Two things. First, a quick reminder about a previous post: Write Aid, the fundraiser in support of Derek Finkle’s battle to stop the police from impounding his research on the conviction of Robert Baltovich, happens tomorrow night, May 24. A worthier cause for writers will be hard to find this year. Tix and info here. Second, I must point everyone in the direction of this new book.
The View from Here is written by my former Montreal Mirror colleague Matthew Hays. Matt has worn many hats in his journalistic career—professor, investigative news reporter, Globe columnist, movie reviewer, frequent contributor to The New York Times and The Advocate. He has also played a role in some of the most cockamamie journalistic controversies of the past 12 years. He’s the one who conducted the infamous 1996 interview with Ashley MacIsaac in which he professed his love of golden showers. In 2000 he got Stockwell Day to admit he’d use the notwithstanding clause to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, which haunted him throughout his leadership of the Canadian Alliance. And at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival, Matt outed Roger Ebert for being a prima donna: when Ebert was haranguing a TIFF employee in public—part of a brazen attempt to jump the queue into a full screening—Matt, who like other journalists was patiently waiting in line, yelled at Ebert to “Go back to America!” The incident made the pages of Newsweek and the Village Voice, sparking a public catfight between them, Ebert in the pages of the National Post, Hays in the Toronto Star.
But Matt’s highest calling has always been as a film and cultural critic, and he has combined selections from his previous work with some original interviews to create The View from Here: Conversations with Gay and Lesbian Filmmakers. (Full disclosure: apparently I’m thanked in the acknowledgments.) The book contains interviews with such renowned directors and John Waters and Pedro Almodovar, but it also shows off Toronto’s status as a hotbed of gay-positive filmmaking through discussions with John Greyson, Patricia Rozema, Lynne Fernie, Bruce LaBruce, Janis Cole, Holly Dale, Ian Rashid and David Secter. It’s one of those book ideas that’s so simple, elegant and obvious, it makes you wonder why it hasn’t been written until now. The View from Here is long overdue, and ought to become a staple of any film buff’s reference shelf.
The book launch happens this Saturday, May 26 at the Royal Ontario Museum, immediately following the screening of Rozema’s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, part of the 17th Inside Out Gay and Lesbian Film and Video Festival. Everybody welcome.