Saturday 19th May
Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska (The Kids are Alright) are set to star in Carol, a film adaption of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt, a lesbian love story set in 1950s New York.
Lesbian playwright, Phyllis Nagy has written the adaption based on Highsmith's novel, originally published under a pseudonym. The reknowned suspense writer authored a string of psychological thrillers, including Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr Ripley.
Carol is a love story about pursuit, betrayal and passion that follows the burgeoning relationship between two very different women. One, a girl in her twenties working in a department store who dreams of a more fulfilling life, and the other, a wife trapped in a loveless, moneyed marriage desperate to break free but fearful of losing her daughter in the process. The story was very significant at the time the novel was published in 1952, because it was one of the first pieces of fiction to step away from the usual depiction of lesbian relationships simply as short-term flings and portray the relationship as a real love story. Highsmnith is known to have had relationships with both women and men.
Directed by BAFTA winning John Crowley (Intermission, Boy A), the film will be produced by award-winning producing partners Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley from Number 9 Films, one of the UK's leading independent production companies, and co-developed and co-financed by Film4. Filming starts February 2013 in London and New York.
Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley at Number 9 Films commented: "We are thrilled to be working with Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska, two of the most talented actors working today, in this striking adaptation of one of the twentieth century's most iconic writers, Patricia Highsmith. To be re-united with highly talented individuals, director John Crowley and writer Phylis Nagy is a testament to the quality of the project. We are delighted to have such a gifted team on board."
Tessa Ross at Film4 commented: "Carol is a beautiful and heart-breaking story and it's a testament to the talents of Phyllis and John that we've attracted actresses of Cate and Mia's calibre to star at the heart of it. We are delighted to be working with Liz and Stephen at Number 9 to help put together what promises to be a truly wonderful film."
Wednesday 16th May
Complaints over an advert for bookmaker Paddy Power featuring transgender people have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The TV advert shown in February ahead of Ladies' Day at the Cheltenham Festival invited viewers to spot the "stallions" from the "mares". The ASA investigated 92 complaints that the advert was offensive and condoned harmful discriminatory behaviour. It ruled that it must not be shown again in its current form.
The advert stated: "...we're going to make Ladies' Day even more exciting by sending in some beautiful transgendered ladies. Spot the stallions from the mares".
The advert showed a series of brief shots of people at the event while the voice-over tried to guess their gender.
In one scene, a woman was shown holding a dog while the voice-over said "woman" then hesitated while the shot changed to show a woman walking out of a men's toilet, then said "dog, I mean man".
The ASA said it received about 470 complaints, but only 92 of those fell under their remit to investigate because the majority followed the advert being watched online rather than on television.
Upholding the complaints, the ASA said: "We considered that the ad trivialised a highly complex issue and depicted a number of common negative stereotypes about trans people.
"We considered that by suggesting that trans women would look like men in drag, and that their gender could be speculated on as part of a game, the ad irresponsibly reinforced those negative stereotypes.
"And, particularly by framing the game in a way that involved a member of the public who had commented on Paddy Power's Facebook page, the ad condoned and encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment."
Paddy Power said it had cast members of the transgender community in the advert and did not intend to cause harm or offence and was "saddened" to learn that some viewers were offended.
It said it believed that the complaints had come from an organised campaign.
A Paddy Power spokesman said the company was disappointed with the ASA's ruling.
He added: "This decision is especially frustrating given that the commercial was pre-approved by British television advertising clearance body Clearcast, who then considered the humour in the advert, while not to everyone's taste, fell short of causing offence.
"Additionally, we reached out to leading UK transgender group, The Beaumont Society, for feedback on the script.
"Furthermore, we exclusively cast members of the trans community in the various transgender roles in the commercial.
"Finally, it is worth pointing out that the commercial has almost 600,000 views with twice as many 'likes' than 'dislikes."
The Beaumont Society told the ASA the script it was given did not include the scene in which a woman left a men's toilet and was referred to as a dog.
It also said that it was not happy with the manner in which the terms "stallions" and "mares" were used in the finished advert.
UK No.1 for LGBT
Tuesday 15th May
For all the anti-equality campaigns by some politicians and right-wing religious groups, United Kingdom has been chosen as the best place in Europe for gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in terms of legal rights, according to a study by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Europe.
Coming just days before the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), in the first study of its kind, the ILGA Europe index rates 49 countries in the continent on more than 40 different categories. However, social and cultural attitudes are not considered in the report.
Britain’s place at the top is predominantly owing to its recognition of civil partnerships for same-sex couples, and its anti-discrimination laws. A spokesperson for ILGA Europe told the Independent that Scotland played a ‘leading role’ in UK’s success, pointing out that hate crimes ‘aggravated’ by gender identity are explicitly recognised in the Scottish legislature.
Meanwhile, Russia and Moldova came at the bottom of the rankings, along with Ukraine, Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Macedonia, Monaco, and surprisingly for some, Lichtenstein. The report notes with disdain St Petersburg’s recent introduction of the so-called anti-propaganda law, which penalises the distribution of material about and campaigns for gay or trans rights. Veteran gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev became the first to be convicted under this law.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said in a statement that she was “delighted” with the news, seeing Britain “leading the way” and “breaking new ground.” She said that the coalition’s consultation on equal marriage and ‘the world’s first transgender action plan’ were part of the same push for equal rights.
Sam Dick, Stonewall’s head of policy, told the Independent that Britain was a “beacon of equality to 400 million gay people around the world,” adding: ”We must not underestimate how much work there is yet to do – not least in securing marriage equality and tackling the endemic levels of homophobic bullying in schools.”
The full outcomes of the study will be published on Tuesday, just two days ahead of the IDAHO.