Extracts from a discussion between Bill Schiller and Mark NashF-31-B-20 M-Nash (BillS)-93-06- (E)  


On film and filmmakers ...
Mark Nash has been actively involved in film production, worked with Isaac Julian on Looking for Langston. While he was teaching at New York University he found the American footage. This year he produced Isaac's film The Attendant.

Bill Schiller is a journalist in Sweden, was one of the leaders of the campaign to get Amnesty International to take on homosexual prisoners and is secretary of Tupilak, the Nordic gay and lesbian cultural organisation.

published, June 1993, Die Andere Welt.

B. S.: Mark, what is the response to your film?
M. N.: People who have been in analysis, where you have an obsession with your analyst, as father figure, who are a special minority group, both straight and gay, - as well as the women who have had to live with these men for weeks or years, - respond to the film (Between Two Worlds) well.
Kay Armitage, who programmes for the Toronto Film Festival came up to me, She came to me and said, "Mark, I don't really like your film because all my friends have been telling me for years I should go into analysis. Now I've seen your film I really can't take it although I think it is really well made." So the film produces quite strong reactions.

B. S.: I can imagine the gay activist saying now that you've made your first film why didn't you portray a gay man?
M. N.: The character Paul - played by John Wilson - is quite clearly gay, and "out" and quite positive. He's very irritated with Graham for not coming out. It's just that he is not entirely positive. He's a bit bitchy, predatory.

B. S.: The psychiatrist reads that section from the book. Which book is it?
M. N.: It's from Thomas Mann's Tonio Kruger. TK is between these two worlds. He's cut off from the bourgeoisie and it's from a passage where he's walking down the street looking into the houses at the families. It was something which came up in my analysis. It's the sort of thing that I thought this character who is based on my analyst would have done, - gone back to his own Germanic culture to find this literary parallel.

B. S.: Is your character really bi-sexual? The psychiatrist says 'You are fleeing to men when you have difficulty with women " Is this a suggestion that he could find his identity. he would be in both worlds. and be happy In both.
M. N.: I think it's more open than that. He's saying that you have a problem with women. Your relationship to men is contingent on your relationship to women, which is certainly my experience, and I suspect that of a lot of people in their problems with women. They realise that when they analyse those they join up with the own fantasies about men. (...)

There was a period in my life time when I was bi-sexual, but that was only in terms of having sex. In terms of having deep emotional relationships ... I think it would be very difficult for me to have a deep emotional relationship with a man and a woman at the same time - for me at least. The other problem with bi-sexuality is that's is going to women as an escape from men - or men as an escape from women. I'm not sure that it is very helpful for those men who are trying to come out to be told they can be bi-sexual, means that in away they don't have to deal with the relationships with women in their lives.

B. S.: Your gay character says: "I can tell you what you need. Your problem is that you're in the closet."
M. N.: Freud said, of course, that we are all bi-sexual when we are born, and that the orientation develops - but then it may be that I don't really know people that are bi-sexual. I mean there must be some people who have not just the 'mixture" but a kind of balance. But that's relatively few.

B. S.: Earlier in the activist movement anyone who claimed to be bi-sexual was shot down. He was considered an enemy, a phoney. Those stars who came out by saying they were bi-sexual got applause from some, but outrage from others.
M. N.: In a way I'd say my film is only about this tangentially. I wouldn't like to generalise or theorise too much. I'm just trying to put something of my own experience down precisely in a creative way. It's interesting talking about it like this, but I might end up taking a position which is the opposite of the one in my film. ... It is true of straight men I know who've had sex with gays - they've enjoyed it but not been able to cope with the emotional consequences. So maybe I am a believer in bi-sexuality after all.

There does seem to be a tendency for women after they've been married and had children to say, I'm tired of straight men. That is what I was socialised to, but now I want a relationship with a woman. Maybe having to deal with the patriarchy in the way it is at present they say, 'I've had enough!" I know quite a few women that have done that - and very few that have gone the other way. (...) When I made the film I had been hoping to do a feature film for the British Film Institute.

B. S.: Does it have a gay theme ?
M. N.: More a gay sub-theme - it is a feminist film. a science-fiction film based on a novel called Memoirs of a space woman written by Naomi Mitchison in the 1950's. She was a feminist before feminism - she was into sexual experimentation, so she has gay characters in her book which is told from a woman's perspective. We hope that this year we'll get funding for it. There's another very gay film that I've been working on - people having sex in almost every shot! Although it is very, very beautifully shot. We've shot some of it in New York. It's based on David Voynarowicz - a writer and artist, in the style of Keith Haring. He wrote two very explicit books about a violent childhood. First he's a hustler, then he moves into the art world. This friend, Steve McClean, has written an episodic, impressionistic, script about that and we managed to raise a bit of money from Jimmy Somerville who's a friend. Through this company "Normal Films", Jimmy donated some money. We've shot some of the film and now we are looking for money to make the rest of the film. So that's one of the things I've been doing here.

B. S.: Explain me these things, the producer assigns the crew and brings them along or what?
M.N.: There is an executive side to producing and a "line-producing" side. The executive side is finding the money, talking to people, coming to places like this (Berlin). Asking "Are you interested in this film?" etc. Then when it's all set up and all the money is there, he will get someone else to actually physically make the thing. Someone who may not be very skilled organisationally and wouldn't necessarily be involved in finding the money. In the Hollywood system the producer chose everything, but nowadays it's more of a working partnership. Usually the people who put in most of the money choose ...

In my case the feature film I was trying to develop, they didn't want me to be director. They wanted me to produce it because they could see I had organisational skills. I finally persuaded them that I could direct it - but then we couldn't find the money. ... So then I did this short film to prove I could direct. Now I've made the point that I can do both. Most people are however, happier doing one rather than the other. I'm happier directing but you have to a lot of 'producing" to get things to happen.

B. S.: The British Film Institute (BFI) how positive are they for gay themes?
M. N.: Surprisingly, they're very positive. Some people say that Britain is very good producing gay men and women. It certainly is producing a lot of gay directors and maybe it's because if you're marginalised, and you feel you're got to say something, that becomes a pressure towards creative work. The BFI has come under critics that they fund too many films by gay people and people of colour. The two issues are connected.

B. S.: Who makes this criticism? Editorial writers?
M. N.: Yes - and some of the more rightwing film critics. They think "film is art" and that art should be kept separate from these other issues - which is crazy.

B. S.: It would be interesting to have so discussion on this topic at our festival Stockholm. My limited experience in the field is that the Scandinavian Institute despite its liberal background, gets very few manuscripts from gays.
M. N.: Really? Considering the whole history of sexual radicalism - Ibsen, Bergmann, Bjorn Donner, and all those people? In London they're deluged with them - they have the problem of which one choose.

 
 
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