The kind of story only indie film can do

Brian Cox (left)

They’ve been having trouble getting a mainstream release for LIE (Long Island Expressway). What it’s doing at the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is also a bit of a mystery, sure the character is homosexual, but he’s also a paedophile. The constant linking of gay culture with paedophilia is worrying: stereotypes bandied around by the media are hard enough to challenge as it is.

But then this is no ordinary movie. At its heart lies an extraordinary performance by Paul Franklin Dano as


Strange Boy (Simon 8. Schuster €7.99) 0...

Paul Mag rs has written a remarkable novel abOut a ten-year-old gay boy. DaVi-Tl. growing up in the north east of England. It begins With a love scene between David (who believes he is possessed by super powers) and his 13-year-old best friend John.

Did Magrs realise the book. which is aimed at a teenage audience. would be so contentious? ‘When I write. I enter the world of the book.‘ he says. ‘lt's only when I stepped away. I realised how "unique" the novel is. It was very important that the first chapter happens just between the children. before the adults come in and mess everything up. Between the boys is this Narnia moment. charged With sexmess.‘

Writing Strange Boy was an intense experience. ‘I could only do it aged 31 years. when I'd already written 1 1 books.‘ says Magrs. who lived in Edinburgh for three years in the late 90s. ‘Ninety to ninety—five percent of it is autobiographical.'

Fresh and (lax/ling. Strange Boy takes us back to the 70s when wise protagonist DaVid acts as a go- between for his feuding divorced

70 THE LIST 2’; Jun 4/1 Jul 7:21}


parents. His father is a policeman who changes his girlfriends on a weekly basis. and his sacrificing mother has Just moved new man Brian into ner house. DaVid has uncontrollable erections at Saturday night family get- togethers and has to stand by and watch his best friend John get beaten up by bullies. But his "laying on of hands' to John is one of the most remarkable. transcendental scenes you'll come across in youth fiction.

the troubled teenage protagonist Howie who comes to the attention of local pillar of the community, and paedophile, Big John (Brian Cox). Handled with subtle style, the film makes you warm to Cox while never condoning or accepting his actions. Close to the edge but reined in by understated performances, this is the kind of story only independent cinema dares tackle.

Cox is instantly recognisable from his considerable back catalogue taking in everything from Brave Heart and Manhunter (as the original Hannibal Lecter) to independent gems such as Saltwater and Rushmore. An imposing figure with a bone crushing handshake, he instantly falls into easy conversation with director and co-writer Michael Cuesta.

‘It was one of the happiest films I’ve ever worked on,’ beams Cox.

‘It made a big difference having a good vibe on the set,’ adds Cuesta. ‘Even the scene in the lair, the seduction, was such a heavy scene, but we just did it.’

Cox continues: ‘The only other time I’ve experienced that was with Ken Loach.’

High praise indeed for the first time director. Of course taking on a role like this is not to be taken lightly. ‘There was never any question that the script was extraordinary and I felt that straightaway,’ says Cox. ‘But I was very trepidatious. One of the reasons I play these difficult roles is because I’m very concerned about showing the humanity rather than something monstrous.’

This may be a well-handled examination of a taboo subject, but is a gay film festival really the best place for it? ‘It won best film at the LA gay film festival,’ says Cuesta. ‘The gay community have really responded to this film and l was never sure about that. Gay people have said Howie is gay, while straight people say he’s straight. But I wanted it to be ambiguous, he’s a 15- year-old finding his sexuality.’

Cox agrees: ‘I think it’s great that one community says he’s straight and another says he’s gay. That’s what the dramatic arts should be all about: not judging, but saying this is the creation look at it, what do you see?’ Whether this is the appropriate place to screen this film you’ll have to make your own mind up on, but LIE is undoubtedly one of the strongest offerings of the entire festival. (Henry Northmore)




Humorous and truthful in its depiction of an isolated child. Strange Boy makes spot on references to Ills popular culture and features moments of magic realism to lift it above the ordinary. So too does its depiction of how it really is to be a gay child. 'lt's dangerous when things can't be talked about. \Jvhen topics for fiction are closed.' says Ivlagrs. 'I‘irttion :sn't propaganda. We look to fiction for Il‘()(l(}lf3 of ‘.'.l'ays to line' i John Binniei




Blythswood Square, Glasgow, 11.30am; Glasgow Green, 1pm, Sat 22 Jun

The rumour mill has been working overtime and the press have had a field day. but we are delighted to confirm that Pride is going ahead. Despite the sudden resignation of Jaye Richards as Pride's chairperson lsee page 4i. the festival is on track to be the biggest and best yet. Glasgow City Council has checked the books and given the thun‘bs up. reaffirming its commitment to Pride. The council is said to have increased its financial support and is offering resources and expertise to the festival.

As planned. the march leayes Blythswood Square at fpm and makes its colourful. noisy. V/lllSIltL’ l)|O‘.'.’lII§} way to Glasgox'x Green ‘Jlél George Square. ’l‘rongate and the Saltmarket. It's here you'll find the Rainbow Party with Atomic Kitten. Hannah Jones. Gary Mullin as Freddie Mercury. Tina Cousins and Tom Robinson as well as the \‘Vomen's Tent. Dance Tent and not forgetting the Diversity Marquee. There's also the Pride Au'xards Ceren‘ony ‘.'.'here The List is delighted to be collecting the Jackie Forster Memorial Award for Culture. It's great to know you like what ‘.'.'e're doing.

Once you've partied all day and cheered ‘.'.'h(:-t‘ The List receiyes its gong. you can head to the official aftershov. party. All Colours Purple. at the Arches. So don't let Pride politics get in the way of an an‘a/ziig day of celebrations. dancing. singing. snogging and (l()‘.'.’ll right dirty goings on. Have a great Pride. (Jane Hamilton;