AJN Letter to the Editor: “Sondheim’s Sexuality”

It would be remiss to recount the life of the legendary playwright Stephen Sondheim (AJN 03/12) without also acknowledging that he was a gay man who only came out at the age of 40.

He met his partner Jeffrey Romley in 2004, whom he described as a great joy in his life.  They married in 2017 and it was in his husband’s arms that he died. Although he did not have children, he said if he had his time again he would definitely have been a parent, admitting he fell victim to historical stigmas around gay men parenting.

The erasure of Sondheim’s personal life and sexual orientation is disappointing, as they are just as important as his professional achievements.  Had he been married to a woman, it would have been noted along with the duration of their relationship.

Michael Barnett
Co-convenor, Aleph Melbourne

Australian Jewish News; December 17 2021

SOURCES

LGBTQ NATION: Legendary gay composer & Broadway genius Stephen Sondheim passes at 91

ABC Radio National – The Music Show: Jeremy Sams remembers Stephen Sondheim, and Braille music with Ria Andriani (42:22)

31st Melbourne Queer Film Festival – The Jewish & Israeli experience

We present the films in the 31st Melbourne Queer Film Festival that will appeal to a Jewish audience

MQFF 2021

The 31st Melbourne Queer Film Festival runs from November 18 to 29 2021. The following is a selection of films from the festival program that contain Jewish content, relevance, or are from Israel. The full program can be viewed here.


The Swimmer

90 Mins

Erez, a rising star in the Israeli swimming scene arrives at a godforsaken training camp held in a boarding school where the winning athlete gets a coveted ticket to the Olympics. There he meets the beautiful and talented Nevo, who awakens long repressed desires in him, throwing his Olympic chances (and libido) into turmoil. This attraction is complicated further by their stern swimming coach who does not believe in fraternizing between competitors and is warned to stay away or risk his Olympic dreams. Will Erez act upon his feelings for Nevo and risk losing everything he has strived for becomes the urgent question at the heart of this vibrant and engaging film. Speedos, water, desire… The Swimmer is a winning romantic drama that will leave you cheering right up to the finish line.

Year: 2020 | Country: Israel | Genre: Drama/Romance | Theme: Gay | Language: Hebrew/English Subtitles | Premiere: Australian | Director: Adam Kalderon | Courtesy: M-Appeal

  • Fri 19 Nov | 9PM | Village Cinemas Vmax 10
  • Tue 23 Nov | 6:30 PM | ACMI Cinema 1
  • Sat 27 Nov | 2:30 PM | Cinema Nova Cinema 8

[PDF archive of MQFF page]


Ma Belle, My Beauty

[This film is not specifically Jewish but features a prominent Jewish character]

93 Mins

Lane, Bertie and Fred once shared a polyamorous relationship in New Orleans. Lane loved Bertie, Fred loved Bertie, they had a balance that worked… until it didn’t, and Lane vanished from their lives. Two years later, Bertie and Fred have gotten married and are living at Fred’s family home in the countryside of southern France. When Lane unexpectedly shows up in Bertie’s seemingly idyllic new life, she finds her former lover much different than she remembers. Bertie is disillusioned in her jazz career and clearly alienated in this small, white, European town. However, their spark is quickly ignited and when Lane attempts to recreate their old, carefree dynamic, complications arise. This is compacted further by Lane’s increasing flirtations with Noa, a sultry young artist and former soldier. Winner of the audience award at Sundance Film Festival, Marion Hill’s debut feature is a sensual, carefree delight.

Year: 2021 |Country: France/USA | Genre: Drama/Romance | Theme: Lesbian | Language: English | Premiere: Australian | Director: Marion Hill | Courtesy: WaZabi Films

  • Fri 19 Nov | 6:30 PM | Cinema Nova Cinema 8
  • Sun 21 Nov | 9PM | Cinema Nova Cinema 1
  • Sat 27 Nov | 7:30 PM | Village Cinemas Vpremium 11

Virgin My Ass

17 Mins

Ophir and Harel are best friends, but that could all change when Ophir asks for a special favor.

Year: 2021 | Country: Israel | Theme: Gay | Language: Hebrew/English Subtitles


Great Freedom

116 Mins

In post-war Germany Hans is imprisoned again and again for being homosexual. Due to the notorious paragraph 175 his desire for freedom is systematically destroyed. The one steady relationship in his life becomes his long-time cellmate, Viktor, a convicted murderer. What starts as animosity develops over the years into something called love. Director Sebastian Meise asks you to imagine a world where love is forbidden by law and punished with imprisonment. What sounds like a dystopia was a reality for gay men in Germany right up until the late 60s. Bolstered by a magnetic and soulful performance by Franz Rogowski as Hans and rightfully winning the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival this year, Great Freedom is a stunning drama that is destined to become a queer classic.

Meise’s film is an exquisite marriage of personal, political and sensual storytelling – Variety

Year: 2021 | Country: Austria | Genre: Drama/Romance | Theme: Gay | Language: German/English Subtitles | Premiere: Melbourne | Director: Sebastian Meise | Courtesy: Madman Entertainment

  • Sun 21 Nov | 5:45 PM | Village Cinemas Vpremium 9
  • Wed 24 Nov | 8:45 PM | Cinema Nova Cinema 8
  • Sat 27 Nov | 9:30 PM | ACMI Cinema 1

Publisher snaps up writer Roz Bellamy’s memoir ‘Mood’ | OUTinPerth

Publisher Wakefield Press has announced the acquisition of world rights to Roz Bellamy’s Mood, a memoir exploring the intersections of mental illness, queerness, gender diversity and Jewish identity.

Wakefield Press associate publisher Jo Case says that when she noticed Bellamy was writing a memoir, she was intrigued, and thought about asking to read it. She’d admired Bellamy’s essay in Growing Up Queer in Australia (Black Inc.), and their essay exploring queer and Jewish identity in Living and Loving in Diversity, an anthology published by Wakefield Press in 2018 (edited by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli).

Roz Bellamy is a first-generation Jewish Australian who grew up in a progressive family, attending an orthodox school. Roz, who identifies as nonbinary, met their wife, Rachel, as a university student, as the pair made their first tentative forays into queer culture – and fell in love – through a Buffy the Vampire Slayer online message board.

Publisher snaps up writer Roz Bellamy’s memoir ‘Mood’

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021: James Ostroburski OAM | J-Wire

Queen’s Birthday Honours – the Jewish list for 2021

June 14, 2021 

MEDAL [OAM] OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION

James OSTROBURSKI, St Kilda East VIC 3183

James Ostroburski

For service to the community through charitable organisations.

Philanthropy

  • Founder, Ostroburski Family Fund.
  • Founding Member, New Generation of Giving Program, Victorian Division, Philanthropy Australia, 2013.
  • Deputy Chairman and Co-Founder, Surgeons Impact Fund, since 2018.
  • Member, Arts Philanthropy Review Panel, Victorian Ministry for the Arts, 2014

Melbourne Recital Centre

  • Patron, since 2013.
  • Member, Amplify Program for Emerging Artists, 2015.

Dancehouse

  • Chairman, 2014-2017.
  • Director, 2013-2018.

The Arts

  • BoardBank Volunteer, Australian Business Arts Foundation, 2009-2011.
  • Governor, Arts Centre Melbourne Foundation, 2013-2016.
  • Trustee, Bundanon Trust, 2014-2016.
  • Director, Australian Chamber Orchestra, 2015-2020.
  • Director, Institute of Creative Health, since 2016.
  • Director, National Theatre, since 2016.
  • Director, Festival of Jewish Arts and Music, since 2020.

Other

  • Director, Jewish Museum of Australia, 2015-2020.
  • Non-Executive Director, Cannvalate, current.
  • Chairman, Nexus Global Youth Summit, 2015-2016.

Banking

  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kooyong Group, since 2017.
  • Head of Medical Finance, Grimsley Wealth, 2015-2016.
  • Investec Bank (Australia), 2010-2015.
  • Credit Union Australia Ltd, 2009-2010.

James Ostroburski started his philanthropic journey at a young age when a sense of community and making an impact was instilled in him and says that his communal involvement is part of his day-to-day life, not something he does separately.

“I think that it is wonderful to be recognised for something I do out of love of community and it is very humbling. The Awards system is important because it recognises people who quietly, or otherwise, support the communities in their lives.

“I am somewhat surprised to be recognised at my age. It is a great way for other young Australians to see that they can make a difference now and not wait until they retire” he told J-Wire.

LGBTIQ groups call for Holocaust museums’ recognition of Nazi atrocious committed against homosexuals | J-Wire

Eytan Fox showcase at 2021 Mardi Gras Film Festival

The 28th Queer Screen – Mardi Gras Film Festival (18 Feb – 4 Mar) kicks off soon! Select films are screening online, available nationally for the first time.

This year, the festival is excited to have the Director Focus showcasing the works of Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox.

Screening is his latest film Sublet, alongside three retrospective works Yossi & Jagger, The Bubble and Time Off.

  • Eytan Fox - Yossi & Jagger
  • Eytan Fox - Time Off
  • Eytan Fox - The Bubble
  • Eytan Fox - Sublet

Queer Sessions @ JIFF 2021

Jewish International Film Festival 2021
February 17 – March 24, 2021

Minyan

USA, 118 mins, dir. Eric Steel (English & Hebrew w/ English subtitles)

A young Russian Jewish immigrant in Brighton Beach, caught up in the tight constraints of his community, develops a close friendship with his grandfather’s new neighbours, two elderly closeted gay men who open his imagination to the possibilities of love and the realities of loss — and explores the East Village where he finds a world teeming with the energy of youth, desire and risk. Set in the late 1980s, as AIDS hammered New York City, Minyan is a powerful story of rebellion and self-discovery, sexual and spiritual awakening — and survival.

Shiva Baby

USA, 77 mins, dir. Emma Seligman (English)

The last person Danielle expects to run into at a family shiva is her sugar daddy Max, whose apartment she was coming from. Avoiding him – and his beautiful wife and baby – is impossible, as is keeping her nagging parents, prying family friends and angry ex-girlfriend Maya away. This sharp-witted dark comedy from first-time feature writer/director Emma Seligman is a quirky yet sensitive exploration of the pressure young people face today.