Sunday Film Screening

Sunday, May 25 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM

TIFF Bell Lightbox

Forbidden Love: Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives, co-directed by Lynne Fernie & Aerlyn Wiessman (National Film Board of Canada, 1992)

Many Berkshire Conference attendees will be familiar with this ground-breaking film and some of us will have used it in our classrooms. Yet, public audiences rarely see the film, as it has not been available for public exhibition for the past seven years. This special screening and Q & A is co-presented by the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, the Inside Out Festival, The National Film Board of Canada and Women in View.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with co-director Lynne Fernie and Aerlyn Weissman and B. Ruby Rich, Professor in the Social Documentation Program &  Film and Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and editor of the journal Film Quarterly. The moderator will be Susan Cole, Author and Senior Entertainment Editor, NOW Magazine.

$10 online or at the door (We recommend you purchase tickets in advance on the Inside Out Festival website)

Poster of Forbidden Love

Moving, often hilarious and always rebellious, the nine women in  Forbidden Love paint a portrait of lesbian sexuality and survival in Canada during the  1950s and 60s when lesbian love was ‘the love that dared not speak its name.’

Against a backdrop of archival photographs, film clips, tabloid headlines and the covers from lesbian paperback novels, these women tell stories about their first loves and their search for the beer parlours and bars in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal where openly “gay” women were tolerated. With the humour and clarity of true survivors, they describe the bars, their reactions to the butch/femme sub-culture and talk about the police harassment.

These vibrant stories are playfully interwoven with a fictional love story inspired by the then-popular paperback novels. An interview with novelist Ann Bannon and the reminiscences of the women who read the books raise the contradictions between fictional portraits of lesbian lives and women’s actual histories .

Forbidden Love proudly claims a community once consigned to the“twilight world” of silence. In doing so, it challenges traditional history and presents a subversive history of sexuality in Canada.

Forbidden Love in the Media and Online:


Canadian Gay & Lesbian Archives Exhibition:




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