Why I Selected the Films – Lindsay River

What matters in this film is the love the daughter has for both her fathers, alive and dead, and the love they had, and still have, for her and for each other. It is a film of great beauty.

We have asked each of our film panelists why they have selected their films for Elements, and here are the answers from Lindsay:

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Film One: A Last Farewell  (2013) Dir. Casper Andreas. Sweden. 13min

I chose this lovely Swedish film because it really moved me and I felt it would speak not only to the LGBTQI community, but to everyone who sees it. It tells the story of the surviving partner of a gay male couple, who cannot come to terms with the manner of his husband’s dying and who is alienated from their daughter who took a different position than he did as she cared for her dying father.

The acting is impressive and the conflicts it shows are familiar for many of us who have been through complicated grieving processes. Part of why I liked it so much is because the conflict, and its eventual resolution are not about the bereaved dad and the one who has died being gay. Though we do face many challenges because of the difficulties society has placed in our way in the past, and sometimes still in the present, we also, of course, experience emotions in common with the rest of humanity.

I also liked it that you cannot tell which of the dads in the story was the one who fathered the daughter originally, or whether she had been adopted: I liked it because it challenges the idea that these variations in modes of parenthood matter very much. What matters in this film is the love the daughter has for both her fathers, alive and dead, and the love they had, and still have, for her and for each other. It is a film of great beauty.

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Film Two: If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000) Dir. Jane Anderson, Martha Coolidge, Anne Heche, USA, 1 hour 36min

I chose this film because it tells the story of two older lesbians and the way they may be treated by society when their relationship is not seen or understood. It is part of a series of three storylines set in the same house and following incidents in the lives of three different lesbian couples across different time periods. It shows mainly unintended cruelty and neglect of a bereaved partner.

It is true that the story told might not be the same today, yet even today not all LGB older couples feel they can be out to relatives and neighbours and professionals for a variety of reasons that range from the long held habit of necessary privacy, through religious issues to known bigotry and prejudice. The story of the surviving partner, played by Vanessa Redgrave illuminates not only what can happen to couples who have had to live in the closet (as in this story), but also to platonic friends whose deepest bond is with each other but is not recognised by society.

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Film Three: Women Like Us (1990) Dir. Suzanne Neild & Rosalind Pearson. UK. 55min

This film from 1990 is really the most illuminating in its interviews with a variety of older lesbians in the late eighties. Finding the older lesbians to interview was at this time a massive and difficult task and the filmmakers were stunningly successful. Though it is now 26 years old, I feel that is has never been bettered by any other film I have seen on this topic. This is not only for the range and interest in the interviews but also for the sensitive filming which strongly respects the choices and needs of the interviewees.

Women Like Us brings you close to these older lesbians as people, it tells some wonderful stories about their lives, and it gives an insight into the resourcefulness and creativity of the women interviewed, and the strategies they have used to survive in a society that has been mainly homophobic for most or all of their lives. It also gives an impression of the support older lesbians give to each other. The film was followed by a book with the same name which can be found online, and a sequel called Women Like That which looked at the way being in the film had affected the interviewees. It is warm, witty, and a joy to watch.

– Lindsay River