See Walchewski, Janet; Documentarists. Queer-friendly Gabori and Walchewski were behind an anomalous and quirky documentary New Romance (Aspects of Sexuality and Sexual Roles) (1975, 34), which has the distinction of being the first NFB film to use the L and G words and present upfront, real live self-affirming lesbians and gays on the screen. The two women made the film on the sly using “short ends” (waste film stock), presenting the producers with a fait accompli finished film, which the brass then took on and distributed (it was the seventies!). The documentary offers in sequence a consciousness raising session of young straight women talking about emerging sexual mores and losing their virginity, followed by a portrait of rather inarticulate plaid-shirted pipe-smoking lesbian couple, then interviews with straight Italian-Canadian wrestlers talking about masculinity and enforced sports socialization for boys, then a couple of proudly swishy Montreal hairdressers, then an interview with a straight-looking man who talks about kissing other men, and finally a glitzy glamour party with lots of dressing up, acting out and genderfuck, climaxing in a lingering same-sex kiss. Intercut, a young woman has her head shaved so that people will not base their impressions on her looks. The film’s improvised and subjective origins and outsider perspective are evident in its lack of thematic or cinematic structure, and the way it substitutes impressions for research. In the late seventies, I was furious that this flaky “first” was a bungling assortment of what were then considered negative stereotypes, not to mention its total obliviousness to the then consolidating queer political movements. Almost three decades later, the film has improved with age, invaluable imagery of people and lives from an undocumented period and place.
Montreal , QC