Every month at the Paradise Theatre, curator and host Peter Knegt is offering queers (and anyone who loves them) a classic queer film, special guests and performers, and some good old fashioned drinks and conversation in the Paradise’s stunning lobby bar. Each film is paired with a different local queer artist, who will design an original poster for the screening.
February 19, 2024 will mark 30 years since we lost Derek Jarman, who was not simply one of our greatest queer filmmakers. He was also a stage designer, artist, writer, outspoken AIDS and queer rights activist, avid gardener and the person who introduced the world to his muse Tilda Swinton. He was an unparalleled example of how to live fully, creatively and prolifically as both a queer person and a person living with HIV.
Of course, Derek Jarman was also an extraordinary filmmaker. He directed 11 feature films in addition to dozens of short films and music videos (including several for The Smiths and Pet Shop Boys) in the 22 years he was (very) actively at work. We’d love to celebrate him on this anniversary of his passing by showing every single thing he ever made but obviously that is not possible. So instead we are offering both his final film and very first film on two consecutive February Wednesdays.
We will begin at the end with a film that offers catharsis, exhilaration and sheer resilience on a level that is unmatched in the history of cinema: Blue. In the Sight and Sound poll that ranked it among the 250 greatest films of all time, it is described as “Derek Jarman’s last miracle” and that is most certainly true. Blue was released four months before his death from AIDS-related complications, and he made it after those complications had already rendered him partially blind, and only able to see in shades of blue. The film represents that by consisting of a single shot of a saturated blue colour that fills the screen as a soundtrack featuring Jarman, Swinton and several of his other long-time collaborators describe Jarman’s life and vision. It is perhaps the most powerful testament of an artist’s will we’ve ever seen, and we cannot wait to spend Valentine’s Day watching Blue with you. Get your tickets here.
A week later, we travel back to 1976, and Jarman’s very first feature film: Sebastiane. A collaboration with Paul Humfress and James Whaley, the film portrays the events of Saint Sebastian, a puritanical but beautiful Christian soldier in the Roman Imperial troops who is martyred when he refuses the homosexual advances of his pagan captain. It was wildly controversial at the time of its release for how extremely queer it was, with most of its performers nude for the film’s entire duration. Margaret Walters, author of The Nude Male, called the film a place “where male nudes in various stages of ecstasy positively littered the screen.” She also commented that it was "successfully aimed at a very specialized homosexual audience” (lol) and we can’t wait for you all to be that exact audience come February 21st. Get your tickets here.
Both screenings will be followed by a toast to Jarman in Bar Biltmore (upstairs from the cinema), with specialized cocktails and mocktails in which a portion of the sale with go to support Prospect Cottage, the former home and sanctuary of Jarman. You can also buy both these extraordinary posters, which were made by Sly Vallati (Blue) and Nicko Cecchini (Sebastiane).
(Courtesy of Kino Lorber)
Wednesday February 21st, 8 PM/7:30 PM Doors
General Admission $15.00 + HST/eventbrite fees
Door tickets are available for purchase on the day of screening. Refunds can be requested up to 12 hours before the screening. All refunds must be requested and processed through eventbrite.
Looking for pre or post show snack or sip? Check out our amazing options right next door!