On four Thursday evenings this February and March, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present the film series More Than Just Queer: Luminaries Past and Present. These programs feature film selections—and a range of filmmakers, artists, and scholars who will introduce the films—from the canon of queer cinema that highlight both the trailblazers and a younger generation of filmmakers. More than just queer, they surface the affinity between culture rooted in the LGBTQ community and the avant-garde.
Dirty Looks presents Yesterday Once More
Introduced by Bradford Nordeen, curator, Dirty Looks
With filmmakers Mariah Garnett and Chris E. Vargas in person
Thursday, February 14, 7 p.m.
Phyllis Wattis Theater
The New York–based queer cinema collective Dirty Looks, helmed by curator Bradford Nordeen, heads west to copresent their program Yesterday Once More. The program features four portrait films (by Matt Wolf, Zackary Drucker, Mariah Garnett, and Chris E. Vargas), each of which looks back on a gay figure who helped shape or define a public image of queerness or homosexuality (Joe Brainard, Flawless Sabrina, Peter Berlin, and Liberace). The project highlights these figures and their (self-)representation through collaborative film projects (Joe Brainard’s script-writing for Rudy Burckhardt’s 1968 film Money), documentaries (Frank Simon’s The Queen, which depicts Sabrina’s first large-scale NYC drag ball), auteur pornography (Peter Berlin’s self-made That Boy), and television (Liberace’s Valentine's Day Special).
L.A. Plays Itself
Introduced by William E. Jones, artist and filmmaker
Thursday, February 28, 7 p.m.
Phyllis Wattis Theater
Before there was mainstream gay pornography, there was Fred Halsted and his daring approach to the genre. In L.A. Plays Itself (1972, 51 min.), tracking shots of the gritty landscape of L.A. and pastoral parks of the Malibu Canyon play backdrop to rough scenes of S&M. Yet Halsted’s aesthetic approach to cinematography, narrative, and editing has earned the film a place in experimental film history, and as such it holds the distinction of being the only gay porn film in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. The screening will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker and Halsted scholar William E. Jones.
Northern Lights: FAG Feminist Art Gallery Selects
Introduced by Julia Bryan-Wilson, assistant professor of art history, UC Berkeley
Thursday, March 14, 7 p.m.
Toronto-based FAG Feminist Art Gallery is a collaboration between the artists Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell. They write “Through FAG we host, we fund, we advocate, we support, we claim and we make. FAG is focused on a diverse community of individuals and artists and our collective and communal powers. FAG is committed to the cultivation of a new kind of sisterhood that isn’t based on gender and privilege and a new kind of brotherhood that isn’t based on rape and pillage. FAG is feminist in its resistance and in its attempts to reconcile its participation in oppressive systems. FAG is not fixed. FAG is not success. FAG is feminist in its insistence in closing the gap between studio, gallery, art, activism, social, and home. FAG is feminist in its can’ts, its won’ts and its wants. For More Than Just Queer FAG will program a selection of our film and video faves sure to stoke your feminist flames. In our ‘FAGging it forward’ style, the program will be international in scope but from a queerly Canadian home base.”
Made in SF: Films by Barbara Hammer
Nitrate Kisses, 16mm, 77 min., 1992
Dyketactics, 16 mm, 4 min., 1974
Thursday, March 21, 7 p.m.
Barbara Hammer is an experimental filmmaker best known for her groundbreaking works in queer cinema. She first studied film at San Francisco State University in the late sixties at around the same time that she came out as a lesbian—an act that motivated and informed her approach to the medium during the second wave of feminism in the seventies. Hammer has directed more than 80 films—from her 1970s works that engage taboo subjects through performance, to her 1980s experiments with perception, to her 1990s documentaries on queer history. Tonight we present Hammer’s picks of two films she made in San Francisco: Nitrate Kisses, her first feature, weaving striking images of the sexual activities of four gay and lesbian couples with footage that unearths the forbidden and invisible history of a marginalized people; and Dyketactics, a sensual, evocative montage of 110 images selected for their representation of the sense of touch, hailed as the first lesbian lovemaking film to be made by a lesbian filmmaker.