialogue play? Where are we left guessing as an audience? Lastly, I really like your idea to include images of femme fatales from the 1940s to present. I think this would offer a great opportunity to analyze if and how the femme fatale has changed over time and perhaps, why? I look forward to your final project!

  2. jtolan1990

    This is a really interesting concept to me, and I’m not going to lie, I super love a lot of these movies. I think that maybe I’m having trouble with, like… the reason to look across continents. Not in the sense that it would be beneficial to see how different geographical regions produce different queer cinema, but in the sense that I feel like there’s kind of randomness to the selection of films and not a strong enough question to bind all of them together. Taking AiA as an example, yes, the play and to a certain extent the movies were and still are major works for the AIDS movement and queer people generally, but when you compare it to something like, Weekend, which is WAY more recent, I feel like it might be misrepresenting the regions, considering that queer cinema in America has advanced quite a bit since AiA.

    Basically, I think there needs to be a stronger unifying factor between the films. Whether that be a particular social issue that they all deal with, or explicit nationalist themes, or even just a roughly similar timeline, being able to solidify that would probably make the project as a whole a lot more cohesive. I mean, it is ultimately only 1500 words and 5 minutes of video, which doesn’t give a lot of time to go into depth with a broad range of topics.

  3. channabach

    I admire your ambition here and I agree with jtolan1990 that these are great films. However, I also agree with jtolan1990 that there is too much going on here for the size of project you have. You mention films from completely different cultural contexts, historical periods, and film industries, and you just don’t have enough time to throughly research or analyze all of them.

    I recommend choosing 1-2 films to analyze. Any of these here would work, as they are all super interesting. You say you want to analyze constructions of LGBTQ characters in film, which is a good place to start, but be more specific. What precisely about that character construction do you want to focus on? Remember that gender and sexuality (along with law, “rights”, race, class, citizenship, community, identity, etc.) are constructed very differently in different cultural contexts and historical periods, and the categories of LGBTQ and “LGBTQ rights” just don’t exist everywhere and certainly not in the same way (such that “lesbian” or “transgender” or “rights” mean different things in Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv–for example–because they have different histories. After all, “rights” and the identities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer are very US-specific terms that don’t travel well).

    Similarly, you’ll need to research and analyze the ways different film industries operate to shape how films are made in different countries. Production, distribution, and exhibition contexts are very different in different locations, which menas it doesn’t make much sense to compare a “queer film” from the US to a “queer film” from Brazil as if they had the same film industries, political economies, relationships to colonialism, or legal cultures (the things that shape what “LGBTQ,” “gender”, “sexuality,” and “rights” mean in different contexts). You can do a comparison, but you’d need to take this stuff into consideration.

    Once you narrow the topic to the film(s) you’ll be focusing on, let me know and I can point you toward resources helpful for those films.

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