2016 Opening Film: Sylvia Scarlett


2016 Opening Film: Sylvia Scarlett

Sylvia Scarlett to open Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2016

The 1935 film, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, will open the 12th edition of the festival on Wednesday 21st September.

Based on a novel by Whisky Galore author Compton Mackenzie, and starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, Time Magazine famously reviewed the film as revealing “the interesting fact that Katharine Hepburn is better looking as a boy than a woman.” Hepburn plays the title role of a young woman who, following the death of her mother, decides that she can be of most help to her debt-ridden father by dressing like a man so that she may move more freely throughout society.

The film, which touches on themes of gender ambiguity, as well as the perceptions of men and women in society of the era, forms part of a wider programming stream at the Festival. An Early Clue to the New Direction: Queer Cinema Before Stonewall features an array of experimental films, shorts, documentaries and even Hollywood hits which foreground creativity in the queer community before the Stonewall Riots of the late 1960s. The selection of eleven films from the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Sweden, all of which will screen from 16mm or 35mm prints, reveals early queer cinema to be far vaster and more varied than received histories might suggest.

Signifying An Early Clue to the New Direction’s central place in the BFMAF 2016 programme, the Festival will open on Wednesday 21st September with the old-school Hollywood glamour of Sylvia Scarlett. The 1935 romantic comedy was directed by George Cukor, who later went on to direct The Philadelphia Story and My Fair Lady - and whose homosexuality was one of classic Hollywood's open secrets.