I wandered round the West End at lunch time trying to find a replacement black beret, but apparently places only stock them in the autumn so I am bang out of luck unless I can find them in New York. (New Yorkers - where do I find black berets? Thank you.) The really irritating thing about black berets is that when you ask for them, everyone tries to send you to the electronics department - and an increasing number of shop assistants have no idea whatever of what a beret might be. My exasperation levels were already high - I ordered some leggings over the phone from Evans yesterday morning and they took my name and everything - and somehow they have managed to lose them and all memory of their existence within 24 hours. Luckily I managed to find some others there that I liked, though not as much - and yes, I am one of those people who discovers from time to time that almost all of their leggings have cigarette burns from other people, or tears from random encounters with other people's luggage and has to replace several at once and relegate some of the others to the 'only to be worn indoors with torn t-shirts' list. Is anyone surprised? You name a sluttish thing, and I am that thing...
So it was a relief to get down to the BFI only to discover they were in the middle of a fire alarm and I had to wait to get into the viewing suite. So, in the end, my good resolutions to see three films had to be sacrificed on the altar of Evans's staff incompetence and bad luck and I only really got to see two, and sneak a look at a third which I will get to see some other time.
Jerusalem is Proud to Present is the best of the Pride documentaries simply because it has the best and least confusing story arc. It is wonderful to see how Orthodox Jews, Muslims and various kinds of Christian can all unite to stand in a room and discuss how much they hate queers. I find it hard to believe how people can go on and on about the sanctity of Jerusalem and not seeing the inconsistency of talking about holiness and killing people in the same breath.
And then there is the lying and hypocrisy. At one of the local Pride marches, a man in sidelocks and a hat went berserk with a knife and seriously wounded three marchers crying out that he was the slave of God. On film. Nonetheless one of the American rabbis who was organizing the protests against Pride tried to claim that he had the knife to slash banners and got disoriented and hurt three people entirely accidentally. Now, if you believe in killing people in g-d's name, go ahead and say so, and take the consequences of inciting violence...
It was scary how smug the homophobes of various religions were and how likable the various organizers were by comparison. I found myself genuinely afraid for them and amazed at their courage in keeping going - it is the sort of film in which the religious homophobes end up looking bad not because the film-maker has shot them that way but because hatred and smugness and fake piety are not good for the muscles and skin of the face. Orwell says somewhere that everyone has at 50 the face they deserve - I have never seen such good examples of this.
I wanted to see Water Lilies, but the dvd was defective and blinky pixels give me migraine, so I broke off quite early knowing that, since it got released, I can get it at some point from LoveFilm. It looks like a gorgeous little French teen movie about girlcrushes and swimteams with a lot of lithe young limbs in the water and sweet leads giving each other chaste kisses and lingering looks. A must-see clearly, but not today.
Which freed me up to watch yet another trans documentary,Red Without Blue this one about two identical twins, one trans and one not. What interested me about this is that I have known identical twins who were both trans and had assumed that was how it always worked; I did find myself doing something I normally never do, and speculating whether Mark, the gay male twin, was just in denial, and noticing how many of his mannerisms he shared with his sister, in spite of the straggly beard he has grown to look different from her.
This distracted me somewhat from what was not quite a standard transition documentary because the family was reasonably disfunctional - a mother who at times early on accused Claire of transitioning just to be difficult. The twins nearly killed themselves in a suicide pact in their teens after Mark got mixed up with a young predator - they were then separated in boarding schools for a couple of years - one of the most attractive things about the film was that it talked so frankly about the plusses and minuses of their bond. Not a great film, but quite a likable last note for my viewing.
Only that was not quite the last thing - Billy Wiz the press officer, whom I should do a Paltrow and thank effusively sometime, but not here quite yet came up to me on Monday and asked me for a quote about the gender-neutral loo. Apparently Julie Bindel was planning to attack the BFI for this - I came up with something along the lines of 'The Festival is open to a variety of sexualities and gender identities; during it the BFI should not only welcome all of them but provide them with space which is both safe and embracing'. Anyway, looks like Bindel's intervention may have had the opposite effect to what she intended - Billy told me today that the BFI are seriously considering having a permanent gender-neutral loo...Which would be v. cool if it happens.