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Early cinema of Jane Campion (1990) by Bill Gosden

Bill Gosden was, for almost 40 years, director of the New Zealand International Film Festival.  Upon the one-year anniversary of his death The Gosden Years was released by Victoria University Press.  It is a beautifully produced collection of his writing about cinema and the art of the film festival.  His huge contribution to Aotearoa cinema culture as an exhibitor and curator is widely appreciated.  This book acknowledges his contribution to writing about film and the innovative poster art that he often collaborated with designers and artists to create.  Below is an article not included in the book that he wrote in 1990.

Early cinema of Jane Campion (1990)

A tragic tale of suffocation by family, shot through with bizarre, black comedy, Sweetie is a daring, original and, I think, marvellous movie. It parodies neurotic behaviour while exhibiting an intense commitment to the neurotic point of view. It's a potent blend. Comedy heightens tragedy, tragedy heightens comedy until you can't tell one from the other.

In competition at Cannes, Sweetie's emptied-out performances and full-on visual style earned the contempt of French experts who recognised contrivance but lacked any understanding of the verbally inarticulate world Campion was contriving to express. Closer to home there have been plenty, equally uncomprehending, who found Sweetie equally infuriating. “The work of an enthusiastic amateur,” sniffed one New Zealand critic.

Sweetie, it seems, is a film you love or hate. There have been as many accolades as insults; the film has even won prizes in France. Because her work has such a distinctively Australian/New Zealand inflection (or twang, if you prefer), it's a relief to us hometown cheerleaders that Sweetie has accumulated admirers throughout the English-speaking world.

For if Jane Campion is an amateur then she is so only in the sense that not one of her films contains a hint of professional assignment. In ten years she has expressed a rich, strikingly individual view of the world in a remarkably varied, utterly coherent body of work.

Sex with Straight Guys

 Originally published in RFD #186, "Summer of Sleaze II", the international Radical Faerie magazine.


Recently I was sitting in a cafe overhearing a conversation between two straight guys. “I wanna get fucked tonight. I haven't been fucked in ages.” “Fuck yeah, dude, I really need to get fucked too.” They were talking about getting drunk, but it's not what it sounded like to me. What is it about straight guys? Is it simply wanting what I can't have? An addiction to disappointment and rejection? That particular nonchalance? Sometimes it feels extra special when someone chooses to engage with me because they are truly interested in me, rather than cos we like the same stuff sexually. Sometimes I think “straight guy” is a mental illness. The ones I love are gentle, loving, with intelligence and integrity. Why, then, are they so uptight? In my desire to fully explore the depths of connection with a special guy, I don't care if he's straight, but usually he does. For this reason we have found a strange, wonderful and dodgy array of ways in which to manifest our mutual desire to connect when our visions of connection are so different.


Darby first captured my erotic attention one stoned night in our student flat. He cornered me in the kitchen, picked up a knife and offered to cut me open and eat my intestines. Semi-erect and scared of death, I was frozen and silent, stupefied. Another night, when I was drunk and vomiting, hanging over his toilet, he thoughtfully and lovingly got me naked and into the shower to bring me back to life. Afterwards we stood together and he leaned in to kiss me. I leaned in and he leaned back, he leaned forward again and leaned back when I came close, a deliberate cruel tease. I joyously allowed myself to be manipulated while simultaneously developing a genuine friendship with this fascinating and narcissistic guy. Trying to start an orgy, he called me into the bathroom where he was hard and inside his girlfriend, inviting me to play with his balls. We became best friends and went out to a gay club together, just the two of us. “I'm definitely bi,” he shouted in my ear over the noise. “Some of these guys are hot!” Back at his place I don't know how he was feeling but I was horny as fuck, resulting in a very intense wrestling match in our underwear, throwing each other around the room, slamming against the walls. We never expressed physical intimacy together in private, though I did suck his cock briefly in another awkward group sex situation and I still remember the look of pleasure and disgust on his face. Eventually I got so in my head about the relationship that we couldn't even be friends anymore.