Fireworks, Kenneth Anger, USA, 1947, 14mins

At 20, Anger resolved to put his burgeoning homosexuality on screen, spearheading a career of provocative, sensual image-making. Inflicted with sado-masochistic desire and an affectionate occult symbolism, this early example of queer cinema is immensely personal and radical filmmaking—now as much as ever.

Un chant d’amour (R18+), Jean Genet, France, 1950, 26mins

Without dialogue, novelist and playwright Jean Genet constructs an interplay of eroticism and power, a desire within prison-walls between inmates, and those reigning over them. Poetic, heaving with repressed emotion and explicit imagery, Genet’s first and only film was banned with screenings broken by police in an especially repressive pre-Stonewall world.

Flaming Creatures, Jack Smith, USA, 1963, 43mins

Joyous, camp, and indecent, Smith’s experimental explosion teems with flamboyance, constructed with a fluidity appropriate for its eye toward gender and sexuality. Banned internationally, and the centre of a US obscenity trial that wrangled in segments of New York’s intelligentsia including Jonas Mekas and Susan Sontag, it has gone on to inspire queer filmmakers working in a more liberated (but arguably more staid) world.

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