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'Birds Eye View celebrates sirens past and present'



This Saturday's screening of the 1922 silent movie Salome showcased the talents of iconic lesbian actress, Alla Nazimova. The femme fatale was in good company, introduced by modern day siren and burlesque star Immodesty Blaize, who not only looked stunning but spoke eloquently about the film's flaws and strengths. The film was based on Oscar Wilde's one-act play, which had been published accompanied by fantastically surreal and stylized illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley. Natacha Rambova created the sets and costumes in keeping with Beardsley's aesthetic vision, resulting in a film that's almost two dimensional at times, a moving painting more than what we associate with motion pictures today. But the lack of dialogue, action, CGI effects, airbrushing and so on made it a thoroughly refreshing experience. And the new soundtrack performed live by Bishi and her band was just breathtaking- I hadn't heard her live before and was just blown away by the vocals and her sitar playing, which perfectly complemented the exotic feel of the film.
Whilst the film itself may be a million miles from modern day cinema, the sexual politics and gossip surrounding the production at the time wouldn't look out of place on the pages of Heat. Despite her lavender marriage to director Charles Bryant, Nazimova embarked on numerous high profile lesbian affairs, with rumours of orgies at her house titillating audiences from the 1920s to today.Nazimova became one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, earning more than most of her female peers, even writing, producing and financing many of her own films.Nazimova, Immodesty Blaize and Bishi- a heady combination of women challenging preconceptions from almost a century ago to this day- thought provoking and inspiring in typical Bird's Eye View fashion.
Read about what inspires Immodesty Blaize here:
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