Tag Archives: Parting Glances

Classics of “New Queer Cinema”

In 1992, Fine Line had five films at Sundance, but by complete accident, two of those films put us in the middle of the conversation about what had just been dubbed “New Queer Cinema” by film historian and critic Ruby Rich.

Ruby moderated a panel on the subject at Sundance that year. The two Fine Line Films, which were Tom Kalin’s “Swoon” and Derek Jarman’s “Edward II,” were both considered difficult films, and the fact that both of them were being distributed by Fine Line garnered us a lot of public praise.

I had already handled a number of gay-themed films earlier in my distribution career, so I was aware that gay audiences were a loyal part of the art film audience. That didn’t mean that anything with gay subject matter would get an audience…but the right films—the  ones that didn’t pander, that didn’t reduce gay culture to stereotypes, and especially the ones in which gay life was treated as a given—these films stood out and the audience would be there.

My first professional encounter with a gay-themed film was with the movie “Outrageous!,” a Canadian film that was released in 1977 by Cinema 5. My job was a combination of co-op advertising, media buying and promotion. My boss, Don Rugoff, had taught us how to zoom in on niche audiences, mainly by use of radio. One of the biggest radio formats at that time was disco, which definitely had a huge chunk of the gay audience as regular listeners, so we set up promotions and word-of-mouth screenings through these stations all over the country. The ad campaign was simply the word “Outrageous!” in bold type, with no graphic image whatsoever. The entire campaign was built on the fact that audiences just loved this film, and all we had to do was tease them into the theater. Word-of-mouth was incredible and the film was a genuine art house hit. (more…)

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In the eye of the beholder

In the February 19, 1986 issue of The New York Times, Janet Maslin said in her review, “Most of ”Parting Glances” functions as a parade of homosexual stereotypes.” On the same day, several other mainstream reviews said basically the same thing. Meanwhile, every gay publication hailed the film as the first realistic portrayal of gay culture they had ever seen in a film. Due to the bad mainstream reviews, the film died a quick death at the box office (anyone remember the Embassy 72nd Street theater?). A generation later, the film is commonly thought of as a classic, a landmark film in the “New Queer Cinema.” When the film was restored and shown at Outfest earlier this year, the festival referred to it as “among the most beloved LGBT films of the last 25 years.”

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