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C'est la Cannes.

CANNES HAS NEVER BEEN the gayest film festival (the scene on the Croisette is more about starlets than Speedos). But gay images did flicker on the screen this year, and they weren't always pretty. The festival--and the complaints--kicked off with the costume drama Vatel, featuring Gerard Depardieu and Uma Thurman. Depardieu stars as a chef charged with preparing for a visit by King Louis XIV, the film features a subplot about Louis's brother, known as "Monsieur," who fancies a certain houseboy. (He doesn't get him.) Critics cried homophobia, but director Roland Joffe cried, "Moi?"

"For anybody to detect homophobia in the film," Joffe told The Advocate, "they would have to have it in them. Monsieur is treated with immense sympathy." That might be stretching it, but this gay character is no nastier than his straight counterparts--and he does manage a good deed or two.

Meanwhile, in another century, a band of rugged samurai get hot and bothered by a beautiful new male recruit in Gohatto, the new film from Japanese master Nagisa Oshima. Returning to the global limelight after a 14-year absence and recovering from a stroke, Oshima scored a commercial hit in his own country while continuing his longtime tradition of breaking sexual taboos on-screen. (His 1976 In the Realm of the Senses is still an erotic landmark.)

"It wasn't until I made Gohatto that I realized [sexual] taboos have not been fully demolished," Oshima told the press at Cannes, where the film stirred a flurry of controversy. "This is an important problem in Japan."

Festival kudos also went to the British gotta-dance drama Dancer, about a boy who rejects boxing for ballet despite familial pressure. Featuring stirring dance routines and a straight hero's nonjudgmental friendship with a gay classmate, this film promises to be a sleeper hit when Universal opens it in the United States in the fall.

Modern gay imagery got amusingly spoofed in Famous, a U.S. mockumentary directed by Griffin Dunne about two young actors chasing stardom. The two are played by cowriters Nat DeWolf and Laura Kirk.

DeWolf is Tate, who's preparing a one-man off-Broadway show, Hate Crimes and Broken Hearts. Naturally, as in all gay one-man shows, it involves him stripping down to his underwear.

"It's unbelievable how strange this week has been," says DeWolf, who found out only a few weeks beforehand that Famous was coming to the festival.

Getting ready to face the media at Cannes, DeWolf told the producers to make it clear that he's openly gay. But despite the crush of reporters and endless roundtable discussions, "no one has asked me so far," he says, laughing. "I think people have a responsibility to be out. I don't know. I could be making a huge mistake. But I can't [be in the closet], it would just be too much work."
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Title Annotation:gay images at 2000 Cannes Film Festival
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jul 4, 2000
Previous Article:From the Archives of The Advocate.
Next Article:Taking stock in ourselves.

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