Pride Spotlight: Phoenix Picturehouse's Out Season

Welcome to our Pride Spotlight series. Throughout June we'll be interviewing local businesses, charities and organisations that contribute meaningfully to Oxford's vibrant LGBTQIA+ community. Every Thursday in June, Oxford's oldest cinema Phoenix Picturehouse is showing a great LGBTQIA+ film, from 2014's Pride to 1994's The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, for their Out Season. We caught up with Helen from Phoenix to find out more.

Daily Information: What was the process of choosing films to feature in your 2024 Pride season?

Phoenix Picturehouse: I think with any season we try and balance it with a few classics that everyone knows and enjoys alongside a few gems they may have missed.
God’s Own Country for example is fairly recent, but had a pretty low-key release. Giving it another chance on the big screen will hopefully show more people what an exquisite film it is.
We’re particularly excited to show Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses as well: it’s a landmark of queer cinema that doesn’t get shown very often.

DI: Why is it important to you to show films beyond the most recent releases?

PP: Because seeing something on the big screen is such a different experience.
I think of Sean Baker’s Tangerine which was filmed really innovatively, on an iPhone. You might not think it’s classically ‘cinematic’ - but actually, the pounding soundtrack is an integral character of the film and sounds amazing on a proper sound system. There are some films that are just visually made for the big screen too - like we are currently showing a few Kubrick classics at the moment.
There’s also the importance of elevating great work that has in the past been marginalised - like LGBTQ+ cinema. Just look at Funeral Parade of Roses - it has been quoted to have had a huge influence of filmmakers (including Kubrick!) but has been slow to get the praise and love it rightly deserves.
Ultimately Phoenix (and our patrons!) also love the language of cinema, which continues to evolve over time. It’s important to us to show its past - so we can fully understand the present.

DI: What have previous Pride Months looked like at the Phoenix?

PP: We always try and show something to mark Pride month - whether it’s a one off - like in our cult late show slot - or a season, like we’ve done this year. Though we’re not pinned to one month of the year - we showcase LGBTQIA+ films all year round.
We’re really open to collaboration too - so if there’s any groups/organisations that would be interested in the future we’re always happy to hear from you!

Funeral Parade of Roses

DI: Are there any LGBTQIA films later in the year you're looking forward to?

PP: Yes, plenty! As a main feature, we plan to have Orlando, my Political Biography which is a really interesting, genre defying documentary from Paul B. Preciado that’s out in July.
And as one-off shows, we will hopefully be having the 1994 lesbian classic Go Fish which has received a 4K restoration this year.
Plus previews in July for I Saw The TV Glow and We’re All Going to the World’s Fair - both of which are typical psychological horrors you may expect from A24 but are also exploring coming of age, trans identity, and gender dysphoria in innovative ways.
We have a big 80s retrospective hopefully planned over the Summer months, with a John Waters classic or two thrown in for good measure - which I’m particularly looking forward to! Trying to dig out an original “Odorama” card from our archive - we gave these out when Polyester was originally released here over 40 years ago!
This time of year, the schedules still pretty open for the future. We tend to look at what’s been happening at the festivals as a bit of forecast. There was some really interesting titles in the Queer Palm at Cannes this year (The Balconettes, Emilia Pérez, Andrea Arnold’s Bird) watch this space!

DI: After Pride Month, what's next at the Phoenix?

PP: One thing about the Phoenix is we love to keep ourselves busy! Lots more retrospectives planned… We’re also partnering up with a couple of festivals later in the year which we are very excited about, plus we frequently host quizzes and events in our bar upstairs. Keep an eye on our Instagram to stay in the loop!

DI: Finally, describe Phoenix Picturehouse for us in 3 words.

PP: Eventful, Historic and Welcoming!.

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