Focus: Sexuality

Jean-Luc Godard famously once said “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun.” Film critic Pauline Kael seemingly echoed this statement when she titled one of her books Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Both filmmaker and critic observed the obvious relationship of sexuality and violence to cinema itself, and in both cases the amorous element comes first. Our Focus: Sexuality series explores how sexuality over the course of the last century has paralleled the development of cinematic language. Featuring films from the 1920s up to the 1990s, this globe-spanning series presents key films that consider subjects such as female sexual autonomy, gender fluidity and performativity, amorous power dynamics, and toxic predation. These are firebrand movies, emphasizing how the presentation of sexuality and human relationships on-screen is limited by the specific sociocultural framework of their era. In their emotional and cinematic power, these films are still strongly resonant and provocative today.

Series Films


Marnie (1964)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Dec 1, 2019

One of the last acknowledged masterpieces in Hitchcock’s career, Marnie stars Tippie Hedren as the eponymous character: a frigid woman with a mysterious past, a penchant for kleptomania and colour coordinated panic attacks. As her husband Mark (Sean Connery) gamely tries to manage and control Marnie’s aberrant and destructive drives, it slowly becomes clear that Mark may be harbouring as much pathological impulse as Marnie herself.

Pandora’s Box (1929)
Directed by G.W. Pabst
Dec 5, 2019

Featuring a star performance from Louise Brooks that has come to definitively embody silent cinema’s notions of femininity, charisma, and eroticism, Pandora’s Box follows the adventures of the fun-loving, Charlston-dancing temptress Lulu whose social world entirely falls prey to her effortless and vibrant magnetism.

Directed by Toshio Matsumoto
dec 12, 2019

Funeral Parade of Roses follows the underground travails of Tokyo transsexual coquette Eddie (played by renowned androgynous Japanese performer Peter) and her band of non-conforming friends in an unforgettable pageant of decadent, wild, and still-prescient ideas regarding the nature of sexual and cultural identity.

Bad timing (1980)
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Jan 9, 2019

Aided by committed performances and a stirring soundtrack, Nicolas Roeg’s tale of dangerous passion that erupts between Milena Flaherty (Theresa Russell) and Dr. Alex Linden (Art Garfunkle) is as provocative, brash, and innovative as it was when it was originally released in 1980.

cruising (1980)
Directed by William Friedkin
Jan 16, 2019

Causing unmatched social furore upon its initial release, Cruising stars Al Pacino as a psychologically suggestible young police officer who is tasked with investigating brutal murders in the gay leather bars of New York’s Meatpacking district.

Orlando (1992)
Directed by Sally Potter
Jan 23, 2019

Establishing director Sally Potter as a daring cinematic force to be reckoned with and giving Tilda Swinton a role she was born to play, Orlando is set through 400 years of European history seen through the eyes of a protagonist who switches between genders as if it was “no difference at all.”