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This week in the LGBT-themed arts:
This Sunday, May 25th, marks the television premiere of the HBO film The Normal Heart. Directed by Ryan Murphy (the creator of Glee) and written for the screen by Larry Kramer from his semi-autobiographical 1985 Tony-winning play, the film features an ensemble cast headlined by Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch, Matt Bomer and Alfred Molina and depicts the story of the initial efforts to publicize HIV/AIDS in early-1980s New York City. Patrick Healy of the New York Times writes on the making of the film.
The 2014 Cannes Film Festival in south France was this past week, and one of the selections for the Directors’ Fortnight was Pride, a British drama about the involvement of the LGBT community in fundraising for the 1984 National Union of Mineworkers strike. Director Matthew Warchus tells The Guardian about the film’s purpose. Cannes, the world’s most prestigious film festival, is a strong supporter of LGBT films; you may recall that last year’s Golden Palm winner was the three-hour lesbian coming-of-age story Blue is the Warmest Color.
Also representing LGBT society at Cannes this year was the young Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan, best known for J’ai Tué ma Mère; his blackly comedic entry Mommy took home the Jury Prize.
Actresses who expressed their support for gay cinema included Indian star Sonam Kapoor, who stated that it is time for Bollywood to explore the theme (and significantly so, since homosexuality is illegal in India), and Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis are expected to be in attendance, later this month, at the first gay pride parade in North Cyprus, a disputed nation that has recently decriminalized homosexuality.
The New York Review of Books is releasing a new translation of late Taiwanese author Qiu Miaojin’s novel Last Words from Montmartre, a cosmopolitan epistolary narrative about an affair between two young women that is likely semi-autobiographical.
Tom of Finland (born Touko Laaksonen), the artist who pioneered the fetishistic figure of the homoerotic, muscular and well-endowed police officer/biker dude during and after the era of beefcake magazines, is being commemorated in a series of stamps by his namesake nation. (Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay politician, has also recently been honored with his own stamps.)
M. Lamar, a performance artist known for her recurring role on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, is touring New York City with her multimedia show Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche, which is based on a true story.
The works of visionary author James Baldwin are experiencing a revival. Claire Topalian of the Huffington Post writes an admiration.
A new biography of actress Vanessa Redgrave, Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave by Dan Callahan, was published this month by Pegasus Books. For the occasion of the book’s release, Jerry Portwood of Out reflects on the prevalence of gay themes in her life and career.
The love letters between Berlin Stories author Christopher Isherwood and his younger lover Don Bachardy have also been published.
The animated film How to Train Your Dragon 2, set for release next month, has a scene in which it is implied that a character is gay.