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Qlassics film series to show at DPAC

Erin McGinn | Friday, February 9, 2007

This Saturday, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center will showcase “Qlassics: Reimagining Sexuality and the Self in Recent American Cinema,” a student-organized academic film event that focuses on several important lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender films produced in the past few years.

The films featured in Saturday’s presentation are well regarded and critically acclaimed not only for their content but also for the ways in which they challenge and re-imagine preconceptions of self, community, history and authenticity.

The “Qlassics” series is a continuation of the academic mission that originally began with the Queer Film Festival, as well as last year’s “Gay & Lesbian Film: Filmmakers, Narrative, Spectatorships.” While last year’s collection featured Ang Lee’s Academy Award winning “Brokeback Mountain,” this year’s series provides a new selection of films to raise questions and change perspectives.

The “Qlassics” series is sponsored by the Department of Film, Television and Theatre, and co-sponsored by the English and History departments as well as the Gender Studies Program and the Hesburgh Program in Public Service.

The films to be shown in the “Qlassics” series are the following.

“Watermelon Woman” (dir. Cheryl Dunye, 1996) 2 p.m.

“Watermelon Woman” tells the story of Cheryl (Cheryl Dunye), a young black lesbian who works in a video store in Philadelphia with her best friend Tamara (Valarie Walker). She tries to make a film about her search for an obscure black actress from the 1930s who was known as the Watermelon Woman.

As Cheryl continues her search, she becomes involved with Diana (Guinevere Turner), a white woman, which strains her friendship with Tamara. “Watermelon Woman” won the 1996 Teddy Best Feature Film award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

“Go Fish” (dir. Rose Troche, 1994) 4 p.m.

“Go Fish” is a lesbian-themed independent film directed and co-written by Rose Troche (with her then-girlfriend Guinevere Turner). The film tells the story of the interrelationships of an intimate group of friends. The film follows the exploits of Max (Turner), a young lesbian student, her roommate Kia (T. Wendy McMillan) and the friends the two encounter along the way.

The narrative is laced with a number of discussions on lesbian issues, dream sequences and commentaries directed toward the viewing audience. “Go Fish” was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Teddy Best Feature Film award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The screening of “Go Fish” will be introduced by Film, Television and Theatre professor Pamela Wojcik.

“Roy Cohn/Jack Smith (dir. Jill Godmilow, 1994) 7 p.m.”

“Roy Cohn/Jack Smith” stars Ron Vawter as the nominal character in this film, an adaptation of a theater piece. He interprets two separate roles in the film. The first is lawyer Roy Cohn, who came to prominence during the heated and controversial Communist investigations driven by Senator Joseph McCarthy, and who led vicious battles against the civil rights of homosexuals – even though he himself was a homosexual.

Secondly, he portrays Jack Smith, an avant-garde director, actor and author of the provocative film “Flaming Creatures” who made homosexuality into a central component of his art. The film’s director, Notre Dame Film, Television and Theatre professor Jill Godmilow, will introduce the screening.

“Transamerica” (dir. Duncan Tucker, 2005) 10 p.m.

“Transamerica” stars the talented Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives” as Bree, a California native about to undergo sexual reassignment surgery when she discovers that her son is living in New York.

After Bree takes an impromptu flight to meet her son Toby (Kevin Zegers) for the first time, the two begin a cross-country road trip from the East Coast back to Los Angeles.

During their voyage, they encounter numerous people and experiences that force them to examine the preconceptions that each held regarding the other.

Her performance in “Transamerica” garnered Huffman both an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Actress.

The screening will be introduced by Indiana University South Bend sociology professor Betsy Lucal.

Each film selected in the “Qlassics” series allows viewers to see the complicated issues and questions broached with different viewpoints and unique perspectives. Huffman’s award-winning role in “Transamerica,” for example, brings public attention to the difficulties that transgendered men and women face in a society that often seeks clear-cut definitions of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The films will be shown sequentially in the DPAC Browning Cinema on Saturday. All of the screenings are free, but do require tickets for admittance. Tickets can be reserved online at the DPAC’s Web site, performingarts.nd.edu, by calling the ticket office at 574-631-2800 or for purchase at the ticket window.