John Greyson

Article excerpt

Growing up gay in Canada, John Greyson had a "dirty little secret" that he kept from his high school peers--he painted and wrote fiction. Like so many sensitive boys, he found solace in his imagination. Twenty years later, when Greyson saw Les Fleurettes, a Canadian stage play by Quebecois author Michel Marc Bouchard, it reminded him of the romantic melodramas he used to write.

"It really touched a nerve for me," the director of the films Urinal and Zero Patience says, "Writing was a way of turning that sort of extreme loneliness on its head--it's a survival strategy."

Greyson was so moved by Les Fleurettes that he made it into a film, Lilies. Winner of Canada's Genie award for best film of 1996 as well as of the Grand Jury prize at Outfest '97 in Los Angeles and the audience award at the 1997 San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Lilies is shaping up as Greyson's first high-profile success in 15 years of filmmaking.

Lilies opens October 10 in San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., October 17 in New York, and a week later in Los Angeles.

A gay love story that plays with notions of gender, memory, and time, Lilies unfolds in 1952 in a Canadian prison, where an aging bishop hears the last confession of Simon, a dying inmate. The two men had been schoolmates 40 years before, we discover, when the future bishop betrayed Simon and sabotaged Simon's romance with a beautiful boy.

It's payback time: Holding the bishop hostage, Simon forces him to watch as his fellow prisoners reenact the events of 1912--a tragedy that marked both their lives forever. …