NOW BOOKING: Birkbeck presents Sex & Syphilis At The Cinema
Birkbeck Institute Of The Moving Image hosts an online screening of two interwar public health films + Q&A about their social contexts (26 FEB 18:00 – FREE!).
By RADIANT CIRCUS // Twitter @radiantcircus | Instagram @radiantcircus
As if people weren’t sufficiently afeared of returning to the cinema, along comes one of the most truly horrifying sounding events in recent history (or maybe not, depending upon your predilections…). Interestingly, the event title nudges at nightmarish visions of both the Sodom of the mainstream multiplex and the Gomorrah of the indie arthouse. Which is why we signed up *immediately*…
But enough about our prurient interests… the wonderful folk at Birkbeck will actually be presenting an online film screening of two rarely seen interwar public-health films, TRIAL FOR MARRIAGE (1936) and TEST FOR LOVE (1937). Both address “the problem of venereal diseases and the important role that the new VD Service was playing in reducing disease prevalence and breaking down the social taboos and sexual double standards that deprived people — mostly women — of the knowledge to protect themselves against infection.”
These films come from a much overlooked period of film history that packaged up “uncompromising morality tales… as light entertainment, intending that audiences would identify with one of the protagonists and realise how close they themselves might have come to danger.” Such traditions date back to the origins of cinema itself and were, in part, the subject of our RADIANT CIRCUS Barker-In-Chief’s own presentation at Birkbeck back in 2019 about the conventions of itinerant cinema showmanship.
Guiding us through the moral maze of these movies – where sexual transgression followed by “a period of suffering and self-recrimination” might lead to “eventual atonement” – will be Dr Anne Hanley (Birkbeck), Dr Peter Fifield (Birkbeck) and Dr Tim Boon (Science Museum). They will host a short roundtable/Q&A discussion about the historical, social and cultural context in which these films were produced and viewed by interwar cinema goers.
Sex & Syphilis At The Cinema is hosted by BIMI and presented by Birkbeck’s Department of History, Classics and Archaeology’s Discover the Past spring 2021 events series (26 FEB 18:00-19:30 – FREE!).
Quick links to the venue/box office.
Sex & Syphilis At The Cinema
Online screening of TRIAL FOR MARRIAGE (1936) and TEST FOR LOVE (1937) + panel Q&A (26 FEB 18:00-19:30 – FREE!).
Register online for the event. You will be emailed a link to the screenings nearer the time.
Online events at Birkbeck Institute Of The Moving Image (MAY to JUN 2021)
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