Gay and Queer Cinema

Beginners’ Level – no prior knowledge necessary

This course explores the history of same-sex desire on film, from early campaigning films such as VICTIM to films which capture the increasing visibility of gay culture on screen (such as THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE, THE BOYS IN THE BAND, A VERY NATURAL THING and NIGHTHAWKS). The Wolfenden Report, decriminalisation, the Stonewall riots and Gay Pride form a context for this shift.

The course will then look at the arrival of Queer, and at the very different, punky films which this new politics ushered in – MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, THE LIVING END, GO FISH and YOUNG SOULD REBELS. Queer politics was in part an angry reaction to AIDS, and we will look at the ways in which the disease was represented by mainstream and queer film-makers (PHILADELHIA, BLUE, ZERO PATIENCE). But it’s not all gloom: camp, melodrama and excess have long formed part of gay culture (long before its decriminalisation) so the course will also look at the coded ways in which same-sex desire was portrayed in classical Hollywood, and will try to answer why gay men like musicals.

Led by Dr Andrew Moor who is Senior Lecturer in Film at Manchester Metropolitan University.

£60 full / £45 concs

The course is for beginners, and you don’t have to read anything to prepare. That said, here are a few recommendations:

• Nikki Sullivan, A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory (Edinburgh University Press, 2003) or the following (which covers the same ground):

• Annamarie Jagose, Queer Theory: An Introduction (New York University Press, 1996)

• Harry M Benshoff, Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film In America (a fast-paced, thorough coverage which gives an excellent overview of American gay cinema)

• Vito Russo, The Celluloid Closet (Harper and Row, New York, 1987) – a bitchy, readable politically committed survey by the godfather of American gay cinema critics.

There are 2 scheduled course screenings (Go Fish and The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros). In addition we will look at one other film together in detail in class. Again, there is no need to track the following films down, but they will be mentioned during the course, and might be interesting:

Early ‘Gay’ films & later ‘gay pride’ themed films

• Victim (Dearden, GB, 1961)

• The Killing of Sister George (Aldrich, GB, 1968)

• The Boys in the Band (Friedkin, US, 1970)

• A Very Natural Thing (Larkin, US, 1974)

• Nighthawks (Peck, GB, 1977)

• Beautiful Thing (McDonald, GB, 1996)

(you could also look at the work of Derek Jarman – eg Sebastianne)

‘New Queer Cinema’

• My Own Private Idaho (van Sant, US, 1991)

• The Living End (Araki)

• Paris is Burning (Livingstone)

AIDS cinema

• Zero Patience (Greyson)

• Savage Nights (Collard, FR)

• Buddies (US)

• Longtime Companion (US)

• Parting Glances (US)

• Blue (Jarman)

• Philadelphia (Demme)

Camp Classics?

• Priscilla Queen of the Desert

• All About Eve

• Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

• Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

..and 3 final suggestions:

• Boys Don’t Cry (Pierce, US, 1999) – the most significant transsexual film;

• My Beautiful Laundrette (Frears) and The Crying Game (Jordan)


  • 1 May: Introduction: Becoming Visible: tracing the path of gay to queer cinema
    Cinema 1 Ed Space

  • 8 May: Screening: GO FISH (US, 1994)
    Cinema 3

  • 15 May: GO FISH and the ‘New Queer Cinema’ movement
    Cinema 1 Ed Space

  • 22 May: Screening: THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVEROS (PH 2005)
    Cinema 2

  • 29 May: Birthpangs to ‘Coming Out’ (from visibility to Pride)
    Cinema 1 Ed Space

  • 5 June: Clips and Discussion: ZERO PATIENCE (John Greyson, CAN, 1993)
    Cinema 1 Ed Space

  • 12 June: Representing AIDS
    Cinema 1 Ed Space

  • 19 June: Camp & classical cinema.
    Cinema 1 Ed Space