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Nitrate Kisses 1992

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Nitrate Kisses explores images of lesbian and gay culture in this first feature-length film by Hammer, a pioneer of lesbian cinema. Archival footage from the first gay film in the U.S., Lot in Sodom (1993), by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber, as well as footage from German narrative and documentary films of the ’30s are interwoven in this multi-faceted construction. Questions of a forbidden and invisible history of a marginalized people are put in context by the contemporary sexual activities – photographed by Hammer – of four gay and lesbian couples.

The role of sexuality in the historic present is juxtaposed with the oral histories of Maria, a lesbian Latina born in 1904, who recounts her experiences of Greenwich Village bars before Stonewall; of Ruth, who speaks of the fear of being discovers lesbian while in the Army; of Sandy who speaks of her attempts, in cross-dressing, to bind her breasts; and of Jerre, who tells of confronting the shipping industry during WWII about sexual discrimination.

Nitrate Kisses makes the viewer, gay or straight, want to save scraps. Letters, books, records and snapshots in order to preserve ordinary lives as “history”. The imaginative possibilities of revealed and new languages, histories and biographies in recovered documents suggests a new visibility for gays and lesbians of yesterday and today.



Tags: Barbara Hammer