Movies: Suddenly Last Winter




It has been awhile since updates on the blog, but there was a recent trip to Rome, general business, and a lack in interest in seeing anything cultural in London that partly explains that. Well anyway the cultural endeavours returned big time this week with a trip to the Barbican on Wednesday night to see the documentary Suddenly Last Winter, which traces the ill-fated journey of legislation to give equal rights to same-sex partnerships in Italy.

I never went to any gay bars while in Rome, and arriving at the Barbican full of gay Italian men I wondered if they were like this... Albeit with more flattering lighting and better coffee. Actually it was probably better not to visit them given they seem to attract firecrackers and molotov cocktails at the moment... Anyway the documentary was a personal account of a gay couple who traced the journey through the Italian Parliament of legislation that could have given Italy civil partnerships. Watching the documentary with a London audience, it was tempting to laugh and feel smug and superior at how people interviewed on the street equated homosexuality with abnormality or the end of civilisation... Or a mixed
doubles match in tennis... But what I found more fascinating was the complete failure of those in support of the legislation to have been prepared to respond to the onslaught of attacks from conservatives and from the church. The movement seemed unable to respond when conservatives equated civil partnerships as an attack on the family, and nobody wanted that... During the Q&A with the filmmakers
afterward, they highlighted not only how inept the political movement on the left is, but also how fragmented the gay and lesbian movement is. Still the filmmakers made this story so engaging and at times a little frightening. It was not necessarily the picture postcard of Rome that people would expect...

Then again as an Australian from a country where there is no sign of civil partnerships ever coming up on the agenda soon it all did not seem that surprising or shocking. One of the most socially liberal of states Victoria recently caved in to allow broad exemptions to anti-discrimination laws for religious groups. If rights cannot even be established for individuals, it seems probably a stretch to see them extended to partners anytime soon. I guess for now I can always stay smug and superior in London while thinking of Australia as the place where you put the clocks forward nine hours and put the calendar back twenty years...

There was a glimmer of hope in this documentary. One politician commented that five years earlier any debate on civil partnerships... Time will tell if there is a moment in the next ten years whether it will be possible to move further...

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