Commissioned by Fringe! Film and Arts Fest

Looking at nine filmic instances, this combined lecture and screening will explored a range of films where queer desire has been articulated through the representation of trance states. Blurring distinctions between wake and sleep, night and day, and imagination and actuality, these films envision ways of experiencing desire; pushing, twisting and bending the limits of perception and disorienting the precepts of ‘normal’ day-to-day life.

From the wandering young men who move in and through landscapes of desire in post-war underground films such as Christmas USA (USA, Gregory Markopoulos, 1949) and Dream A40 (UK, Lloyd Reckford, 1965) to the gothic hysteria induced in the presence of female-female desire in popular films such as Cat People (USA, Jacques Tourneur, 1942) and The Haunting (UK, Robert Wise, 1963), trance episodes regularly mark an entry point for the elaboration of a variety of queer states and modalities.

The program covered a variety of examples from the post-war years to the present, spanning horror, underground film, porn, independent film and classic Hollywood in order to explore how trance imagery has worked, and continues to work, as a potent vehicle of queer elaboration.

Ryan Powell is assistant professor of Cinema and Media Studies at The Media School, Indiana University, where he is also affiliated faculty with the departments of Gender Studies, American Studies, and The Culutral Studies Program. His research and teaching interests span film and video historiography; minor and microcinemas; audiovisual media in socio-sexual culture; queer theory, history and politics; cultural geography (with a focus on non and anti-metropolitan modalities); intersections between industrial and non-industrial cinema; spatiality and representation; and independent, underground and experimental cultural production and performance.