- Queer Cinema in The World by Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt
Queer Cinema in the World stands out among current queer film scholarship for its global breadth and its determination to spotlight queer narratives transcending Westernized heteronormative and homonormative rhetoric and agendas. Authors Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt open with a thorough reading of the book title itself, introducing their specific framework of converging concepts of "queer," "cinema," and "in the world." The authors articulate guiding principles for their analysis, culled from previous scholarship: that cinema is a platform for "the politics of globalization" to be promoted or challenged; that their search for "resistant means of living in the world" requires opening their scope of analysis to "unexpected" types of cinema; and that it is imperative to recognize both "official and unofficial" means of presenting and consuming film to fully grasp the scale and nature of queer cinema's reach (29). Their inquiry is not a linear survey of queer world cinema, but rather an examination of how film expresses queer identity and how queer communities utilize film in "making and unmaking the world" (31).
From the outset, Schoonover and Galt establish their welcoming/expansive, rather than exclusive/minimizing, lens, emphasizing their "radical openness on the question of what queer films might look like and where we might find them" (15). With this in mind, the films cited span Southeast Asia to Africa, Eastern Europe to Latin America, and were produced by both queer and non-queer filmmakers, projecting both philic and phobic stances on queer lifestyles. Although there is a primary focus on contemporary works, the discussion reaches as far back as the 1960s.
Chapter 1 investigates queer representations in world cinema and their potential to broaden the scope of queer identity. Worldly queer representations discussed include those hijacked by a Western hegemonic stance attempting to create a one-size-fits-all "global gay" identity(43), guided by neoliberal and globalizing ideologies. Yet over the course of the chapter, the authors shift from these "normative representations to those texts that evade the traps of both minoritizing or universalizing discourses" (78). Examples of the latter are films that present queer identity as "quotidian" rather than conflictual, allowing room for personal/social issues beyond the popularized "coming out" trope to drive the main narrative conflict (70).
Chapter 2 examines the queer film festival as a space for fostering diverse queer identities. Festivals often reinforce dominant systems of power, but they can also provide a platform to rebut non-queer and queer normative being. Festivals' current practice of "worlding" encompasses both the diegeses of the featured films and the worlds being fabricated by the festivals themselves (86); these festival worlds propose new possibilities of being for participants. The authors investigate three festivals creating worlds that shape queer identity on a spectrum of varying sociopolitical agendas. Whereas MIX NYC cultivates a cloistered community feel in which participants can safely explore identity (93), KASHISH's outward-reaching efforts encourage inclusivity between queer and non-queer audiences (95). The festival Batho Ba Lorato touches upon human rights struggles surrounding the audience, characters, and the organization hosting the festival (97). Finally, the authors' analysis of paratexts focuses on nonhuman/humanoid iconography of festival posters and draws a provocative connection to human rights restrictions that impact queer lives (115). [End Page 101]
Chapter 3 centers exclusively on allegory as a critical function in queer narratives. The authors warn of the device's dichotomous nature, highlighting how it can open and emphasize queer storylines as well as obscure them when allegory is used as a tool for "reducing queer desire to an index of geopolitical change" (164). The authors note that appropriate application of queer allegory can potentially shape global stories without depending on a single Westernized view of queer lives.
Chapter 4 examines queer narrative in popular world cinema. A historical account of queer reading techniques of popular film leads into an exploration of "transcoding," the practice of manipulating original texts to project alternative meaning onto them. The popular Nollywood "homosex" cycle promoted a homophobic agenda...