Frequent Small Meals presents
FILM LOVE #54
TEAROOM: a document presented by William E. Jones
filmmaker in attendance
The police cameraman at work in Tearoom, courtesy William E. Jones
"Far and away the most historically revelatory work of art I've encountered all year" - Michael Sicinski, academichack.net
In Mansfield, Ohio, 1962, police hid behind a two-way mirror in a public restroom and filmed the men who had sex there - the so-called "tearoom trade." They used this film footage to arrest and prosecute some sixty men under the Ohio sodomy law. Black and white, rich and poor, prominent businessmen and street hustlers - "all had one thing in common," wrote police chief John P. Butler. "They were all going to jail."
While researching this sting operation for a documentary, filmmaker William E. Jones came into possession of the unedited footage shot by the police. Using this footage with very little intervention, he created the film Tearoom.
Race, class, and sex; surveillance, voyeurism, and justice; hatred, desire, and authoritarianism - the haunting and surprising imagery of Tearoom raises many issues even as it provides a shocking history lesson. But Tearoom is a document, not a documentary – Jones lets the unedited footage speak for itself, and the result is a complex yet emotional viewing experience. A work both ominous and poignant, Tearoom has been selected as a featured work in the 2008 Whitney Biennial.
Film Love is proud to host William E. Jones for this special screening. Jones will be on hand to introduce the film, answer questions and debut the new book on Tearoom, published by 2nd Cannons Press and featuring over 100 frame enlargements from the film as well as many historical documents relating to the Mansfield busts.
"fascinating and important...to watch the film is to be torn between angered solidarity with the subjects and feverish speculation about the varying levels of hypocrisy on view" - San Francisco Bay Guardian
More information on the film, as well as historical documents, can be found at the filmmaker's website.
Tearoom is intended for adults only.
frames from the Mansfield police surveillance footage used in Tearoom, courtesy William E. Jones
William E. Jones, Tearoom (1962/2007), 56 minutes, 16mm film transferred to video, color, silent
Co-sponsored by Outwrite Bookstore and The Office of LGBT Life, Emory University. In addition, Film Love is grateful to the generosity of several Atlanta individuals who helped make this event possible.
Tearoom is a Film Love event. The Film Love series provides access to rare but important films, and seeks to increase awareness of the rich history of experimental and avant-garde film. The series is curated and hosted by Andy Ditzler for Frequent Small Meals. Film Love was voted Best Film Series in Atlanta by the critics of Creative Loafing in 2006. Screening schedule and archives for the series may be found at www.frequentsmallmeals.com.