Weekend, written and directed by Andrew Haigh, was a striking and lyrical start to the Gund Gallery’s Contemporary Queerness film series, which kicked off Saturday afternoon at the Community Foundation Theater.
In collaboration with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), the Gallery will screen a total of five films which engage with the topic of LGBTQ+ identity in the 21st century.
The unifying theme of the series works in conjunction with one of the Gallery’s current exhibition, Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A., which is on display through April 12.
While Axis Mundo focuses on queer Chicanx artists and activists from the 1960s to the 1990s, the film series features films from the 2010s, providing an updated look at queer experiences and art.
Gund Gallery Associates on the Film Curation team, supervised by Associate Leader Jamie Sussman ’21, were responsible for determining which films to screen as part of the series. Sussman was particularly excited about the opportunity to focus on films that portray the daily interactions of queer people.
“Contemporary Queerness is really about exploring the daily as part of the political, artistic and social struggle of LGBTQ+ communities,” Sussman said. “It’s about how the personal becomes political.”
The Film Curation team made it a priority to showcase a variety of queer experiences. The five films come from the UK, the USA, Chile and Uganda and feature narratives of both queer and trans individuals. “We’re hoping that people find a multiplicity of perspectives in the series,” Sussman said.
Set in Nottingham, United Kingdom, Weekend follows two men who meet and say goodbye within the span of 48 hours. On a Friday night, Russell, a lifeguard in his mid-twenties, meets Glen, an artist, at a nightclub and invites him home; after spending the night and following afternoon together, Glen admits that he will be moving to the United States at the end of the weekend. They spend one final night together before a heart-wrenching goodbye.
As both a writer and director, Haigh successfully conveys the unique vulnerability—and beauty—of queer love. The aesthetics of the film mirror this emotional complexity; Haigh points his camera toward alienating tower blocks and gray, car-filled streets, an industrial, working-class England which is only ambiguously accepting of queer identities. The film is not without moments of joy, but those moments are possible only in the warmth and privacy of Russell’s apartment.
While Weekend feels squarely grounded in the specific experiences of its main characters, the story is powerful enough to resonate beyond any one marker of identity. More than anything, it’s a quiet meditation on the fragile, sometimes transitory nature of love.
Attendees of the series can look forward to similarly moving films, including those by award-winning directors Yargos Lanthimos and Dee Rees. Future screenings will be held at the Community Foundation Theater at 3 p.m. on Feb. 15, March 21 and April 25, with the exception of The Favourite, which will be screened Thursday, Jan. 30, at 10 p.m.