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European Film  
 
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Davies' first feature film, the autobiographical Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), paralleled the director's own harsh life in Liverpool during the 1940s and 1950s. The film won international acclaim for its structural innovations and lyrical imagery. Davies followed that film with The Long Day Closes (1992), a somewhat more uplifting look at a working-class Catholic childhood, again set in Liverpool.

Davies continued his career with non-autobiographical films, including The Neon Bible (1995), inspired by the novel by John Kennedy Toole, and The House of Mirth (2000), based on the novel by Edith Wharton.

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Other notable glbtq-themed British films include the ground-breaking A Taste of Honey (1961), directed by Tony Richardson, about a young unwed pregnant woman who befriends and sets up house with a gay art student. The film, based on the play by Shelagh Delaney, rendered one of the first sympathetic portrayals of a homosexual character in the history of cinema.

John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), is the story of a young, bisexual sculptor who divides his affections between a divorced woman and a well-to-do male doctor. Maurice (1987), created by the distinguished gay partnership of James Ivory (director) and Ismail Merchant (producer), and based on the posthumously published novel by E.M. Forster, concerns an upper-class man coming to terms with his homosexuality in Edwardian England.

Stephen Frears' early feature films My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), the story of a cross-race, cross-class, and same-sex relationship in London, and Prick Up Your Ears (1987), a study of gay British playwright Joe Orton, who was murdered at the height of his fame by his mentor and lover Kenneth Halliwell, are also noteworthy additions to the history of gay cinema.

Sally Potter's film Orlando (1992), based on the fanciful novel by Virginia Woolf, features a metaphoric transsexual character who is born a nobleman in the Elizabethan age and changes sex midway through his/her life. "Same person, no difference at all. Just a different sex," Orlando remarks, after falling asleep as a man and waking as a woman. Orlando is played throughout the film by actress Tilda Swinton; Queen Elizabeth I is portrayed by the openly gay writer and performance artist Quentin Crisp.

Further key British works include Beautiful Thing (1996), directed by Hettie MacDonald, a love story between two teenage boys in a London housing project, and Brian Gilbert's Wilde (1997), about the poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, with the openly gay actor Stephen Fry in the title role.

Pedro Almodóvar and Eloy de la Iglesia

Pedro Almodóvar is the most internationally-acclaimed filmmaker to emerge from post-Franco Spain. He began his career making short films in the early 1970s. His earliest efforts became cult hits, but his third feature film, Entre tinieblas (Dark Habits, 1983), an offbeat comedy about a nightclub singer who seeks refuge in a convent of delinquent nuns (who indulge in such secular pleasures as hard-core drugs and soft-core porn), gained the director a wider audience.

Almodóvar's popularity increased with ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?!! (What Have I Done to Deserve This?, 1984) and Matador (1986), and established the filmmaker's distinct style of combining elements of camp, comedy, melodrama, and sexual intrigue that often exceed the boundaries of socially acceptable norms.

Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988), an elaborate farce deconstructing the clichés of female hysteria, became Almodóvar's first worldwide success. Throughout the 1990s, with such films as ¡Átame! (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, 1990), Tacones lejanos (High Heels, 1991), and Kika (1993), Almodóvar continued to craft brightly-colored confections with tragicomic plots often focusing on death, violence, rape, and betrayal.

With the release of Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother, 1999), Almodóvar brought a greater refinement and emotional subtlety to his work. The film centers on a woman who, after the tragic death of her teenage son, journeys through Barcelona's underworld in search of the son's father, now a transsexual. Almodóvar followed with Hable con ella (Talk to Her, 2002), a complex tale of love, obsession, and loss.

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