The Real Anne Lister

The Real Anne Lister

UK, 2010, 60 Minute Running Time
US Premiere
Genre/Subjects: Arts & Literature, Biography / History, Discrimination, Documentary, Drama, Gender, Lesbian
Program: Documentary
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Matthew Hill

Who was the real Anne Lister? See one version of her story in Frameline34’s engaging Opening Night film, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister. Then follow comedy writer Sue Perkins as she guides you through this dry-witted documentary, digging up even more of the real dirt on a British lesbian who was well ahead of her time.

Born to a landowning family in Halifax in 1791, Lister lived in the same era as the Bronte sisters, but her writings — and, boy, did she write — were a far cry from Wuthering Heights. In a series of elaborate and often encrypted diaries (“The Rosetta Stone of lesbian history,” says her biographer), Lister detailed every one of her sexual relationships.

It took over four million words to capture her dalliances, beginning at the ripe young age of thirteen with her roommate at an elite girls’ boarding school (from which she, naturally, was sent home in short order). Journeying across the Yorkshire countryside, Perkins attempts to trace the life and loves of Lister, from her experimental youth to her radical industrialist-landowner days with her live-in lover (okay, wife).

Thanks to the meticulous decoding efforts of Lister’s biographer, Helena Whitbread, and the insights of a handful of local historians and scholars, Perkins is able to paint an intriguing picture of a complex character, who is at once pioneering, self-serving, rebellious, manipulative and bold — but certainly never boring. — JOANNE PARSONT

Text Voting Code: D305

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