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Feline Masquerade

Swiss misses who give men a miss emerge from their mask of social invisibility in "Feline Masquerade," a haphazard but generally entertaining primer on 20th-century Alpine lesbianism. Talking-head approach is coupled with mainly continental European-centered film clips, giving pic a different perspective from other English-language docus of a similar ilk. Gay-themed fests will lap this one up and tube sales to Euro pubcasters seem likely.

Swiss misses who give men a miss emerge from their mask of social invisibility in “Feline Masquerade,” a haphazard but generally entertaining primer on 20th-century Alpine lesbianism. Talking-head approach is coupled with mainly continental European-centered film clips, giving pic a different perspective from other English-language docus of a similar ilk. Gay-themed fests will lap this one up and tube sales to Euro pubcasters seem likely.

Docu sets out its agenda by introducing a contemporary youngster for whom coming out was, apparently, no more difficult than any other adolescent romance. An array of her historical predecessors then speak about their somewhat more challenging experiences in a country where women were not granted suffrage until 1971. Narrative meanders, but generally moves chronologically, from Nazi oppression of homosexuals (which placed social pressure on neighboring Switzerland) to the present day. Film is amply illustrated, and benefits considerably from snaps of lesbian nightclub life by photographer/interviewee Liva Tresch, though in its international contextualization of the Swiss experience it naturally overlaps with similar Anglo docus. All tech credits are professional.

Feline Masquerade

Switzerland

Production: A Cobra Film production, in association with SF DRS Zurich. (International sales: Cobra, Zurich.) Produced by Valerie Fischer. Directed, written by Veronika Minder.

Crew: Camera (color), Helena Vagnieres; editor, Michael Schaerer; music, Tina Kohler. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama Documentary), Feb. 17, 2005. Original title: Katzenball. Running time: 86 MIN.

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