“Pioneers of Queer Cinema” film series at the Billy Wilder Theater

“The Times of Harvey Milk” is one of 33 films that will screen as part of the “Pioneers of Queer Cinema” film series at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum. Photo: UCLA Film and Television Archive.

May Hong HaDuong says watching movies has helped her develop a sense of queer culture and identity.

“For many gay people, having movies and art reflecting who they are is part of growing up, says HaDoung, 43, who identifies as gay and grew up in Huntington Beach but went to Hollywood to immerse yourself in film festivals and film screenings. .

“I was shaped by the art and culture that surrounds us. This art is how I grew up and how I learned what queer is. It was part of my own identity,” she says.

“I spent so much time in my 20s searching for a queer identity through art, and now I can share it. It’s so rewarding.

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“Pioneers of queer cinema”

HaDuong is director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, which helped curate the upcoming “Pioneers of Queer Cinema” film series. In the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s 55-year history, she is the first woman to lead the archive and only its fourth director.

The film retrospective, which opens Friday and ends March 28, includes 33 films that will be screened during 12 evening programs at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum.

Admission to screenings is free, but online registration is required.

“Pioneers in Queer Cinema” brings together a diverse group of filmmakers who showcase radical explorations of sexual orientation and gender identity, HaDuong says.

“‘Pioneers of Queer Cinema’ celebrates the groundbreaking achievements born of visionary artists who have powerfully illustrated identities pushed to the margins,” says HaDuong.

Opening night

The film series will open Friday with Gus Van Sant’s 1986 feature “Mala Noche” and Su Friedrich’s 1996 film “Hide and Seek.” Van Sant is due to appear in person for a Q&A discussion

“Mala Noche” is Van Sant’s first incandescent feature, and it foreshadows the New Queer Cinema of the 1990s. The film follows a liquor store employee who has sex with Mexican men in the town of Portland, in the Pacific Northwest. Critics said that Van Sant filmed the gay experience as classic cinematic masculinity.

Friedrich is a pivotal force in establishing a queer cinematic mode and aesthetic. Her legacy is cemented with her work of 24 films and her reverence for seminal queer theories and stories.

Harnessing her own experience as a young girl for “Hide and Seek,” Friedrich boldly immerses the viewer in her own 1960s adolescence through the unexplored lens of a teenage lesbian awakening.

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Queer cinema filmmakers

Many of these pioneers of queer cinema are independent authors who offer a new point of view, reject heteronormativity and highlight the lives of queer protagonists living on the margins of society.

The filmmakers support a range of voices and sexualities and examine the relationship between sexual, social and political oppression.

“We want to allow time for these (film) reveals to unfold,” HaDuong said. “They tell brave stories that have not been, and still are, untold.

“These films are like time travel snapshots of queer identity. These stories are the ones you can reach out and feel,” she says.

“Each program is made up of several films tied together to tell a story. It shows how crucial American queer cinema is,” says HaDuong. “What is important is that each program is a journey. It is our own journey. You can choose your own queer adventure.

Here are some of the movies:

  • ‘Coming Out’ (March 12)

This cheerful time capsule from Arthur J. Bressan Jr. offers a fabulous perspective on what it was like to be gay in 1972. Cheerful footage of the day. Like “Gay USA,” Bressan’s later feature-length documentary about the 1977 Gay Freedom Day parades, this 1972 short offers a thrilling collective portrait of gay liberation.

  • “Coming Out Under Fire” (February 20)

The 1994 film by award-winning filmmaker and author Arthur Dong is the first of three documentaries about homosexual repression and persecution. This documentary about gays and lesbians in the military during World War II is the filmmaker’s fundamental depiction of the systemic oppression of queer communities.

  • ‘The Harvey Milk Era’ (March 12)

Rob Epstein’s 1984 film is a powerful testament to the inspirational life and work of the activist-politician. With archival and biographical documents and poignant memories of friends and colleagues, Epstein reveals an intimate and complex portrait of Milk.

  • ‘Unbound Tongues’ (February 20)

This provocative 1989 film is as personal as it is political. It haunts, engages and informs the viewer. In collaboration with poet and Essex collaborator Hemphill, Marlon Riggs creates a dynamic space to explore the identities of black gay men.

  • ‘The Watermelon Woman’ (March 14)

With her feature debut, writer-director-archivist-actress Cheryl Dunye creates a new form of fictional narrative, mockumentary and archaeological digging in this 1996 film.

After becoming obsessed with the black actress who kept appearing in American films of the 1930s, only credited as “Watermelon Woman”, Dunye sets out to create a documentary that will lead her to the identity of Fae Richards/Faith Richardson , with whom she feels an unexplained kinship.

  • ‘Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives’ (March 7)

In the mid-1970s, the Mariposa Film Group, a collective of six queer filmmakers traveled across the country, interviewing over 24 men and women of various backgrounds, ages and races to speak clearly and directly to the camera about their lives in as gay. men and lesbians. This groundbreaking and historic film from 1977 is a time capsule from a time when participation was an act of courage.

In partnership with IndieCollect and Outfest, “Pioneers of Queer Cinema” is drawn primarily from the collection of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, the world’s largest public archive of LGBTQ moving image media. The Legacy Project is a collaboration between UCLA Film & Television Archive and Outfest, the queer film festival.

HaDuong was previously project manager for Outfest UCLA Legacy.

The Motion Picture Archive, which is a division of the UCLA Library, is the second largest moving image repository in the nation after the Library of Congress.

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