Furtive, Steady Glances: On the Emergence & Cultural Politics of Lesbian & Gay Film Festivals

Ger Zielinski (ger.zielinski@mail.mcgill.ca)
Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University
October, 2008
 
Dr. Zielinski is currently a postdoctoral research fellow and visiting scholar in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He recently completed his doctoral dissertation on the cultural politics of LGBT film festivals in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal. He has taught extensively in film and new media streams of the School of Image Arts (Ryerson University, Toronto), theory of mass communication in the Department of Communication Studies (Concordia University, Montreal), and history and theory of communication and cinema studies in the Department of AHCS and Department of English (McGill University). He has published on contemporary art and cinema in various journals, including Parachute, C Magazine, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Canadian Journal of Film Studies, among others. He continues to act as a commissioning editor for Alphabet City (MIT Press).
 

Abstract

This dissertation charts the emergence of lesbian and gay film festivals in the United States and Canada, their meanings and politics, through the specific discursive contexts in which the festivals are embedded. I argue that while general international film festivals operate within a very well defined network, the added categories of minority sexuality and community crucially and fundamentally change the relationship of the films screened to the festival, films and festival to audience, and the festival to any network of distribution. The aim is then to explore those changes and differences through a comparative analysis of selected film festivals organized around categories of minority sexual identities. I argue that the lesbian and gay film festival poses a unique set of histories and structures that differ significantly from the general international film festival. I situate LGBT film festivals within the institutional history of film festivals and particular social movements, and address the important issues of the constitution of counter/publics, the play of distinction and cultural capital, and urban social space. The main case studies include festivals in Montreal, New York City, San Francisco and Toronto.
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