Thursday, April 09, 2009

The London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Yesterday was the last day of this year's London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. In previous years I hadn't paid much attention to it, however this year Close Encounters asked me to go along and see three films with him. I was happy to accept his invitation :-).

The first film we saw was called Investigating Desire, a collection of seven short films ranging from 4 minutes in length to 20 minutes. It was a very eclectic mix but about half way through, during the short changeover period between two of the films, I feel I need to make an observation:

"Um," I whisper to Close Encounters, with a slight giggle in my voice, "this is basically pornography isn't it, dressed up as a set of arty films!"

"There's no grunting or groaning," replies Close Encounters quietly, ever the serious film buff, "so it can't be porn!"

Not that I'm complaining of course, I see nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of porn every now and then :-).

To my mind, the penultimate short film of the collection was the most unusual, and also in fact the shortest. It was called Dan's big hands and after the films before it, I thought I had a pretty good idea what Dan's big hands would be good at! It turned out to be a kind of video which accompanied a song. The song started out
I want to get lost in Dan's big hands,
Lose myself in Dan's big hands,
So far so good, but with lines like
Round my neck, tighter yet,
I ended up feeling very confused! Is that meant to be reference to Erotic asphyxiation??

The next film we went to see was called Fariytale of Kathmandu, which was a documentary about gay Irish poet Cathal Ó'Searcaigh on one of his visits to Kathmandu. It was a very disturbing film, because it turned out that Cathal Ó'Searcaigh spends his time there befriending boys who're only just over the legal age of consent. For sure he helps them by buying them things, that's the charitable work he does there, but then they seem to end up back in his hotel room for activities. Although many of the boys don't seem to mind too much, none the less it feels very much as though they're being taken advantage of. Indeed, the premise of the film is that although his behaviour is legal, nevertheless the relationship with the boys is an exploitative one, akin to or equal to sex tourism. Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that Cathal Ó'Searcaigh doesn't see anything wrong with his behaviour, otherwise he wouldn't have invited the filmmaker to Nepal with him!

Lastly, we went to the closing gala of the festival, where the film Baby Love was being shown. To my surprise, as we're sitting down a familiar voice suddenly says to me:

"Hey, GB, how you?"

To my surprise it's my colleague M, seated right behind us next to his new boyfriend! It's really good to see him, although so many scenarios suddenly start rushing through my mind. Close Encounters knows all about how I really met M, however M's new boyfriend just thinks that we know each other from work! And neither M or his boyfriend know about this blog of course!! What had we been discussing before M noticed me? Luckily, before the opportunity to give away any more secrets presents itself, the proceedings begin. There are a few speeches about how well the festival has gone, an interview with Vincent Garenq who directed the film we were about to see, and then finally the film itself.

Although the film addresses some serious issues, it's also a comedy. The plot is a bit contrived, engineered to make the happy ending possible, but none the less it's very enjoyable. In a nutshell, the gay pediatrician wants to be a father in spite of his boyfriend's strong veto, but eventually it all happens and all broken relationships get mended :-). It very much reminded me of my own paternal aspirations, although since I don't have a boyfriend now, I seem to be further away from that than ever :-(.

Luckily no opportunity for socialising arises after the film, and we bid farewell to my colleague M and his boyfriend almost as soon as we've stood up. Close Encounters needs to rush off, so I go out onto the street to find a taxi. Soon I'm travelling back home, but on the way when I turn my phone back on, I receive a txt msg from a nice guy that I met recently called V. He can go out on a date with me the following night after all, so I start feeling a bit happier. And in spite of the fact that I'm right back at the start with V with numerous hurdles to overcome, I feel even happier when I recall one particular fact about him. V has a lesbian sister, who therefore might one day might need a father for a child, and a friend or boyfriend of her gay brother might be an obvious choice! Even though I'm not getting any younger, there's still hope :-).


Anonymous said...


Glad you made it to..and enjoyed Baby Love. you and the main actor in Baby Love have 'a certain condition' in common...its not a boyfriend that you'll be needing to fulfil your paternal aspirations :P

Amused by your observation re Investigating Desires. There was a collection of short films bundled up into Sex, Drives and Videotapes which sounded like it would be a 'fun' watch. It did seem like pornography at times, like in the last short where three men are standing in separate windows in their apartment block j#$%king off and c$%mming on their apartment window. It was alte at night and on the whole...terrible...and it's a strange coincidence but the second short also had weird "snuff" bits where the two men shag and then one would pound the other...with his fists.

On a brighter note, have fun on your date with V and have an awesome Easter break.

Re M and your blog...isn't it weird having a secret blog identity that you would worry about in real life encounters?

Ken Skinner said...

Oh no... not again!

Every year we get the film listing for the festival and circle ones we're interested in going to, then real life catches up and we miss the whole thing!


I don't know whether it's a budget thing, but it really is hard to find well made gay-themed movies. The other night we watched an awful one, mostly in German, about some prisoner who falls in love with another inmate. The whole thing was played up with the 'eroticism' of man-on-man prison life and it just came off as really badly made porn!

Then again, badly made porn is better than no porn at all, right?

GaySocrates said...

I managed to catch An Englishman in New York-about the final years of the greatly misunderstood gay sage Quentin Crisp played -as in The Naked Civil Servant -by the wonderful John Hurt.
His life represented the triumph of the solitary uncompromising voice over the faceless multitude. He was one of the first Englishmen of the modern era to come out as unashamedly gay and he was my inspiration at the tender age of 14 to simply be brave enough to be who I was.
The film is full of his unique brand of camp witty wisdom. I cant recommend it highly enough-if only as a reminder that without his ilk refusing to subdue himself we might not be living in the relatively more enlightened times we enjoy today!

Leon Koh said...

wow.. good luck to your new date and best wishes to you hoping to be a father soon :)

fur inspector said...

Hey GB,

I missed Baby Love but managed to see Patrik 1,5 instead, as well as the Investigating Desire screening on Wednesday.

Did you perhaps also hear the mysterious sounds coming from the back right side of the cinema?

Jack Curtis Dubowsky said...

Thanks for your kind words about Dan's Big Hands!
As to "Round my neck, tighter yet," your reading is spot on. I'm glad you got it. I regret I wasn't able to attend the festival. Thanks again for writing up the film. Cheers, Jack.