New Queer Cinema

The Director's Cut

New Queer Cinema

Book Pages: 360 Illustrations: 23 Illustrations Published: March 2013

Author: B. Ruby Rich

Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Media Studies > Film, Theory and Philosophy > Queer Theory

B. Ruby Rich designated a brand new genre, the New Queer Cinema (NQC), in her groundbreaking article in the Village Voice in 1992. This movement in film and video was intensely political and aesthetically innovative, made possible by the debut of the camcorder, and driven initially by outrage over the unchecked spread of AIDS. The genre has grown to include an entire generation of queer artists, filmmakers, and activists.

As a critic, curator, journalist, and scholar, Rich has been inextricably linked to the New Queer Cinema from its inception. This volume presents her new thoughts on the topic, as well as bringing together the best of her writing on the NQC. She follows this cinematic movement from its origins in the mid-1980s all the way to the present in essays and articles directed at a range of audiences, from readers of academic journals to popular glossies and weekly newspapers. She presents her insights into such NQC pioneers as Derek Jarman and Isaac Julien and investigates such celebrated films as Go Fish, Brokeback Mountain, Itty Bitty Titty Committee, and Milk. In addition to exploring less-known films and international cinemas (including Latin American and French films and videos), she documents the more recent incarnations of the NQC on screen, on the web, and in art galleries.


“Has it been 32 years since Vito Russo took the measure of gay identity in movies with his seminal cri de couer The Celluloid Closet? Many film journalists have endeavored to update the landscape, but none has done so with the passion and insider’s wisdom of B. Ruby Rich in her necessary volume New Queer Cinema. . . . Rich celebrates the swagger, cheek, and positive energy presaged by such mavericks as John Waters, Lizzie Borden and Derek Jarman and fulfilled in the ‘90 sand beyond by, among others, Rose Troce, Todd Haynes, Cheryl Dunye, Gus Van Sant and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. — Jan Stuart, San Francisco Chronicle

“Rich’s book is both a portal into previous time of queer imagination and a history lesson on how the politics of an era resulted in the cinematic portrayal of the LGBT world as we see it now. New Queer Cinema is a living history. . . . ” — Chase Dimock, Lambda Literary Review

“[D]aring and insightful. . . . Recommended for film or queer-studies scholars, and for those strongly interested in post-1980s LGBTQ cinema.” — Robin Chin Roemer, Library Journal

“A Must-Read For Anyone Even Remotely Interested In LGBT Cinema.” — Indiewire

“Whether you’re a denizen, a habitué or a newcomer to queer cinema, Rich’s writing will make you feel welcome, and offer something to discover.” — Sophie Mayer, Sight & Sound

“Not simply an assortment of nearly thirty essays and reviews— ranging from brilliant to just really, really smart—but also a nuanced, multidimensional tapestry of the shifting state, and political influence, of LGBT cinema over the last three decades.”  — Michael Bronski, Cineaste

“As classy and packed with goodies as a Criterion Blu-ray. . . . Rich’s is exactly the voice combining erudition, political passion, a feeling for the indie scene as deep as her joints, and the kind of quick turn around of new ideas about culture and change that we, readers of journals such as this, need.” — Patricia White, Film Quarterly

“The new collection of essays by B. Ruby Rich, our foremost chronicler of queer cinema, reads like a rocket trajectory from one era into another, from the darkest days of the AIDS crisis to the premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Milk (2008). . . . The movement that Rich describes in this new book was always eleventy-zillion light-years ahead of the mainstream, and one of the many pleasures this book affords is rediscovering the momentum that the new queer cinema has enjoyed and that, perhaps, it has gifted to the culture that lags behind it, like a sporty red car dragging an armful of tin cans.”  — Chris Dumas, Cinema Journal

“Rich's anthology is undoubtedly essential reading for GLBT cinéphiles. For younger film students (straight, gay, or questioning) it sets the historical scene impeccably.” — Matthew Hayes, Gay & Lesbian Review

New Queer Cinema is exemplary of film criticism that is both scholarly and accessible. It eschews arcane theoretical acrobatics in favor of carefully historicized, critically challenging, and nuanced analyses interspersed with intimate observations and lively anecdotes. The book is invaluable to film scholars, but can be enjoyed by anyone who cares about queer issues and who likes going to the movies. This crossover appeal is the book’s biggest asset. As the book challenges its wide readership to become a more accepting and demanding audience, it is at the same time enabling queer cinema to grow in ever more adventurous directions.” — Helen Hok-Sze, GLQ

“Covering the evolution of the genre, and that is now its terminology (though some would politely refer to it as a niche cinema), Rich delves into the power and effect of lauded films such as Go Fish, Brokeback Mountain, and Milk, and expertly translates the gay experience as filtered through cinema.” — Michael Dalton, M/C Reviews

“Rich is an icon, and the essays in this book demonstrate her eloquence, passion, and continuing dedication to the cause of LGBT cinema.” — W. A. Vincent, Choice

“Rich’s analysis and description is infused with her own personal tastes and choices, thus managing to successfully bridge the gap between the intellectual detachments of an academic with the personal engagement of a critic.” — Rohit K. Dasgupta, Transnational Cinemas

“In New Queer Cinema Rich brings it forward with her latest observations on the state of the art and also showcases a chronology of her essays and writings on the history, movement and relevance for this established art form. B. Ruby Rich provides an avid guide to dig deep into the heart of the genre.” — Bill Bliss, Rage Monthly

“Rich emerges as so much more than a critic and academic; she is also a curator, a juror, an antagonist, a friend and a viewer. The conclusion she arrives at is that, as ‘moments’, there can’t be a ‘post-queer cinema’. In Rich’s pages, there is no determinism or finality – only moments distilled by intelligent, warm words.” — Tara Judah, Media International Australia

“For those of us whose work engages independent and experimental cinemas, LGBTQIA studies, and critical discussions of race on-screen, Rich’s book is a welcomed addition. For the uninitiated New Queer Cinema viewers, Rich provides a generous filmography; for the initiated, she inspires revisiting, rescreening, and even salons.”  — Lokeilani Kaimna, Velvet Light Trap

“Some of the most important, accessible, and expansive essays from any critic, scholar, or curator in the field. . . . [W]e cannot help but see Rich as a crucial oracle and supporter of the arts.” — Sean Malin, E3W Review of Books

New Queer Cinema is an excellent book. . . . Rich’s writing is inspirational. Reading her essays feels like conversing with a close friend or mentor. Sometimes you find yourself in a heated debate but more often than not you’re happy to just sit back, listen, and learn.” — Roxanne Samer, Jump Cut

"Simply put, the dazzling New Queer Cinema is required reading for anyone interested in filmic critiques of gender and sexuality." — Tsika, Film Criticism

"At last, an anthology of B. Ruby Rich’s groundbreaking work on New Queer Cinema—a valuable historical archive with the added bonus of her current reflections on it. Smart, passionate, and engaging, her writing keeps alive the fine art of criticism that is so crucial to sustaining filmmakers and their audiences." — Ann Cvetkovich, author of Depression: A Public Feeling

"I thought I knew a lot about gay movie history until I read New Queer Cinema and realized what a dunce I was. Ruby Rich has to be the friendliest yet toughest voice of international queerdom writing today. She's sane, funny, well-traveled, and her aesthetics go beyond dyke correctness into a whole new world of fag-friendly feminist film fanaticism." — John Waters

"Ruby Rich's New Queer Cinema is funny and deeply insightful—I loved going back to the good, bad old days of the ’90s and seeing how those times (and their intense sense of urgency) exploded into an auteur-driven cinema today." — Christine Vachon, producer of the films Poison, Far from Heaven, and Boys Don't Cry

"The greatest writer on New Queer Cinema! Buy Rich's book! It's amazing!" — Gus Van Sant


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Price: $28.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

B. Ruby Rich is Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has written for scores of publications, from Signs, GLQ, Film Quarterly, and Cinema Journal to The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Nation, and The Guardian (UK). She has served as juror and curator for the Sundance and Toronto International Film Festivals and for major festivals in Germany, Mexico, Australia, and Cuba. The recipient of awards from Yale University, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and Frameline, Rich is the author of Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xv

Part I. Origins, Festivals, Audiences

1. Before the Beginning: Lineages and Preconceptions 3

2. The New Queer Cinema: Director's Cut 16

3. Collision, Catastrophe, Celebration: The Relationship between Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals and Their Publics 33

4. What's a Good Gay Film? 40

Part II. Bulletins From the Front

5. The King of Queer: Derek Jarman 49

6. True Stories of Forbidden Love 53

7. Goings and Comings, the Go Fish Way 58

8. Historical Fictions, Modern Desires: The Watermelon Woman 66

9. Channeling Domestic Violence: In the Den with Todd Haynes and Christine Vachon 72

10. The I.K.U. Experience: The Shu-Lea Cheang Phenomenon 76

11. Jonathan Caouette: What in Tarnation? 81

12. Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Maladies 88

13. Beyond Doom: Gregg Araki's Mysterious Films 92

14. A Walk in the Clouds: Julián Hernández 96

Part III. Genre Meets Gender

15. Lethal Lesbians: The Cinematic Inscription of Murderous Desire 103

16. Queering the Biopic Documentary 123

17. A Queer and Present Danger: The Death of New Queer Cinema? 130

Part IV. Queering a New Latin American Cinema

18. Preface to a History 141

19. Refashioning Mexican Screen Sexuality: Ripstein, Hermosillo, Leduc 145

20. Gay and Lesbian Traces 151

21. Mexico in the Forties: Reclaiming a Gender Pioneer 156

22. Revolution, Sexuality, and the Paradox of Queer Film in Cuba 159

23. Queering the Social Landscape 167

Part V. Expansions and Reversals

24. Ang Lee's Lonesome Cowboys 185

25. Itty Bitty Titty Committee: Free Radicals and the Feminist Carnivalesque 202

26. Queer Nouveau: From Morality Tales to Mortality Tales in Ozon, Téchiné, Collard 214

27. Got Milk? Gus Van Sant's Encounter with History 236

Conclusion 261

Filmography 285

Bibliography 297

Credits 307

Index 309
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