Queer Movie Night to Discuss “High Art (1998)”

(Graphic by Elijah Janka)

Monday, September 27, 7-8:30 p.m.

Currently meeting on the Zoom platform.

Zoom Link for Queer Movie Night:


High Art (1998)

by Matt Lawrence, QMN regular

Syd loves photography more than anything, but she’s not a photographer herself: she fulfills her passion working for a magazine dedicated to the art. Then, by chance, she meets Lucy – a great photographer who doesn’t value her talent. Each of these women has something that could help the other fulfill her potential, but doing this will turn their lives upside down.

Lisa Cholodenko’s screenplay – written while she was still completing her film degree at Columbia University – was so strong it attracted financial backing. She was able to attach herself as director and shoot her first feature right after graduating. Her uncanny intuition for actors was immediately apparent. She cast the young Australian, Radha Mitchell, on the basis of only a videotaped audition. Mitchell anchors the film with a remarkably sensitive performance, revealing Syd’s intelligence while not omitting her naiveté, showing her strength as well as her vulnerability. With the other major roles, Cholodenko liberated two talented actors from playing “types.” Patricia Clarkson had previously played supportive wives – an uninteresting type from the studio stockpile. (Remember Mrs. Elliott Ness from “The Untouchables?” Of course you don’t!) Cholodenko gave Clarkson her first “character” role, forever changing her career. For the role of the directionless and talented Lucy, Cholodenko somehow sensed how much Ally Sheedy could do outside the narrow “girlfriend” types she’d been confined to. Sheedy’s performance is so daring and dark – so far outside the roles Hollywood has for women – they’ve never known quite what to do with her since (or she with them!).

“High Art” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to win honors from multiple festivals and critics associations for writing, directing, and acting. It’s one of those rare movies that assumes an intelligent audience and improves with repeated viewings. And it’s the first lesbian love story I’m aware of that’s written and directed by a lesbian.

See Queer Movie Night for more information and to learn where to view the film.

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