UCLA Festival of Preservation
Donna Deitch, US, 1986, 35mm, 96 min.
Based on Jane Rule’s novel Desert of the Heart
(1964), Donna Deitch’s narrative feature debut centers on a burgeoning lesbian
romance between libertine casino worker Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau) and
repressed university professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) in Reno, Nevada in
the late 1950s, a climate wherein being queer was...complicated. Landmark
in its positive portrayal of sapphic romance and celebrated for its passionate,
sensual bedroom scenes that nearly fog the camera’s lens, Deitch’s vision for
Cay and Vivian’s nuanced onscreen relationship explores the tension inherent in
a sheltered woman accepting her newfound sexual self.
Desert Hearts has been digitally restored by The
Criterion Collection/Janus Films and UCLA Film & Television Archive in
conjunction with Outfest UCLA Legacy Project and Sundance Institute.
The UCLA Festival of Preservation is Co-Presented by Louis Bluver.