In a world of downloading, iPods and Twittering (I cringe whilst writing that word), the group experience of moviegoing is becoming an endangered practice. Pride has been weak in the film and video category over the years and no one knows this better than Small Town Gay Bar director Malcolm Ingram.
“It’s those big emotional moments when you’re in an audience,” says Ingram. “It just feels good to be in a movie theatre and have a shared experience. That’s really lacking [at Pride] — shared experiences that don’t involve a bar or a pulsing beat.”
Ingram’s solution: Bring back queer movie classics to the big screen for Pride and inject them with a dose of local celebrity. The result is Queer View, a series of films running Pride Week that pairs local presenters with their favourite gay flicks.
“These films could all speak for themselves but I didn’t want them to,” says Ingram. “All the people who are involved with speaking have been groundbreaking in their own particular way.”
It all begins with Bruce LaBruce introducing the rarely seen 1980 lesbian thriller Windows along with the self-loathing homo classic The Sergeant. “Bruce is kicking it off with a gay shame vibe to the whole thing,” says Ingram. “It’s this guilty pleasure. You get to watch this fucked-up Hollywoodized version of what it’s like to be gay and you also get to feel good about how far we’ve come.”
Like the trajectory of queer cinema itself, Queer View’s other movies progress to happier times. Films like Go Fish, My Own Private Idaho and CRAZY uphold their staying power alongside queer presenters like Adamo Ruggerio, Matt Thomas, Andrew Harwood, Guinevere Turner, Todd Klinck, Nina Arsenault and Fay Slift. After Pride look for the series to continue as a monthly event.
Ingram’s own pass as a filmmaker informs the whole series. “From directing Small Town Gay Bar I really got reconnected with the concept of community. In a place like Toronto you have literally a village of places to go…. In a small town there’s just one place to go and everybody’s got to get along.”
And the increased representation of homos on TV isn’t enough. “I look at things like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and I literally want to put a gun in my mouth,” he says. “It’s just this fucked-up representation of what I’m supposed to be but I don’t recognize any facet of that in me.
“There’s something for everybody in [Queer View]. I wanted everybody to be represented.”
When asked what his own first queer movie was Ingram chuckles and admits to Making Love with Michael Ontkean and Kate Jackson from 1982. “I remember tricking my parents into renting it. I remember watching it three feet away from the TV set with my hand ready to stop it.
“I hate to confess that it was a movie like Making Love that made me felt connected but it really did. It was one of the only ways that I felt represented. There wasn’t much in mainstream media then.”
As Ingram came out and got to see queer movies in theatres, he grew a strong appreciation for moviegoing. He’s excited about folks coming together to watch the series of now classic films. “Some people have never even seen them on the big screen.”