So anyway, the reason I liked Apres Luie so much was partly, of course, that it had Catherine Deneuve in it and she was a quiet smouldering passionate presence in almost every scene except for the ones towards the end when she loses it a bit. She is a mother whose student son dies in a car crash for which most people blame his best friend Franck; she takes Franck up as a project and it all gets out of hand. It is never entirely clear whether the young men were lovers or not, or, if they were, whether they admitted that fact to each other; it is not clear whether her desire to control Franck includes a desire to fuck him. It is a film about drifting into a weird and possibly very wrong place by slow increments, and about other people making it worse by meddling and stopping you working it through; what I loved about it was its intense ambiguity - in a real sense, as they meet in Lisbon and she stands by his bed waiting for him to wake up, the story is only just beginning. And Deneuve's utter control preserves that ambiguity.
Against a Trans Narrative is Jules Rosskam's long-meditated polemical documentary about trans-masculinities, about the way that we in the trans community have to let ourselves be seduced by certain versions of our experience for the sake of easily clearing medical gate-keepers, about the resentment of some trans men's cis-lesbian partners for the ease that they are 'losing'. All of this is wonderfully done - I confessed to a small problem with sections in which a selection of older lesbian women, young men, some of them trans, and young women, some of them lesbian, discussed the issue of the relationship between feminism and trans. The bits of the film that are about trans masculinity are about that - the bits which are about broader questions of trans, I felt, erased my experience as a trans woman who has always been a feminist, and much of the time a lesbian, and who has been involved, as have many of my friends, in these arguments for thirty years and more. It's a brilliant provocative work, but it starts some conversations that need to be had at greater length.
Fig Trees is a film about a documentary about an opera about another opera about AIDs activism, and palindromes, and albino squirrels. It is a celebration of Zackie Achmat and Tim McCaskell, with a lot of documentary footage of both men and both of them played by opera singers in another part of the film. It is David Wall's stunning post-minimalist music and the Virgil Thomson/Gertrude Stein Four Saints in Three Acts to which Wall's is a sequel and pendant. It is about refusing sainthood and about getting things done and it is amazingly beautiful to look at and even more acheingly beautiful to see.
And it is also weird to think that, many years ago, I met Zackie at a dinner party in Islington and hardly remember a thing about him except that I liked him. We do entertain angels unawares, and brush greatness without knowing,and the most humbling thing about him is that he thinks that he is no one special, just someone in the right place at the right time to be called to do the work that needed doing.
Which is the best definition of greatness, and a sort of secular sainthood, that I can think of.