Wales

Show older lesbian women on screen, says Cardiff director

Brigit Forsyth and Dame Sian Phillips Image copyright Daxitales
Image caption Brigit Forsyth (left) and Dame Sian Phillips star as former lovers, reunited 60 years after splitting up

The director of an award-winning film about two eighty-something lesbians has called for more visibility of older LGBT people on screen.

Time & Again stars Dame Sian Phillips and was partly inspired by elderly gay people going back into the closet to avoid prejudice in care homes.

Its director Rachel Dax, from Cardiff, said she felt it was important for older lesbians to be seen.

She added that older characters in LGBT films tended to be male-focused.

Homosexual acts between men over the age of 21 in private were decriminalised in 1967, and, while lesbianism was not illegal in the UK, gay women still faced enormous prejudice.

The short film, which was written, directed and produced by Ms Dax in Cardiff, explores the oppression former lovers faced when they were younger - and their unexpected reunion in a care home 60 years after their relationship ended.

Dame Sian Phillips stars alongside Brigit Forsyth and their characters represent both sides of the stark choice young lesbians of that generation faced - marrying a man they did not love, or leaving behind their family and friends for a new life and their "true sexuality".

"I think the main thing is families would be ashamed," Ms Dax said.

"It was very much like forced marriage. They were told 'if you don't marry, we're disowning you'. Lots of lesbians went to London."

However Ms Dax said the film was really positive.

"It's not all doom and gloom and shows in your old age you can heal."

She added: "I think older women in general tend to be treated like they don't have any sexuality. I think it is important for lesbian visibility. Not all, but a lot of LGBT films with older characters are more male-focused."

Image copyright Rachel Dax
Image caption Rachel Dax's film about two elderly lesbians won an award at Outfest in Los Angeles

Dame Sian said she wanted to do the film as soon as she read the script: "I was delighted when I read it," she said.

"They [older lesbians] are underrepresented but that didn't occur to me when I read the script.

"I thought it was very well written and something I wanted to do on its own merit.

"Although it's a short I think Rachel has packed an enormous amount into the short space. It's very moving actually the way the story progresses."

The film premiered in Boston in the US in March and has been shown at nine further festivals, winning the audience award for best short narrative film at the Outfest film festival in Los Angeles.

Bafta-winning Welsh actress Dame Sian said she was "very proud to be associated with the film".

Brigit Forsyth has had a long-running stage and screen career, and is best-known for her role as Thelma in the 1970s comedy Whatever happened to the Likely Lads? and more recent roles in ITV's Boon and the BBC's Still Open All Hours.

Executive producer Leigh-Ann Regan said: "Romantic stories about elderly people are not something we see a lot of, let alone romance between the ageing LGBT populations.

"And they exist in their thousands, if not millions. This needs to change and I hope this film will play a part in that happening."

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