Pride Month: Queer Cinema by Queer Directors

“There have never been lesbians or gay men in Hollywood. Only homosexuals.” With this final despairing statement, gay film historian and activist Vito Russo ends The Celluloid Closet, his landmark study of representations of LGBTQ people in film.

When Russo first published The Celluloid Closet in 1981, he could not imagine that over a decade later LGBTQ directors would make movies that depicted the complex and varied experiences of LGBTQ people with respect and pride, and that Hollywood would begin to finance and distribute these films. Nor could he foresee that 35 years later, Barry Jenkins, a black gay director, would win the Best Picture Academy Award for Moonlight, a sensitive, nuanced, and beautifully filmed story of a young gay black man’s coming of age.

Sadly, Russo died of AIDS-related complications in 1990 and did not live long enough to see the blossoming queer cinema that began to emerge shortly thereafter. In 2013, GLAAD created the Vito Russo Test in his honor. Mainstream Hollywood filmmakers still have a way to go in terms of positive portrayals of LGBTQIA characters, but queer filmmakers around the world have been producing excellent films that pass the Vito Russo Test and then some for decades. Here are a few of my favorites: Continue reading “Pride Month: Queer Cinema by Queer Directors”

Films to inspire you to change the world: Recommended picks from Seattle’s Social Justice Film Festival

Books to Prisoners logoOur guest post today is thanks to Michelle Dillon, librarian for Seattle’s groundbreaking and award-winning Books to Prisoners, a non-profit organization that puts thousands of books into the hands of incarcerated individuals each year. Learn more about the importance of this work in promoting literacy and reducing recidivism in this recent article from The Guardian, and learn about how you can support this cause at the Books to Prisoners website.  – Editor

Filmmakers have precious few moments to motivate you: to make you laugh, to move you to tears, or to lay bare important issues. The most resonant movies are often those which challenge your perceptions and expand your understanding of society. Seattle’s upcoming Social Justice Film Festival, running October 14-25, brings together 52 films on global issues of worker rights, immigration, indigenous rights, prisoner justice, Black Lives Matter, government surveillance, and much more. We are showcasing three selections from past years at the festival—each of which is available through the Seattle Public Library. These films shed light on urgent inequities—and might inspire you to take action in your own community. Continue reading “Films to inspire you to change the world: Recommended picks from Seattle’s Social Justice Film Festival”

The Reading Dead: A Zombie literary salon.

Walking Dead Days Gone By Cover ImageAMC’s The Walking Dead has risen again for a second season, but the aisles of your local library are already crowded with zombies, including Robert Kirkman’s original graphic novel series upon which the show is based (and what isn’t based on graphic novels at this point?) and the first season on DVD.  

For anyone who thought the zombie craze was so 2009, think again. And as whimsical as many zombie titles are (Zombie Haiku?), there seems to be something deadly serious underlying all those “could you survive a zombie apocalypse” Facebook quizzes, as we whistle through the darkness of our prolonged global economic crisis and reflect wistfully on the bygone American Century. There’s plenty to fear these days, and relentless hordes of brain-hungry cadavers seem an apt metaphor; I predict zombies will still be hot at least until unemployment dips back below 6%.

A while back I thought I’d assemble a tidy little list of zombie books in our catalog, but I had seriously underestimated the relentless, ravening hordes of the zombie revival that wouldn’t die: they just kept coming, and coming, and coming. Our catalog lists no less than 351 items with “zombie” in the subject heading, so I’m at seven lists and counting, and here they are:

I don’t think I’ll truly be happy until we have a fullscale zombie invasion of the library. Not to tempt fate, but after visits from Santarchy and Glee Flash Mobs, it just feels like we’re due.