Op-ed: Queering the Cannes Film Festival
BY Moira Sullivan
May 30 2012 12:20 AM ET
We had intense discussions about the film to nonor with the Queer Palm. My personal preference was Lee Daniels's The Paperboy. For me it was a mesmerizing document engaging the inherent connection between racism, sexism, and homophobia. I revel at the embedded meaning that this queer director has assembled with a fantastic cast (Macy Gray, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, and David Oyelowo) and crew. Our jury was divided on this one, and we had decided to award a film about which there was no division. We would Palm a film for its content and form and arrived at Xavier Dolan's Laurence Anyways, a film about a man who wants to live as a woman. There is no way this film cannot be regarded as queer.
Xavier Dolan (above, with actress Suzanne Clément) wanted to accept the prize, but his producer did not. In the end, even though he "accepted it," he did not show up to "accept" his award, symbolizing the inherent director-producer conflict. The reason given was that they couldn't get through the inferno, as I understood it. His absence was his presence, and even Xavier Dolan in the end made the Queer Palm "invisible."
At the Queer Palm awards the final night, we were photographed together. At one point a photo request was made by a man who wanted to be in the photo and who pushed me aside to be next to Julie. Julie looked at me in apology; that acknowledgment was important. Julie is just great. I know she is questioned for championing the Queer Palm, and I observe how she has to deal with droolers but holds her own with acumen. At bars I have been pushed aside, moved aside, or elbowed or ribbed. An evening gown and femme clothes might have helped, but regardless my gender is also at issue. When I was standing at the café bar getting a coffee with jury member Sarah Neal, a burly man forced his way through as if we were not even standing there. We remarked that he would never have done that if two men were standing. I decided to say something to that effect and he looked at me with irritation and surprise. I know it helped for me to separate totally from men at one point in my life to see where I begin and where I end. Since public physical space is an arena of genderfication, I decided to implode that invisible line. I realize since then that men cross over it all the time. When women do it, it is for different reasons.
Those wondrous enchanting creatures of the jury are: regal Sam Ashby, publisher of Little Joe, with imperious debonair charm; the invigorating hilarity and generosity of L.A. publicist Jim Dobson; the poetic enchantment of the magical Canal Plus journalist Frédéric Niolle, the passionate and affectionate sweetness and brain power of Brisbane Queer Festival organizer Sarah Neal; and the relentless and affirming guardianship of Franck Finance Medieura journalist for Yagg, the largest queer internet portal in France.
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