FREDERIC TCHENG /// Normative Processes and their Transgression in Queer Cinema

Conversation recorded with Frédéric Tcheng in New York on January 12, 2014.

In this conversation filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng and I reflect on what characterizes queer cinema. Despite the (fortunate) impossibility to attribute a systematic label on a film as “queer,” we attempt to dissociate films that integrate homosexual or transsexual narrative components within itself but yet remain within a relatively conventional structure, and thus contribute to a problematic yet interesting normalization of the LGBT community, from films that substantially transgress genre/gender through their very narrative structure. Such questions about normative processes and their subversion leads us beyond cinema to the domain of the social bodies.

Frédéric Tcheng is a French-born filmmaker. He co-produced, co-edited and shot Valentino: The Last Emperor, the 2009 hit documentary shortlisted for the Best Documentary Oscar. He is the co-director of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, a Samuel Goldwyn release. His collaborations includes such varied personalities as the poet Sarah Riggs, the fashion brands H&M, Jimmy Choo, Ferragamo and Vogue, among others. He is currently working on a feature documentary about haute couture and developing a screenplay about queer histories.



– 1989: Looking for Langston by Isaac Julien
– 1990: Paris is Burning by Jennie Livingston
– 1991: Poison by Todd Haynes
– 1992: Swoon by Tom Kalin
– 1995: Stonewall by Nigel Finch
– 1996: Lilies by John Greyson
– 2004: Tropical Malady by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
– 2012: How to Survive a Plague by David France
also quoted: The Mad Masters by Jean Rouch (1955)


– Andy Hartman, “Structural/Sexual Transgression: Todd Haynes’s Poison as a Critique of Homonormativity” (


– B. Ruby Rich, New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut, Durham: Duke University Press, 2013
– Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, New York: Vintage, 1990
– Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex, London: Routledge, 2011.

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