Skip to main content

BEEFCAKE

Canada, 1998 (MIFF 1999, Documentaries)

Director: Thom Fitzgerald

Having stirred the emotions of MIFF audiences fast year with his debut feature The Hanging Garden, Thorn Fitzgerald blends documentary and fiction in an entertaining and provocative homage to 1950s muscle magazines. This Berlin Film Festival hit demonstrates his wide cinematic palette; taking on different styles and genres, Fitzgerald delves into an era before his birth, when being gay meant either 'buoyant and happy' or 'covert and coded'.

Addressing the latter, the film's focus is on the career of Bob Mizer, photographer and creator of the Athletic Models Guild, an agency for beautiful young men who posed for magazines with names like Physique Pictorial. When not posing in Mizer's sludio, near-naked young studs frolicked around the pool, sneaking drugs and boyfriends into their 'dorms'. Fitzgerald subverts the entire notion of a supposedly wholesome 50s. He also charts the ironies of a campaign by cops and courts, itching to shut down the alleged 'muscle mag Mafia'!

Fitzgerald approaches Ihis inherently fascinating topic confidently, blending archival footage, interviews with those who were on the spot, and skillfully staged dramatisations. Josh Peace plays star-struck Nova Scotian beefcake Neil O'Hara alongside Daniel Maclvor as Bob Mizer, The stage is set for a tale of the dark side of camp. More than a neglected corner of queer history, Beefcake is a film about those revered for their bodies but scorned for their passions. Like the magazine culture uncovered, Beefcake is kitschy, good-humoured and sexy.

See also...

THE HANGING GARDEN

On his sister's wedding day, Sweet William returns to his rural Nova Scotian home after a ten year absence. He left as an obese, unhappy and closeted teenager; now he's a thin attractive and openly ... More »

LET IT COME DOWN: THE LIFE OF PAUL BOWLES

Against the backdrop of the exotic landscape of North Africa, the enigma of iconoclastic writer Paul Bowles begins to unravel. Most well known tor his masterful The Sheltering Sky, which Bernardo ... More »

BRAKHAGE

Stan Brakhage is considered a living legend and one of the most important avant-garde filmmakers. Since 1952 Brakhage has created over 300 films, constantly and consistently redefining Ihe shape of ... More »

CINéMA-VéRITé: DEFINING THE MOMENT

A feature documentary about documentary, Cinema-Verite: Defining the Moment is a major retrospective of some of the century's finest non-fiction films. The influence of the cinema verite approach in ... More »

THE FALLS

... ... Niagara Falls. Eighth wonder of the world. Kitsch capital of Canada. Hundreds of metric tonnes of cascading cliche per minute. The Falls captures the terrible beauty of this natural marvel ... More »

HALF THE KINGDOM

"Is being Jewish and a feminist mutually exclusive?" asks Francine Zuckerman, co-director of this thought-provoking and engrossing enquiry into the role of women in the patriarchal traditions of ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director