Mar 3, 2011

#BDS: AIDS, apartheid and boycotts

"When interviewing queer filmmakers, a common refrain is heard. Many will state quite emphatically that they don’t have an agenda. This no doubt comes in part from the largely mis­guided bit of perceived conventional wisdom: that audiences see message movies as passé.

That’s why it’s always refreshing to interview John Greyson. The Toronto-based activist and filmmaker has always said that those two vocations have been in lockstep. This week, Cinema Politica will host a night of Greyson screenings, in which the filmmaker will discuss the creation and reception of a number of his works, including Fig TreesProteus and Hey Elton. It’s a line­up that reflects a quarter century of serious shit-disturbing, exploring issues such as safer sex, gay penguins, Palestinian rights and apartheid (both in South Africa and Israel).
Greyson has always worked at making larger feature film projects, while maintaining his commitment to lower-budget experimental films. You can feel the urgency while watching his safer-sex videos from the ’80s, when gay men were facing widespread deaths in their ranks. His 1996 film Lilies won the Best Picture Genie, while his Zero Patience (1993) is an audacious musical about AIDS that celebrated street-level, agitprop activism. “I feel like the past decade of my work has been about reconnecting to grass-roots activism,” Greyson says."

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