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The yellow pages of queer cinema: The Bent Lens offers a wealth of information while being light on critical insight.

The Bent Lens: A World Guide to Gay and Lesbian Film * Lisa Daniel and Claire Jackson * Alyson * $22.95

This latest edition of this hefty gay film reference volume will be beneficial to any student, programmer, or enthusiast of gay and lesbian film. To call it essential, however, may be stretching a point--a good deal of this information exists in other volumes and online. However, The Bent Lens is impressive for its sheer volume (listing more than 2,300 titles), its international scope, and its documentation of countless short films (ephemeral in film culture but crucial to queer film history).

It is not necessarily a book to hunker down with and read for pleasure, though. Authors Lisa Daniel and Claire Jackson--respectively the director and president of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival in Australia--cull many synopses from festival catalogs and national film commissions. These provide handy descriptions but reflect no particular critical perspective. (Raymond Murray's Images in the Dark still stands as the most astute and stimulating of the queer film reference texts.)

The book also features four provocative essays that examine contemporary trends in queer cinema. Particularly groundbreaking are Judith Halberstam's analysis of the articulations of gender in By Hook or By Crook (2000) and Helen Hok-Sze Leung's explication of "Queer Asian Cinemas" both as an emergent social phenomenon and as an invention of queer festivals worldwide. The book also places a wealth of fresh information at the reader's fingertips, tracking a film culture that adds hundreds of titles every year. Indexes by country, director, nationality, and genre enhance the volume's usefulness, along with current film contact information--a boon to festival programmers everywhere.

Kelley is senior consultant to the Sundance Film Festival's documentary program and a consultant to independent filmmakers.
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Author:Kelley, Shannon
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 18, 2003
Words:290
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