Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives

  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $175.00
  • Date: Copyright 1992. Released 1992.
  • Descriptors: Lesbianism. Homosexuality. Women - Sexual behavior.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer, Stills. Produced by Aerlyn Weissman, Lynne Fernie. Directed by Aerlyn Weissman, Lynne Fernie. Color, b&w. 85 min.
  • Production Company: National Film Board of Canada 1251 Avenue of the Americas, 16th Floor New York, NY 10020-1173 (212)586-5131
  • Available from: Women Make Movies 462 Broadway, 5th Floor New York, NY 10013 (212)925-0606
  • Cataloging: 306.766'3"09 Lesbians - Canada||Women - Canada||Documentary films
  • Print Entry #: 5:755
  • Reviewer: Amy M. Kautzman

    In the 1950s whenever a pulp novel was written about lesbian lives, one development was always guaranteed: a tragic ending. To repudiate those sordid endings and other social myths, Aerlyn Weissman and Lynne Fernie have produced this spectacular documentary on lesbians. Ten amazing Canadian women share their early lives with us, proving that lesbian life before gay rights, though not easy, was not a dreary experience without love and laughter.

    As a historical document, this video imaginatively introduces the audience to the women as they recount their experiences. Scenes vary from the blurbs and titles of pulp novels to the women. The women include Amanda White, a Canadian-Indian (Haida Nation); Keeley Moll, the archetypical cowpoke; and Costa Rican Nairobi Nelson. Photographs of the women as young adults and archival films and photographs are used to place us in Toronto's 1950 skid-row bars. Interspersed between the women's stories is a potboiler romance with a happy ending. The romance is much in the novelistic style of Ann Bannon, who is interviewed in the video.

    Forbidden Love is a product of the National Film Board of Canada, a consistently professional organization known for the quality of its products. This video is no different. Tightly edited, it makes the most of the different formats it uses, including live action, stills, talking heads, black and white, and color. The incorporation of old footage makes the past come alive. One scene of a police raid is especially frightening when an officer is heard muttering, "I know what you need" as he arrests one lesbian.

    This is the best lesbian documentary I've ever seen. From the winning interviews to the campy fictive romance, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a piece of lesbian history, complete with mention of racism and the problems and joys of butch and fem behavior. I strongly recommend this video for all public and college libraries. While I believe that most high schools should own this video, viewers should be aware of a well-done love scene at the end of the documentary.

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