Les Invisibles

Last night went with D to see Les Invisibles, a documentary by Sebastien Lifshitz screening in Sydney as part of the Alliance Française French Film Festival .

This features the reminiscences of a number of older French gay people (or perhaps more strictly glb), born (with the exception of one woman who was about 10 years younger than her partner) before WWII and so of a generation who came to adulthood at a time when gay people, though not by this time unheard of, were required to live their lives in conditions of invisibility so far as their sexuality was concerned. Hence the title.

Some were couples; some were single; some had previously been heterosexually married and had children. There’s some more background info here.

One point of the film was that it did not deal with people in the Parisian metropolis, but rather in Marseilles or what I took to be, loosely, its hinterland. The reminiscences were intercut with some historical footage, some featuring the participants in moments of public radicalism in the past and feminist, lesbian and gay-liberational demonstrations from the times they have lived through, as well as one quite sinisterly demeaning documentary (with English voice over) on gay and lesbian nightlife in Paris. (short extract here).

Of course, all such documentaries, being anecdotal, are heavily reliant on the selection of informants/participants. This is anecdotal rather than scientific history. (And yes, I realise that begs a lot of questions, but I mean: on the spectrum.)

It was a bit slow and perhaps a bit repetitive but definitely thought provoking (as slow films probably need to be) and at times moving.

There were rather a lot of nice goats and cats. On subsequent reflection, also dogs – which just goes to show I am a cat person.

The festival has screenings in various capitals but this film is only screening as part of it in Sydney – perhaps because it has got a guernsey in glbt festivals in other capitals (why not in Sydney? one may well ask). There are only a few screenings left. I’m just mentioning it now without further elaboration because if I wait till I have a chance to comment the screenings could well be over.

Unless you are bad on slow films, I definitely recommend it.

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