Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 6, Issue 2
spring 2016
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

Lesbian Filmmaker Series

by George Chauncey

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During the 2015-16 academic year, LGBT Studies sponsored an unprecedented series of visits by prominent lesbian filmmakers to Yale, at which the filmmakers screened and discussed their groundbreaking films and the history and current prospects of lesbian filmmaking and queer representation.  Traversing multiple genres and themes, the series surveyed forty years of filmmaking from Barbara Hammer’s experimental Dyketactics (1974) and Donna Deitch’s breakthrough Hollywood romance Desert Hearts (1985) to the new queer cinema and independent films of the 1990s—Rose Troche’s hip and sexy portrayal of college-age dykes in 1990s Chicago (Go Fish, 1994), Cheryl Dunye’s bracing exploration of sexual and racial identity in The Watermelon Woman (1996), and Kimberly Peirce’s groundbreaking trans film Boys Don’t Cry (1999)—to Lisa Cholodenko’s recent, award-winning, and still stunningly rare studio release The Kids Are All Right (2010).  The series provided the Yale and New Haven communities a chance to see a remarkable group of films and to engage in a year-long conversation with leading filmmakers about the issues their films raise, the challenges they’ve faced as lesbian filmmakers trying to create work addressing queer themes, and how they see their work in relation to the larger history of lesbian and queer representation.  The series was co-sponsored by the Yale Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities and Films at the Whitney, with the generous support of the Mandelbaum-Byrnes Fund for LGBT Studies and the Wallace-Sexton Fund for LGBT Studies. 

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