May 2

GIRLS IN UNIFORM: LANDMARKS OF LESBIAN CINEMA

Historical accounts of queer cinema of the middle part of the twentieth century commonly focus on Hollywood cinema and its closeted, coded, censorious and often tragic representations of gay and lesbian characters. These are perhaps best summed up by Vito Russo’s aptly-named The Celluloid Closet, an extraordinary attempt to mine the predominantly “straight” cinema of classical and post-classical Hollywood for those moments that speak to a queer audience and offer gleaned moments of identification and even resistance. Although similar moments and trends can be found in other cinemas of the period – in, for example, specific “minor” characters in the work of Ken G. Hall in Australia – other movies from across world cinema were more explicit in how they addressed and even embraced this “forbidden love”.

This program presents two films from 1951 that belong to a rich vein and history of “girls school” melodramas focusing on the burgeoning sexual infatuations between students and teachers. Both of these films were highly influenced by one of the true landmarks of lesbian cinema, Mädchen in Uniform, based on Christa Winsloe’s libidinous source material. Leontine Sagan and Carl Froelich’s 1931 adaptation was a controversial, sensual but often subtle adaptation of this material, which was matched 20 years later in the Mexican version by a more heightened, explicit and even hysterical approach that provides a fascinating chapter in the golden age of Mexican cinema. Olivia, directed by Jacqueline Audry, a onetime assistant to Pabst and Ophuls who was the most successful of post-war French female directors, is a key work of slow-burn French erotic cinema. Although the film was luridly retitled The Pit of Loneliness for US release, it is a subtle and ultimately tragic tale that Judith Mayne rightly called a “landmark of lesbian representation”.

Presented in collaboration with

Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC)

With thanks to Les Film du Jeudi.

May 2

7:00pm – OLIVIA
Jacqueline Audry (1951) 95 mins – M

Daring for its time, this landmark in lesbian cinema delves into the female psyche, exploring awakened passions and amorous relationships between students and teachers at an exclusive French finishing school. With lively, ironic dialogue and barely disguised eroticism, Audry presents a candid and affectionate portrait of life in an all-girls school isolated from the rest of society. Written, directed, produced and acted almost exclusively by women, it stars celebrated French stage actress Edwige Feuillère and Simone Simon of Cat People and La ronde fame.

35mm print courtesy of the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC).

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
‘Olivia’ by Eloise Ross.


8:45pm – MUCHACHAS DE UNIFORME
Alfredo B. Crevenna (1951) 83 mins – Unclassified 15+

An orphan (Irasema Dilián, who later played “Cathy” in Buñuel’s Wuthering Heights) develops a passionate infatuation with her teacher (Marga López) in an all-girls Catholic school. Crevenna’s remake of the highly controversial 1931 German lesbian melodrama, Mädchen in Uniform, remains one of the most fascinating films of the golden age of Mexican melodrama. Directed, written and produced by German and Austrian émigrés and exiles, this recently rediscovered adaptation is an absorbing and sometimes hysterical cross-cultural variation on Christa Winsloe’s libidinous source material.

35mm print courtesy of the Filmoteca UNAM.

7 February
OPENING NIGHT 2024

7 February – 21 February
FROM THE BOULEVARDS OF PARIS TO THE DOCKS OF CHERBOURG: LANDMARKS OF THE FRENCH FILM MUSICAL

28 February – 13 March
"LIVING MAY BE TRAGIC, BUT LIFE ISN'T": THE FILMS OF THE TAVIANI BROTHERS

20 March – 3 April
IN THE AFTERGLOW: THE MERCURIAL STARDOM OF GLORIA GRAHAME

Wednesday 10 April
MAN OF THE CINEMA: A TRIBUTE TO JOHN FLAUS AT 90

17 April – 1 May
KEEP ROLLING: ANN HUI'S COUNTER-CINEMA

8 May – 22 May
"ALL ART IS ONE": THE VISIONARY CINEMA OF MICHAEL POWELL AND EMERIC PRESSBURGER

29 May – 12 June
WRITING WITH HER EYES: SUSO CECCHI D'AMICO, SCREENWRITER AS OBSERVER

19 June – 3 July
THE HOUSE THAT MOHSEN BUILT: THE FILMS OF SAMIRA MAKHMALBAF, MARZIEH MESHKINI AND MOHSEN MAKHMALBAF

10 July – 24 July
THE PAIN OF LIVING: JEAN EUSTACHE, BEING CINEMA

Wednesday 31 July
BETWEEN THE WAVE AND REVOLUTION: THE RETURN OF RIVETTE’S LEGENDARY L’AMOUR FOU

4–18 September
BLIND BEASTS, RED ANGELS AND HOODLUM SOLDIERS: THE IRRESISTIBLE CINEMA OF YASUZO MASUMURA

25 September – 9 October
JIŘÍ MENZEL: MAKING COMEDIES IS NO FUN

16–23 October
OF MEN AND MONSTERS: THE CINEMA OF NIKOS KOUNDOUROS

Wednesday 30 October
CONTESTED HISTORIES: THE DOCUMENTARIES OF JENI THORNLEY

6–20 November
THE FIRST AND LAST OF ENGLAND: THE QUEER LEGACIES OF DEREK JARMAN

Wednesday 27 November
PARADING THE PAST: RECENT ERNST LUBITSCH RESTORATIONS

4–11 December
THE SEEDS OF CHANGE: THE DOCUMENTARIES OF TOM ZUBRYCKI

Wednesday 18 December
CARLTON AND BEYOND: THE MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY FILM SOCIETY IN THE 1960s