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Saturday 24 February 2018

Reel Life: Which sci-fi has angered gay filmgoers in the US?

Orson Scott Card's novel 'Ender's Game' has been adapted into a movie starring hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield
Orson Scott Card's novel 'Ender's Game' has been adapted into a movie starring hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield

Declan Cashin

There hasn't been a call for a good, old-fashioned blockbuster boycott in a long time, but this might be the year to change all that if the stink kicking up around the adaptation of the popular sci-fi novel Ender's Game is anything to go by.

The movie – starring Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld – is due out in November, but already there's a growing controversy in the US about the project, owing to views expressed by the author of the original 1985 novel, Orson Scott Card.

In short, Card, a Mormon, has long been a vocal opponent of gay marriage. As recently as 2008, he wrote: "Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with that government that will respect and support marriage."

Holding such views is all very well, until you have a massive movie to sell, and its studio backers Lionsgate are rightly in a panic about how to neutralise any real or perceived homophobia-stench – especially now that gay activists in the US are calling for a boycott of the movie so that Card will not benefit financially from its success (a movie adaptation is bound to result in a bump in sales of the book).

Producers have distanced themselves from Card's views, and stressed that he has nothing to do with the movie adaptation.

Card, who has lost out on a gig writing a Superman story for DC Comics due to the same views, has tried to get himself out of trouble by saying that, in light of recent US court decisions in favour of marriage equality, his opinions are "moot" anyway, before rather brazenly asking for "tolerance" for his beliefs.

Keep an eye on this one – it doesn't look like it's dying down anytime soon.

Q Speaking of the gays, GAZE, Dublin's international LGBT film festival, is taking place in the Light House Cinema over the August bank holiday weekend (from Thursday to Monday, Aug 1-5, to be precise).

The highlights of its 21st annual event include the documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, which traces the evolution of Wonder Woman, from her conception as a heroine in the 1940s to modern incarnations (speaking of, actress Lynda Carte (left) turned 62 this week – and on the same date as Reel Life's mammy).

The film examines how "popular representations of powerful women often reflect society's anxieties about women's liberation", and features interviews with Carter and Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman).

Others well worth catching are the utterly devastating Aids documentary How To Survive A Plague, James Franco's (below left) Interior. Leather Bar as well as In Their Room: London and the closing night film, I Am Divine, about the legendary drag artist Divine. For the full line-up, see www.gaze.ie.

Q Lastly, Sligo is currently hosting (until August 9) the 'Tread Softly' festival, celebrating the link between the town and the Yeats family. The film element of it features a screening of the documentary WB Yeats: No Country for Old Men at The Model, followed by performances by poet Stephen James Smith and singer Enda Reilly, and a discussion with director Maurice Sweeney. These are on July 28 and August 4.

See treadsoftly.ie.

Irish Independent

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