Pioneers of Queer Cinema
Screening Dates
  • September 19, 2022 8:00
  • September 24, 2022 6:30
  • September 25, 2022 8:25

A moody, humid 16mm masterpiece steeped in the kind of lyrical homoeroticism that rarely penetrates the mainstream consciousness; it was as though [Van Sant] had arrived as a fully formed stylist.”

Adam Nayman, The Ringer

Gus Van Sant’s incandescent debut feature manages to prefigure the American indie aesthetic, the 90s New Queer Cinema, and his own storied career while staying firmly on the pavement in his local Portland queer and poetry scenes. Adapting a 1977 memoir about Walt Curtis, a liquor store clerk who romances Mexican men in the down-and-out Pacific Northwest, Van Sant films the gay experience as classical cinematic masculinity. With heroic weaseliness and youthful joie de vivre, Walt (Tim Streeter) chases the objects of his lust down these mean streets. As hard-driving and hard-edged as any screen hero, Walt’s very presence within the film poses a deceptively simple question: Who is brave enough to pursue desire, no matter what? Three years before the term intersectionality” was coined, Mala Noche examines the slip between identities of machismo and submissiveness, the privileged and the impoverished, the free and the kept, stranger and lover. – Nathan Rulf

One of [Van Sant’s] most satisfying films … An empathetic, piercing movie about desire, modest in scale but markedly more lyrical and less flip than the pictures Jim Jarmusch was making at the time.”

Tom Charity, Sight and Sound

It might just remain Van Sant’s best, most honest movie.”

Jeff Reichart, Reverse Shot