Thursday, June 18, 2020
Collecting Queer Cinema: A Conversation with Jenni Olson

Listen to the conversation here.

Anyone with a serious commitment to queer film programming has encountered the work of Jenni Olson. A longtime Bay Area resident, Olson is a filmmaker, writer, and archivist who has been preserving and exhibiting LGBT cinema since the late 1980s. Indeed, she has amassed one of the most significant personal collections of LGBT film prints, posters, and related media, which is the subject of our show this week. She’s also the author of The Queer Movie Poster Book, a contributor to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema, and the director of the award-winning essay films The Joy of Life and The Royal Road.

I’ve been fortunate to have known Jenni since the early 90s. We first met when I, as a young lad, interned for what was then called the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, the oldest and largest event of its kind in the world, where Jenni was co-director. The experience of working on that festival, for me and I’m sure others, was formative, opening my eyes to both the social power of film programming and its political complexities. Recently we caught up to discuss film collecting and its relationship to queer cinema heritage, as well as her project of restoring and re-releasing the films of pioneering gay director Arthur J. Bressan, Jr.

- Ed Halter

For the next week, Light Industry will be hosting a curio from Olson’s prodigious collection on our Vimeo page: Halloweenie (Bill Daughton, 1985), a short documentary about one of the gay community’s most impressive members.