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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 14
Three Dollar Bill's Spring Film Series offers Jean Genet cinema rarities
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Three Dollar Bill's Spring Film Series offers Jean Genet cinema rarities

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

Legendary director Jean Cocteau famously declared outcast, criminal, playwright, actor, poet and fellow Frenchman Jean Genet a literary genius, while Jean-Paul Sartre went so far as to liken him to a saint in his biography Saint Genet: Comédien et Martyr.

Now Three Dollar Film Cinema proudly showcases four films based on the satirist's plays: The Maids with Glenda Jackson and Susannah York; the Academy Award-nominated The Balcony with Shelley Winters and Peter Falk; groundbreaking German director Rainier Werner Fassbinder's final sexual epic Querelle; and Deathwatch, a rarely seen production of Genet's first play, directed by Vic Morrow and starring Leonard Nimoy and Paul Mazursky.

They're all part of Three Dollar Bill's 6th annual Spring Film Series - 'Outlaw: Jean Genet on Film,' starting Thursday, April 7 at the Northwest Film Forum - and programming director Jason Plourde couldn't be more excited.

'Jean Genet is a fascinating individual and he presented themes of homosexuality and other taboo topics when it was illegal to do so,' he explained to the SGN. 'He came from a difficult childhood and a criminal past, and yet eventually used his writing talent to speak out against injustices. Each of the films presented show the dark side of human nature, but also the yearnings we all have for love and connection.'

The most intriguing title being presented is 1966's Deathwatch. Unavailable on video or DVD, the movie is a curiosity that was once promoted as 'the strangest triangle ever seen.' Co-produced by Nimoy (who also happens to make an appearance in The Balcony), the plot concerns three prisoners who battle for one another's affections, the psychological repercussions of which result in unimaginable tragedy.

'It took a lot to arrange this screening,' Plourde said. 'Film prints of this title are rare. This may be the only opportunity for people in Seattle to see this film. And, how often do you get a chance to see homoerotic prison films from the '60s with Star Trek alum as the leads?'

For Plourde, the annual Spring Film Series is quickly becoming a Seattle tradition. 'I love introducing audiences to films that have been overlooked or would be impossible to see on the big screen if not for series like these,' he said with a smile. 'I also think it's important to revisit films that are part of our LGBT film history. Seeing these films is entertaining, and also allows us to understand how our society has changed and helps shape the stories we tell in the future.'

'Outlaw: Jean Genet on Film' is a four-film series presented by Three Dollar Bill Cinema and begins with a screening of The Maids on April 7. All films will be screened at the Northwest Film Forum. Tickets are $10 for Three Dollar Bill members and $12 for the general public. Full series passes can be purchased for $40. Visit www.threedollarbillcinema.org for more information.

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