Sunday, October 19, 2008

Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives

Definitively the best documentary I have ever seen in mainstream or the genre. This 1992 absolutely hilarious, smartly conceived, excellently edited, outstandingly produced and with very compelling stories documentary is a must be seen in the genre and hopefully by many documentary filmmakers, as is truly unique and with an amazing style that could blow the mind of many.

The film tells fragments of stories from senior lesbians sharing their clandestine experiences during the sexual dark ages of the 50’s and 60’s, but the intertwined fragments become totally alive with the excellent and unique use of book covers from lesbian pulp novels, tabloid headlines, archival photographs, film clips and the potboiler fictional recount of one novel that has a happy ending, unlike all the lesbian pulp novels of that era that always had tragic endings, then the story is done in the novelistic style of US Ann Bannon, who is also interviewed in the documentary. On top, the techniques used also allows viewers to transport to Toronto in those dark years and relive what today could seem odd, but not long ago and according to me and my own experiences, was still true in Canada.

Written and directed by Aerlyn Weissman and Lynne Fernie this really campy documentary is also outstandingly produced by the National Film Board of Canada Studio D that assures high quality production values beyond the normal ones in the genre and definitively contributed to filmmakers access to the amazing materials shown in this documentary.

There’s an interesting deconstruction of this documentary and the pulp novels in the book called The Girls in the Back Room by Kelly Hankin, that if you feel like reading go here to read the available pages.

The award winner documentary is labeled as a historic document on human sexuality by serious authors and definitively I do consider it not only a historic document but also an outstanding achievement in storytelling. Big Chapeu to Weissman and Fernie!

I strongly recommend this documentary to many that read this blog, especially those that live in Canada and are not of a tender age, as probably will make you remember many bars in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal where still similar things were happening in the 70’s/80’s. Perhaps it’s only me, but finding that many inexplicable things that I saw then have its probable roots in the ‘50’s was not only fascinating but also truly hilarious. Just love it!

My only regret… that it took me so long to be able to watch it!


P.S. The picture is the VHS cover and is done in the fashion of general pulp novels, I know that many by seeing this cover will remember those infamous novels that were a big success as they were targeted to general audiences and available at your corner store. (lol!)

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