By Terry Sanderson
The multi-award winning gay documentary Suddenly Last Winter gets a British premiere this Sunday at a free showing in London, prior to its release on DVD. And its stars and producers will be on hand to answer questions.
Luca Ragazzi and Gustav Hofer are a gay couple living in Rome who are thrilled when the Italian government announces that it is considering granting legal rights to same-sex couples. A contract called a DICO is proposed.
Gustav and Luca decide that the event will be such a momentous development for gay people in Italy that they will make a documentary about it.
But it soon becomes apparent that the Vatican and the Pope have set their face against the DICO and Gustav and Luca are in for a very hard wake up call. The “protective bubble” in which they recognise they live is unceremoniously burst when they start to explore beyond their families and coterie of friends and discover how deeply homophobic many of their fellow countrymen really are.
They are shocked and depressed by the hatred that the Catholic Church is able to generate against the law – and against the people it is supposed to benefit. The Church is joined by fascists and extreme right-wingers in mounting increasingly hate-filled opposition.
Not only are they shocked by the homophobia that the proposed law generates, it is brought home to them just how much influence the Vatican still wields over Italian politics.
They try, as weeks pass into months, to keep track of the convoluted political process that will eventually grant or deny them their rights, but become gradually more demoralised and disenchanted by the politicians.
Only when a million people turn up for the gay pride day do they come to realise that they are not as isolated with their anger and disappointment as they had felt.
Although the film does not have a happy ending, gorgeous Gustav and lovely Luca are charming enough and optimistic enough not to be beaten by the many let-downs they have to endure. You’ll be just a little bit in love with them by the end credits.
It is a deeply saddening film but also one that illustrates the kind of resilience that we are all going to need to ensure that gay rights are complete and secure for everyone.
Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi will be interviewed in person after the film and the event will also include the presentation of a Rainbow Award to brave Nigerian gay activist Leo Igwe.
Suddenly Last Winter is presented as part of the International Day against Homophobia by the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association.
Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, Sunday 16 May 6.30pm for 7pm.. Admission is free but arrive early to be sure of a seat.