You don't always get what you want
A selection (a very small selection) of films from the 19th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival are playing in Nottingham this week at Broadway. I did at least remember to check what was on this year. Months go by and I forget to view a Broadway programme, even though they're available in the foyer where I work.I went to see a film last night called Wanted. Well - it translates as Wanted. It was a German film with English subtitles.
Dir: Franziska Meletzky Germany ‘04 1hr 28mins Subtitled
Cast: Dagmar Manzel, Grazyna Szapolowska
A light, Sapphic romantic drama that tells a tale of friendship and growing love with cracking humour and good old-fashioned sensitivity. 40-something Dora is a lonely postwoman with a cleaning fetish who hates her job and doesn't suffer fools gladly. When Polish refugee Jolanta, believing she has accidentally killed her boss, begs Dora to hide her in her apartment, Dora agrees and soon finds herself falling for her neighbour's sexy curves and feminine guile. A beautifully composed, character driven drama that perceptively draws out rich performances from the two lead actresses.
Dora was a definite lookey-likey for Ellen DeGeneres and a character with plenty of neuroses. 'Cracking humour and good old-fashioned sensitivity' is a good description. I enjoyed it, although it seems it wasn't to the taste of all lesbians in the audience. There was probably too much subtlety and sensitivity and not enough sex for some. In fact there was no sex, but plenty of sexuality. Some came to watch Wanted and left wanting, judging by some overheard conversation. Too bad. They will have to look elsewhere for dykes really getting it on. Maybe stay at home and get a DVD in. I wouldn't have minded more sex, but I didn't need it. I like to be surprised by a bit of class when I go out to the cinema.
So that's the one lezzie offering we will get to this Festival.
There was another film we'd pondered viewing on Sunday. In the end we made the rather enlightened decision not to go. Not to go just because it was a film with a lesbian theme showing in a Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. We allowed ourselves the choice: go out; stay in. But it's a lezzie film! So! Do we have to go to every film with a lesbian label? Wow! That is enlightened thinking!
There was a time when we would have had to go. Such lesbian celluloid pleasures were extremely few and far between, you couldn't fail to be there. The films I remember in the late 1980s at the Phoenix Arts Centre in Leicester look to be packed out in my memory. It's likely they weren't, but that's the impression I have. All of us desperate for affirmation and eager for the chance to witness one woman fancying another. Even unrequited love scenes were better than nothing, although we were well past standing for another unhappy ending. Actually, we did all have a yearning for sex back then. Lesbian sex on the big screen.
Fast forward to now, though, and you would have to be incredibly dedicated to catch every film with a lesbian character or the hint of such. Not forgetting lesbians on television, of course. Ok, we're clearly lacking the out lesbian presenters. There's no-one prime-time to rival Graham Norton, Julian Clary and Dale Winton and I can't see that changing for a long while. It still seems a further step for women to come out in high profile roles. But even I don't need to video every programme with a lesbian storyline these days. I can wait for the next one to come along. Or take it or leave it. Partly because they're often a disappointment. If the lesbian storyline doesn't interest me, I don't bother watching. I've missed plenty of episodes of Bad Girls in the last three series. Sometimes I have to admit that the thought of another repeat of Tipping the Velvet makes me groan. And do you know something else? I've never watched a single episode of The L Word. I don't have Sky, I have a good excuse for that. But goodness me! What's happened to me?
Yes, I admit it. The dykey audience is a hard one to please. I enjoyed last night's film and yet I know, so often, I'm left wanting. Wanting more of my reality reflected in everything, so that it won't matter too much if the programmes and films intended for me don't always hit the mark.