Pioneers of Queer Cinema
Screening Dates
  • September 9, 2022 8:25

In its day, Nitrate Kisses was its own gay-rights parade, and a call for reclamation; today, its pioneer spirit looks like life itself.”

Michael Atkinson, Film Comment

This debut feature from lesbian feminist filmmaker and artist Barbara Hammer is an archeological dig of unexplored queer histories. Hammer and her camera spend time with a mixed-race gay male couple, a younger pair who are both women of colour, folks from the S&M community, and an older lesbian couple. By the very nature of her multifaceted identity, which was reinvigorated when she came out at the age of 30 after divorcing her husband, Hammer maintained a formal fluidity in her half-century-long practice. Capturing subjects considered verboten—joyous lesbian sensuality, female sexual pleasure, aging, death, and dying—Hammer boldly confronted normative representations of women and characterizations of gender expression, commanding and claiming space for a new lesbian aesthetic and sensibility in experimental film that has and continues to inspire generations of artists across myriad layers of identification. – K.J. Relth-Miller

Print courtesy of the Estate of Barbara Hammer, New York, and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

preceded by

USA 1947
Kenneth Anger
13 min. 35mm

Arguably,” suggests scholar Ara Osterweil, the most political wet dream ever filmed,” Fireworks operates in a register reminiscent of classical Hollywood melodrama, utilizing highly orchestrated music to amplify themes of heroism and salvation. Jean Cocteau and fellow jury members awarded it the Poetic Film Prize at the Festival du Film Maudit in 1949. – John Trenz

Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation


USA 1969
Tom Chomont
6 min. DCP

Full of disorientating, erotically charged images, jarring movements, and pulsating light, Oblivion is the film where, through combining a high-contrast black-and-white negative with a colour positive of the same image, Tom Chomont landed on a process he would repeat often to create his sublime, iconic superimpositions. – John Trenz

Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with funding through the Avant-Garde Masters program funded by The Film Foundation and administered by the National Film Preservation Foundation


At Least You Know You Exist
USA 2011
Zackary Drucker
16 min. DCP

The sole work in the Pioneers” program from the 21st century is a collaboration between trans artist Zackary Drucker (Transparent) and LGBTQ+ elder and activist Flawless Sabrina. Shooting in warm, intimate 16mm, Drucker explores ornate headdresses, personal photo collages, and makeup stashes before alternatingly turning the camera on herself and Flawless, the tone evolving in both playful and haunting directions. – K.J. Relth-Miller

Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive