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
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
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.