Almost 25 years after the release of Jennie Livingston’s unapologetic documentary Paris is Burning (1990) and Judith Butler’s groundbreaking book Gender Trouble (1990), one might wonder what happened to the queer project. Born out of the discords of postmodern identity politics and the frustrations of AIDS activism in the late 1980s, the queer movement evolved and flourished throughout the 1990s, introducing a radical critique against the dominant heteronormative and homonormative culture and politics, as this was hammered through the movement’s unique amalgamation of theory and aesthetics (particularly if one bears in mind how queer theory has inspired New Queer Cinema’s filmmakers and vice versa). But it was not long before Hollywood contained the oppositional energies of a Gus Van Sant, a Todd Haynes, a Gregg Araki, reducing the movement to a moment, as Ruby Rich, who coined the movement’s cinematic epithet, laments (2000). However, this brief essay is not meant to be a eulogy. It is more of a re-evaluation of the way theory has engaged with the queer aspects of cinema in the last 25 years, as well as an investigation of queerness’s value at a theoretical, aesthetic, and political level in the contemporary neoliberal context where politics is replaced by “technocratic, corporate, post-political governance”, the so-called “governmentality of the crisis” (Butler, 2013). ... More
(Writer’s note: The following piece is a paper presented in December 2004 at the conference L’Odyssée du Cinéma organised by the Centre Culturel Hellénique and L’Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. It attempted to examine the usefulness and challenges presented by Anglo-American film theory for the study of Greek cinema. In the ten years that followed, developments both in the production of Greek films and in academic scholarship have rendered several of the points raised below problematic or even irrelevant. Other points nevertheless remain pertinent and the paper – presented in its original form with no alterations or revisions – might offer some insights in the dynamic developments in the field of Greek film studies over the last ten years).
This paper is very much motivated by personal experience. My institutional position at the University of Glasgow involves a close and continuous engagement with Anglo-American film: that is what I teach and that is what I write about; my on-going interest in Greek cinema is very much marginal – my publications on Greek cinema are minimal and I do not teach Greek cinema at any point. This is admittedly a frustrating state of affairs necessitated by institutional politics, canonical hegemonies but also by the difficult interface between Anglo-American film theory as a theoretical framework and Greek cinema as an object of study. This paper will attempt to move beyond difficulties and frustration and propose some of the ways in which the two can exist in a more creative and harmonious way. ... More