Panel 3

Kristen Cochrane
Unsettling Sexuality: Fluidity of Genre and Identity in Contemporary Argentinian, American, and Canadian Cinema

Can filmmaking be revolutionary? This is the question that the Grupo Cine Liberación / The Liberation Film Group of Argentina sought to answer in the late 1960s. The group called for “militant” filmmaking, with works such as the four hour La hora de los hornos / The Hour of the Furnaces (1968), directed by one of Argentina’s most important filmmakers, Fernando Solanas. Now, a new group of young filmmakers in Argentina are part of a movement that gestures towards a re making of gender and nation in the Argentinian imaginary. This underexamined era of queer Argentinian cinema was arguably born out of the end of Cine Argentino Nuevo (New Argentine Cinema) in the early 2000s with films that challenge traditional genre in what Matthew Sini calls transgeneric (2011). These films are notable in their affective turn that underscores the domestic and the personal, contrasting Argentinian cinema after 1976 1983 dictatorship, where geopolitics and trauma were eminent (Podalsky, 2011). Current Argentinian filmmakers such as Diego Lerman and Marco Berger have resisted traditional genre forms to suggest a cinematic fluidity or genre bending that resembles the renewed interest in sexuality as fluid. This is an ongoing debate in contemporary queer studies, where labels such as “heterosexual,” “gay,” “bisexual,” and even “heteroflexible” or “homoflexible” have been rejected in favour of a mere fluidity of sexual orientation and desire (Blackman, 2009). Films that address these particular notions have been Diego Lerman’s Tan de repente / Suddenly (2002), and Marco Berger’s films Plan B (2009), Ausente / Ausente (2011), and Hawaii (2013) with their striking depictions of queer sexualities. What is the relationship, then, with Argentina’s new queer cinema and contemporary expressions of sexual fluidity?

Kristen Cochrane is an MA candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Affiliated with the Department of Film and Media, her research is located in queer cinema and filmic representations of sexual fluidity. Right now, Kristen is focusing on Argentinian cinema and looking forward to fieldwork in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2016 where she will be interviewing programmers from cinema institutes and investigating the nuances of queer cinema as a form and its relationship with the notion of queer audiences. Kristen is also a freelance essayist for various international publications, but her recent work has been concentrated in writing about moving-image media and sexuality for the web project Slutever.

 

Eleni Arvanitopoulos
Orange is the colour of the Prison Industrial Complex; analyzing the imprisonment of transwomen of colour through media representations

The critically and commercially acclaimed Netflix series Orange is the New Black has shed light on the experiences of trans people in prison. The show has received praise and criticism for its nuanced portrayal of a Black trans inmate Sophia Burset. Burset is played by Laverne Cox, whose off screen advocacy has operated in tandem with her onscreen portrayal. The legal case around CeCe McDonald {in June 2012} was one of the most controversial and heavily documented examples of a trans woman being unjustly sent to prison in recent years. McDonald accepted a plea bargain of 41 months for second-degree manslaughter rather than facing a trial and risk of a possible 20 year sentence. McDonald and her friends were assaulted outside a bar and as such her conviction sparked outrage as many viewed the verdict as an act of transphobia and racism against a woman who defended herself. This paper offers a comparison based analysis of the character Sophia Burset and the media representation and realities surrounding CeCe McDonald’s imprisonment. This is done to emphasize the violence enacted on trans women of colour within the Prison Industrial Complex. First, a brief synopsis of both Sophia and Cece is provided for context. Second, the aesthetic of realism is called into question and compared against the notion of reality {how it can be viewed and constructed within television}. The very notion of authenticity, which has multiple meanings at play within this context is also commented upon, providing an appropriate segue to analyze the Prison Industrial Complex. This paper comments on the ways in which racism, transphobia and other systematic barriers affect transgender people {both inside and outside the prison walls}. It concludes by looking at modes of surveillance and spectatorship that are imposed on transgender people, incarcerated or otherwise.

I am a first year PhD Candidate in the Cultural Studies Program at Queen’s. My research interests focus around themes of gender, sex, and sexuality, culminating around the politics surrounding representation and identity seen throughout various screen mediums. I am a Queen’s alumna BAH (’12) and completed my MA (’14) in Media Production from Ryerson University.

 

Gabrielle Doiron
Queer Play: Contemporary Toy Design, Utopia, and the Pedagogical Potential of Shame

My paper underscores tensions between child studies, queer theory, and material culture studies. Through a careful analysis of new toys MyFamilyBuilders and Clan by BILU, I ask how creative play can challenge heteronormativity. These crowdfunded toys — drawing from Bauhaus pedagogy and co-design initiatives by childhood educators, product designers, and parents — aim to introduce children to diverse genders and sexualities through play. Consisting of magnetic wooden blocks that can be mixed and matched together, these toys exist somewhere between dolls and building blocks, occupying a new constructivist space in the toy closet. They are utopian in their ambition, conceived as agents for “a better tomorrow,” and have as their main goal to open up a world in which all children feel represented. With reference to the queer theories of Lee Edelman, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Sara Ahmed, I explain how these toys are caught in between desires of adults and children and between idealizations of past and future. I argue that speaking of queerness at the level of the child identifies one’s earliest encounters with normalized behaviour, and can therefore help us better understand the roles that toys play in this early formation of self.

Gabrielle Doiron is an art educator and MA student in Art History at Concordia University. Her research interests include twentieth-century art and architecture, Bauhaus pedagogy, gender and space, and the material culture of childhood. Her SSHRC-funded thesis project, entitled “Children of the Bauhaus: Putting Play on Display in Postwar North American Playgrounds,” looks at architectures of childhood and the relationship of these spaces to nationalism and utopia.