Divine, Alla Nazimova: London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

by Andre Soares

Divine Female Trouble John WatersDivine and John Waters at the 2013 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (Image: Divine in John Waters' Female Trouble)

The 2013 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival kicked off with a gala screening of Jeffrey Schwarz's I Am Divine on Thursday evening. In the coming days – the LLGFF comes to a close on March 24 – the festival will be screening dozens of movies featuring transgender, gay, lesbian, hetero, bi, tri, multi, pluri, and pansexual characters from various parts of the world.

Among tonight's features is John Waters' camp classic Female Trouble (1974), starring Divine as Dawn Davenport, a youngster who, after running away from home on Christmas Day, getting raped and pregnant, and becoming a single mother, evolves from spoiled schoolgirl to hardened criminal. Edith Massey plays Aunt Ida, who clearly spent her life hanging out with the wrong hetero crowd, lamenting at one point, “The world of the heterosexual is a sick and boring life.” Anyhow, every demented Republican who claims rape would not result in pregnancy should be forced to sit through Female Trouble.

Also screening tonight is director-screenwriter Tom Shkolnik's Dogma 95-ish The Comedian, which stars Edward Hogg as a call-center worker by day and unfunny standup comedian by night who becomes involved with a man (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) he meets on a bus, while also tackling his ambiguous relationship with his female flatmate (Elisa Lasowski).

Animals Gay Movie Oriol PlaAnimals: A gay teenager (Oriol Pla) and his imaginary friend

On Saturday, the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival will be presenting Ira Sachs' Keep the Lights On, starring Thure Lindhardt and Zachary Booth as lovers stuck in a highly dysfunctional relationship; Xavier Dolan's Laurence Anyways, about a male college professor (Melvil Poupaud) who one day decides to switch genders, and how his girlfriend (Suzanne Clément) copes – or doesn't cope – with his decision; and Marçal Forés' drama Animals, which shares a few elements with Seth MacFarlane's Ted (though clearly not the same sensitivity or dramatic goals): in Animals, an introverted adolescent (Oriol Pla) spends his time chatting with his imaginary childhood friend who takes the form of a Ted-like teddy bear. Eventually, the young man decides to tackle life's hardships without the assistance of his pal.

Salome movie Alla NazimovaAlla Nazimova in Salome at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Also on Saturday at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival: Alla Nazimova produced with her own money and plays the title role in Salome, a 1923 avant-garde silent film based on Oscar Wilde's play. Salome, which never received proper distribution, is notable for its decor, costumes, and assorted (and ludicrous) rumors – e.g., that the cast consisted only of avowed gay men and women, or some such nonsense.

The truncated Salome lasts only 72 minutes and it's indeed a feast for the eye; dramatically, however, the film falls flat. Charles Bryant, Nazimova's business manager and purported husband at the time, directed.

“Salome was willing and eager to give all, [but] her love was repudiated scornfully,” Nazimova explained to the press back in the early '20s. “Since she could not rule, she was impelled to ruin the life that might have saved her.”

And finally, also screening at the 2013 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on Saturday is James Franco and Travis Mathews' Interior. Leather Bar. More on that sexually charged film in a follow-up post.

More information on the LLGFF website.

Alla Nazimova Salome quote via Gavin Lambert's Nazimova.

Alla Nazimova in Salome, Oriol Pla in Animals, and Divine in Female Trouble photos via the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

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Anton Long -

Re: “every demented Republican who claims rape would not result in pregnancy…”: This opinion was voiced by only one (possibly senile) Republican. Other Republicans, without exception, were at pains to distance themselves from this outrageous utterance.

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