A quick note about an event I am taking part in, in Bristol this month. The Slapstick Festival is hosting a day devoted to “Gender Rebels”, with a triple-bill of films on the theme of early-20th-century cross-dressing, starring Ossi Oswalda, Marion Davies and Julie Andrews:
I Don’t Want to be A Man (Ernst Lubitsch, 1918)
Beverly of Graustark (Sidney Franklin, 1926)
Victor/Victoria (Blake Edwards, 1982)
The silent films will be accompanied live by the brilliant Meg Morley.
I’m honoured to be introducing the first film. The even better news is that Bristol’s reigning City Poet Kat Lyons and the award-winning performer, filmmaker and playwright Malaika Kegode will be introducing the other two titles. After the Lubitsch film, the three of us will have a panel discussion about the films and the wider history of gender expression and subversion on screen, stage – wherever we can get it.
It’s a deathless subject and yet one that films often stumble over. Things are getting better, and still many of the most exciting examples come from the silent era, which is news to the handful of people who still think that it was a bastion of conservatism and sexual rigidity. Of course, the joke is on them – and what excellent jokes they are too.
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