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Queer Film Classics book series covers diverse crop, from 'C.R.A.Z.Y.' to 'Death in Venice'

Thank goodness for Arsenal Pulp Press. While the independent publisher has 200 titles in print, ranging from transgressive fiction to vegan cookbooks, Arsenal is renowned for its representation in the milieu of cultural studies. Located in Vancouver, Arsenal provides compelling work about race, class, gender, and sexuality. In 2009 came the launch of an innovative series entitled Queer Film Classics, a collection that deals with LGBTQ movies. Rather than offering a general overview of queer cinema, each book is an author’s in-depth examination of one film. After much success with its first two rounds of publications, QFC is releasing three new titles. Included in this fresh batch of monographs is Montrealer Will Aitken’s analysis of Death in Venice.

While celluloid has seen its fair share of bent flicks and proto-queer films, the commercial success of LGBTQ movies from the last two decades solidifies the important role that queer cinema plays in popular culture. The 90s brought forth the oft-cited My Own Private Idaho, and its renegade rough-trade counterpart Hustler White, while more recent hits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, By Hook or By Crook, and that movie about the cowboys. This fruition occurs both locally and abroad, from Quebec’s J'ai tué ma mère to Spain’s La mala educación. It’s no wonder then that two of Canada’s leading queer film critics, Matthew Hays and Thomas Waugh, came together to edit the Queer Film Classics.

Hays is a Montreal-based critic, journalist, and university instructor, and Waugh is a professor of film studies and queer studies at Concordia University. Both authors appreciate the vast and varied cultural geography that Queer Film Classics encompasses. The series covers twenty-one films made in eight different countries between 1950 and 2005. In terms of its literary component, Waugh remarks on how the project “brings together several generations of queer artists and writers.” Some really exciting titles on the way include Chantal Nadeau’s take on Ma vie en rose, Robert Schwartzwald’s impressions of C.R.A.Z.Y., and Chris Holmlund’s look at the John Waters trash masterpiece Female Trouble. The series also touches on experimental and documentary films, because as Waugh points out, “they have played key roles in the growth of our cultures and communities.”

Montreal launch of Will Aitken’s Death in Venice
Thursday, January 26 at 6pm
Royal Phoenix Bar | 5788 St. Laurent