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January 13, 2006

'There is no such thing
as queer cinema'

Wexner is screening producer Christine Vachonís
films this month, including a premiere

Columbus--The films of pioneering independent producer Christine Vachon are being showcased by the Wexner Center this month. The retrospective includes Far From Heaven, Boys Donít Cry, and the Ohio premiŤre of The Notorious Bettie Page, which will be introduced by Vachon herself.

Vachon co-founded the legendary indie film company Killer Films, whose motto is ďmaking movies that matter.Ē The company has produced nearly 30 films, many of which were created by some of the most original and uncompromising voices in contemporary cinema: Todd Haynes, Todd Solondz, Mary Harron, John Waters, Robert Altman, John Cameron Mitchell and others.

ďFor more than a decade, Christine Vachon and Killer Films have been among American cinemaís most credible and respected entities,Ē says Wexner Centerís director of media arts Bill Horrigan. ďWith their unwavering support of visionary films and filmmakers that arenít afraid to be daring, controversial, or timely, they remain an ever-relevant and potent force in contemporary film.Ē

I spoke with Vachon from her New York office about her profession, her passion and her pioneering spirit.

Kaizaad Kotwal: How would you describe your career as a producer thus far?

Christine Vachon: Iíve had a really great run. I am very proud of all the movies Iíve made. This is such a difficult business, itís so labor intensive that I donít step back very much to look at it and comment on it.

KK: What have been the highlights of that career for you?

CV: That sounds like a couched question of whatís my favorite film Iíve made.

KK: No, not really. What moments during your career or people youíve worked with, or impact youíve had, mean a lot to you?

CV: Well, itís always great when a movie gets a lot of critical acclaim, when it makes it to the academy awards. But a lot of our films donít. Nevertheless, every film has its own universe with incredible highs.

KK: How did you get into producing films?

CV: I came to New York in the early 1980s when there was a lot of independent production burgeoning. I thought it was really interesting and fell into working with directors who considered themselves outside the mainstream, but they still had narrative movies that needed to be made, unlike the really experimental stuff going on in New York prior to that.

I also did some work with things like horror films made by New Line Films. I realized that producing was the most interesting piece of the puzzle.

KK: How did the name for your company Killer Films come about?

CV: Well, every time you make a movie you have to have a stand-alone production company for that film. When we made Cindy Shermanís Office Killer, we came up with Killer Films and I really liked it and it stuck.

KK: If you werenít producing movies, what would you be doing?

CV: Oh, I donít know. I have no clue.

KK: Is it important for actors, producers, directors, and writers to be openly out in Hollywood?

CV: I think itís very hard for a lot of actors to be openly out. And I respect that because youíre talking about it affecting them economically. Itís easy to be judgmental about that. Actors who are out end up playing only gay roles mostly, so I understand that.

And I know the argument is that if everyone came out at the same time it would be different. But we live in weird times. Itís a lot easier for me to be out, frankly, because nobody cares. Itís also probably a bit easier for directors to be out.

KK: Do you think that weíll see a major out star in the next 20 or 30 years?

CV: In 20 or 30 years, probably.

KK: Whatís your assessment of the state of queer cinema today?

CV: There is no such thing.

KK: Well, what about the increasing number of GLBT-related films? Their greater visibility, like this year with Brokeback Mountain, Transamerica, Capote, Breakfast on Pluto?

CV: Do you really think that there has been an increase? Besides, what is it that makes a film queer? Is it that it tells a gay story about gay characters? Is it that the actors are gay? Is it that the director, writer and producers are gay? I find those distinctions unnecessary. I also find the term queer cinema reductive, because it implies that the film is meant to appeal to a very narrow audience, to a limited group. Filmmakers always want their films to be seen by as many people as possible.

KK: Whatís in your future?

CV: We are releasing The Notorious Bettie Page soon and Mrs. Harris will debut on HBO in February. Then we go into production on Todd Haynesí film about Bob Dylan.

KK: How does it feel to have a retrospective at such a young age at such a prestigious organization like the Wexner Center for the Arts?

CV: Itís nice. It gives us a moment to step back and see that we have made a lot of films.

KK: Have you any opinions about this yearís GLBT-related films?

CV: I have only seen Brokeback Mountain. I really liked it when I saw it in Venice. Itís a great story, well told.

KK: Do you ever see a movie like Brokeback and think, ďOh, I wish I had worked on thatĒ?

CV: No. Iíve got so many things I am working on.

KK: You live in New York, as opposed to Los Angeles, which is the heart of Hollywood and film making. Why the preference for New York?

CV: I canít drive.

A commemorative booklet will accompany the retrospective. Tickets for each evening of the retrospective are $6 for the general public, $4 for Wexner Center members, students, and senior citizens. All screenings take place in the Wexner Center Film-Video Theater, 1871 North High St. Call 614-2923535 for advance tickets.

=================

The schedule

Friday, January 13

Todd Haynes Double Feature

Far from Heaven (2002) 7 pm

Poison (1991) 9 pm

Friday, January 20

The Notorious Bettie Page (Mary Harron, 2005) 7 pm

Introduced by Christine Vachon

Saturday, January 21

Double Feature

Boys Donít Cry (Kimberly Peirce, 1999) 7 pm

Series 7: The Contenders (Daniel Minahan, 2001) 9:10 pm

Sunday, January 22

Double Feature

Go Fish (Rose Troche, 1994) 2 pm

Office Killer (Cindy Sherman, 1997) 3:35 pm

Friday, January 27

Double Feature

Swoon (Tom Kalin, 1992) 7 pm

Postcards From America (Steve MacLean, 1994) 8:35 pm

 

 

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