Beatrice Colin previews Channel 4’s Summer’s Out season, including a remarkable documentary, Silverlake Life: The View From Here.
‘lt’s like being the walking dead. it separates you from the rest of the world.’ Tom Joslin. a ﬁlmmaker. wears shades to hide his emaciated face. On grainy tape. he speaks to camera to record his own and his lover Mark Massi‘s slow daily deterioration from AIDS. Over several months Joslin collected material for a video-diary style documentary called Silverlake Life: The Viewfrmn Here, which received a theatrical release this year.
The ﬁlm is being screened as part of a season on Channel 4 called Summer's Out which will show ten documentaries and feature ﬁlms on gay and lesbian themes. As well as the TV premiere of Harvey Fierstein‘s camp classic Torch Song Trilogy' the season includes Out on Strike. a half-hour documentary about two miners’ wives who fall in love; Desert Hearts. :1 lesbian love story set in 1950s America: and The Hours and the Times, a ﬁctional tale following Brian Epstein's attempted seduction of John Lennon over a weekend in Barcelona.
Silverlake Life may be the most contentious. Tom Joslin died before he managed to complete the project and friend and student Peter Freidman ﬁnished the ﬁlm. as agreed. when Joslin couldn‘t. Faced with boxes of videos and no plans as to what to do with them. he has assembled an in-your-face account. from courageous acceptance to corpse.
lntercut with an earlier documentary made by Joslin l
about his sexuality and love for his partner. the ﬁlm makes disturbing yet very moving viewing. ‘lt’s like a window into the experience of being gay. of a loving gay relationship and coping with a fatal disease.‘ says Freidman.
Seen alongside the current crop of real-life documentaries. this ﬁlm is brutally faithful to its subjects. Joslin set up a video recorder in his bedroom. most of the footage is of their everyday life. the reaction of close relatives and the progression of their relationship.
They move from happy shoppers in Thrifties looking thin but optimistic to lesion—covered skeletons whispering to the camera through cracked lips. Along the way they are scarin good-humoured, visiting a cranky healer at Miracle Manor who lets her pet poodle jump on the bed while she chants in Native American dialect. and buying new records and dancing in the sitting room. Towards the end, it‘s the boredom, exhaustion and frustration which really
Silverlake Liie: Mark hiassi and To. Joslin
comes across and Tom mutters. 'Life isn't like the movies.‘
But what value does the ﬁlm have? ‘The media persistentl; peddle stereotypes and this ﬁlm validates my and others‘ experience as gay men.‘ points out Freidman. ‘This is an account of two individuals, very much in love, who are dying. and it has just never been seen before. Also the ﬁlm is about a subject which most of the population don't want to face. Tom wanted to make this ﬁlm and he wanted people to understand his experience.‘
Although viewing is often almost unbearable, when Tom utters. ‘I‘ve run out ofthe steam of life.’ the tragedy of AIDS hits home like a hammer.
Summer's Out. From Sun [5 Aug on Channel 4.
:— Screen Fest
Sometimes it can all get a bit much, can’t it? Even it you live in the capital, there’s a temptation to get oil the streets, and absorb the Festival and
Fringe by a less direct route. And ii 5. Those other iestivals going on in Bantine. (Tom Lappin) you live outside Edinburgh, iinanclai the capital will be covered by one-oii Edinburgh ilights begins on 8802 at and travelling restrictions could mean shows looking at till Book and Film 11.15pm on August 16. IB’s Edinburgh that TV and radio are your only way oi ' Festivals. Specials begin with a preview on tuning in to the world’s greatest arts , , , , "/ During the Festival, radio allows gcottish on maximal; llsual lest. Ill-“m . ' ' ' " " plenty oi scope ior in-depth uspects beg n r n g y
Ii that’s the case, you’ll be spending E w mm, M m discussion and impromptu Monday—Friday Radio Scotland a lot oi time in the company oi Klrsty gm of shotgun»: and mm... performance. Festival FM’s extensive Festival shows on August 16 at Walk over the next three weeks. BBOZ 3M. mm_ “may “mung coverage was mentioned last issue, 10.10!!!- You are “ﬁlled to loin the have no less than nine editions oi in an mm. «new new sum“, but Radio Scotland, on a high aim audience in 5 Queen Street 10' flee. their superior Late Show-ish Edinburgh rough. ﬂymﬂm mm] mm. and achieving its highest ever audience "all!!! ONION! 'I'OII W990 Office 0! lights lined up, ieaturing the usual 3 mm mm. 01 “new” iigures, promises lively coverage, "0 "chﬂﬂl- 000" 09°“ 8‘ 9-459.-
composer James MacMillan.
By contrast, Scottish Television oiier only three llB specials during the Festival, taking the usual snappy soundbites oi personalities and new talent on display. The loose ends will be mopped up by Julian Clary whose Best 0i Edinburgh show uniortunately doesn’t get an airing until September
much oi it concentrated in The llsual Suspects. The arts magazine has been specially extended, and ieatures nightly reviews and guest chat in iront oi a studio audience. The that week rounds up some oi the codgers on the Fringe this year, including George Melly, Barry Cryer, Willie nushton, loudon Wainwright and Michael
The List i3—i9 August 1993 93