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“Lambda Libros” is a new regular column in English about recent Spanish-language titles of interest to queer readers, librarians, booksellers, etc. Books for review can be sent to Lawrence Schimel, 16 West 36th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10018, email@example.com.
Queer studies titles written within a Spanish context are still far outweighed by translations into Spanish of English-language titles, but this year has seen a significant increase in the number of non-fiction available, and in particular a number of new titles focusing on queer cinema, from Spain and Latin America.
Miradas insumisas. Gays y lesbianas en el cine
(Rebellious Gazes: Gays and Lesbians at the Movies)
Madrid and Barcelona: Egales, 2008.
Mira, whose De Sodoma a Chueca and Para entendernos are likewise encyclopedic in length, turns his gaze to the queer experience of film, looking not just at those movies with openly gay and lesbian characters which have flourished in recent years, but rather the entire experience of gays and lesbians as viewers of films and how we experience these works through the lens of our own sexuality. The result is an exhaustive (but not exhausting) examination of films which have had a major impact on the formation of gay and lesbian spectators, deciphering the codes by which, especially for so many years, our experiences were encrypted (not to mention outright censored). The rebellious gazes of the title, therefore, are an alternative to the traditional critics (traditionally male and heterosexist) in how we consider (and talk about) films from a queer perspective, whether identifying with Bette Davis’ butchness or the melodrama of Disney musicals. Mira applies this same rebellious gaze to those more openly gay directors as well, from Cukor to Almodovar. Liberally illustrated with black and white photo stills of key moments from the films under discussion.
El celuloide rosa (Pink Celluloid)
Javier García Rodríguez
Barcelona: Ediciones La Temepestad, 2008
El celuloide rosa is an historical overview of homosexuality in film, that emerged from a series of articles the author published in the magazine LAMBDA put out by the Barcelona gay organization Casal Lambda. Organized chronologically, the book is divided into numerous sections, offering a panoramic view of each decade and then analyzing different subthemes or thematic groups (films about AIDS, for instance) that emerged during that period. Following each section is a series of short biographies of relevant actors or directors, with a summary of their contributions or relevance to queer cinema. The book is liberally illustrated with film posters and movie stills, as well as black and white illustrations of stars. Moreover, it features a filmography from 1912-2007, listing title, director, country of production, and queer relevance, as well as an annotated bibliography of other works (in many languages) that address queer film studies.
Otras historias de amor. Gays, lesbianas y travestis en el cine argentino
(Other Love Stories: Gays, Lesbians, and Transvestites in Argentine Cinema)
Adrián Melo, editor
Buenos Aires: Ediciones Lea, 2008.
This anthology of texts examines the ways that certain stereotypes with regard to gays, lesbians, and transsexuals have been portrayed and/or created by the world of Argentina films. Of special interest for librarians and archivists: The article “El cine argentino sale del closet: cronología de películas con personajes gay 1933-2007” by Ricardo Rodríguez Pereyra is an annotated filmography detailing the technical data and a plot summary for every Argentine film from 1933 to 2007 in which a queer character appears. But the texts of this anthology cover a wide range of subjects, some of them surprising or less orthodox in their treatment, looking at the ways that the prejudices of certain directors set the standard for other films, with regard to the treatment of homosexual subjects in the history of Argentine cinema.
Also of interest, although I have not seen a copy, is Bernard Schulz-Cruz’s Imágenes gay en el cine mexicano. Tres décadas de joterío 1970-1999, published this year by Fontamara, as well as Live Flesh: The Male Body in Contemporary Spanish Cinema by Santiago Fouz-Hernández and Alfredo Martínez-Expósito (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007) which was published in English, and so is only briefly noted.
In general, this flurry of activity within a Spanish context of works analyzing queer film is a welcome addition to early catalogs such as La sala oscura : guía del cine gay español y latinoamericano by Manuel Lechón Alvarez (Madrid: Nuer, 2001) or Paul Julian Smith’s pioneering Laws of Desire: Questions of Homosexuality in Spanish Writing and Film 1960-1990 (1992).