The controversial homoerotic film Poison will headline an impressive slate of features at the Second Annual Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, running Wednesday through June 22 at the Tampa Theater. Seven features from Hungary, Spain, Britain, Canada and the United States will play over four nights, accompanied by five shorts dealing with gay and lesbian issues.
Included are such well-known works as Pedro Almodovar's Law of Desire and the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, along with the more obscure Desire: Sexuality in Germany 1910-1945, dealing with homosexuality and Nazism, and Another Way, an autobiographical account of a love affair between two women journalists in Budapest during the late 1950s.
The festival's most controversial movie, though hardly the most explicit, is Todd Haynes' Poison, a grand prize winner at January's Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Haynes' interwoven trilogy of tales, inspired by the work of Jean Genet, was attacked this spring by the Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss.
Wildmon attempted to discredit the National Endowment for the Arts for giving Haynes a $25,000 completion grant by saying Poison contained "explicit porno scenes of homosexuals engaged in anal sex."
In reality, the scenes of intercourse are only suggested.
NEA chairman John E. Frohnmayer surprised supporters and detractors of the film in March with a strongly worded statement describing Poison as "neither prurient or obscene . . . (but) the work of a serious artist dealing with a serious issue in our society."
Desire: Sexuality in Germany 1910-1945 will run at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Law of Desire plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Another Way, Hell Divin' Women and I Need a Man will be shown at 7:30 p.m. June 21. Poison plays at 2:30 p.m. and Salut Victor! runs at 5 p.m. June 22. Comrades in Arms and The Times of Harvey Milk play at 7:30 p.m. June 23. Poison will have a repeat showing at 10 p.m. June 23.