‘Life’s a Drag’ is a riotous celebration of drag in cinema. Come and join us for the sequins and the shade in the free film program at the Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) starting Friday 23 October and slaying it until Sunday 22 November 2020. Here’s my Top 5 to whet your appetite.
The Cockettes 2002 documents this highly influential and wildly creative drag troupe who began performing in the 1970s in San Francisco. You can’t get many more glowing reviews that The Cockettes receives. In his review for Film Threat, Chris Gore states: ‘It’s one of the few times that I have witnessed an eruption of applause from an audience consisting solely of jaded press people. That never happens.’
No drag program would be complete without Divine. John Waters’ twisted cult film Pink Flamingos 1972 is essential and filthy viewing, and who could forget Divine’s 1984 hit ‘You Think You’re a Man’ .
Decades ahead of its time and recently restored in 2013, Viktor und Viktoria (Victor and Victoria) 1933 is a gender bending comedy from Germany. Made at the beginning of Hitler’s rise to power, the film is anti–authoritarian, charming and cheeky. It inspired the 1982 Blake Edwards’ remake Victor/Victoria 1982 with Julie Andrews also screening in the program.
The thong dress, ping pong balls and a bus with a giant stiletto streaming across the Australian landscape — The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 1994 is an Australian masterpiece and a must-see on the big screen.
A heart-warming, joyous and surprisingly wholesome doco about four kids and their loving, supportive parents who believe self–expression is key to a good life. Drag Kids 2019 is a whole lot of fun.
This Top 5 includes a few gems that might be overlooked but of course Paris is Burning is a consummate classic. It’s screening one-time only on Friday 13 November at 6pm.
Rosie Hays, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA
RELATED: More 5 film suggestions to watch
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1. The Cockettes
2. Pink Flamingos (John Waters introduces the film’s trailer)
3. Viktor und Viktoria
4. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
5. Drag Kids
Special Mention: Paris is Burning
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‘Life’s a Drag’ is a free, curated cinema program that considers the varying portrayals of drag in cinema. Moving between themes of illusion, performance and masquerade, this selection of documentary and feature films contrasts the extravagance of drag and the empowerment of self-expression with the difficulties faced by the individuals behind the make-up.
Viktor und Viktoria 1933 / Director: Reinhold Schünzel
The Queen 1968 / Director: Frank Simon
Multiple Maniacs 1970 / Director: John Waters
Cabaret 1972 / Director: Bob Fosse
Pink Flamingos 1972 / Director: John Waters
Victor/Victoria 1982 / Director: Blake Edwards
Paris is Burning 1990 / Director: Jennie Livingston
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 1994 / Director: Stephen Elliott
Hedwig and the Angry Inch 2001 / Director: John Cameron Mitchell
The Cockettes 2002 / Director: Bill Weber, David WeissmanKiki 2016 / Director: Sarah Jordeno
Drag Kids 2019 / Director: Megan Wennberg
Wig 2019 / Director: Chris Moukarbel
Seating is general admission and our ushers will ensure all patrons in the cinema follow COVID-safe seating arrangements. As seating is still limited, we recommend arriving early to avoid disappointment.
QAGOMA acknowledges the generous assistance of the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra in providing materials for this program. Program curated by Victoria Wareham, Australian Cinémathèque
QAGOMA is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.
Feature image: Production still from The Cockettes 2002 / Director: Bill Weber, David Weissman / Image courtesy: David Weissman Films