THE VIEW FROM HERE: CONVERSATIONS WITH GAY AND LESBIAN FILMMAKERS by Matthew Hays (Arsenal Pulp), 384 pages, $26.95 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It's appropriate that Matthew Hays is launching The View From Here, his highly readable collection of interviews with gay and lesbian filmmakers, at the closing weekend of this year's Inside Out fest. Many of its 32 accomplished subjects screened their first films here.
Arranged alphabetically, the interviews begin with Pedro Almodóvar and end with John Waters, with a very moving little Q&A with Waters's muse, Divine, conducted when Hays was an undergrad, presented as a coda.
The subjects include mainstream filmmakers like Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and Randal Kleiser (Grease), avant-gardists like Bruce La Bruce and artists who go both ways (Gus Van Sant).
Hays lets his encyclopedic knowledge of queer cinema drive the conversations. He also proves he isn't a snob, including interviews with genre artists like Don Mancini (Child's Play) and porn legend Wakefield Poole.
Among the highlights are a frank discussion of Israeli politics from director Eytan Fox and writer/producer Gal Uchovsky (Walk On Water); a candid look at the psychological demands of documentary filmmaking from Trembling Before G-d's Sandi Simcha DuBowski; and every well-chosen word spoken by The Opposite Of Sex's Don Roos.
There are lots of cool facts. Who knew that it took P4W's Janis Cole and Holly Dale five years to gain access to the Kingston Prison for Women?
Some interviews are so compelling that you wish they could be longer. Others, obviously conducted during a press junket, are so abrupt, you can practically see a harried publicist pointing to her watch.
And you do feel the omission of major directors like Todd Haynes and Derek Jarman, not to mention local experimenters like Richard Fung.
Attractive, well-researched, if a little stiff, this is a worthy reference book for queer cinephiles.
Hays interviews Patricia Rozema at a screening of I've Heard The Mermaids Singing Saturday (May 26) at the ROM.