Thank You For Your Queerness
Sat 11/11/2023 • 7:30PM PST
Billy Wilder Theater
Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens one hour before the event.
There have been gays in the military since at least Achilles and Patroclus, the two legendary, mythical Greeks who gave their lives making the world safe for democracy (or really the invention of democracy by Cleisthenes one thousand years later). In honor of all LGBTQ+ service members since then, this Veterans Day, the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project presents a screening of cinematic representations of queerness in the armed forces. This small canon includes films like Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and Reflections in a Golden Eye, depressing masterpieces of repression reflecting the struggle of servicemembers forced to hide their sexual and gender identities at the risk of losing their careers, benefits and reputation were they to be discovered. However, tonight we’re featuring an alternative, empowered program of two surreal, erotic shorts and an underseen, delightfully camp arthouse short feature. The etymological origins of the word “camp” are unknown — could it derive from the dancelike choreography of the military parade and the excess of their dazzling uniforms? Ponder that possibility as you enjoy these liberated visions of queer service.
Inspired in equal parts by Eric Rohmer and primetime soaps, Paris-based American filmmaker Benjamin Crotty’s debut feature feels like a bizarre television pilot set on a military base populated by sexually-fluid army spouses. The pitch-perfect cast, including a slapstick-adept Mati Diop (35 Shots of Rum and director of Atlantiques), strikes an elegant balance between camp and earnestness, anchored by the heartfelt performance of Andy Gilet (Rohmer’s The Romance of Astrea and Celadon). Crotty appropriated the dialogue from scripts of dozens of hour-long network dramas, but the film’s most subversive act is normalizing a military where queer and straight serve together and sleep together.
DCP, color, in French with English subtitles, 65 min. Director: Benjamin Crotty. Screenwriter: Benjamin Crotty. With: Andy Gillet, Iliana Zabeth, David Baïot.
Preservation funded by The Film Foundation
“This flick is all I have to say about being seventeen, the United States Navy, American Christmas, and the Fourth of July.”—Kenneth Anger
Preeminent queer experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger created and starred in Fireworks when he was a 20 year-old student at USC. Recalling the work of French writer Jean Genet (himself discharged from the Foreign Legion for being gay), Fireworks is the story of a restless young man who fantasizes about sailors.
35mm, color, 20 min. Director: Kenneth Anger. Screenwriter: Kenneth Anger. With: Kenneth Anger, Gordon Gray, Bill Seltzer. Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Lee Jun-zhong is a promising young officer as well as the puppy sub of his dog trainer dom. In his provocative short, director Wang Ping-Wen connects systems of authority in the military with structures of sexual dominance in the dominance/submission space, treating the viewer to a fresh depiction of the eroticism of obedience.
DCP, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 11 min. Director: Wang Ping-Wen. Screenwriter: With: Jack Yao, Daniel Tasi, Hsiao Kuo Chia.