Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 29
October 12, 1966
Shirley Temple resigns from San Francisco Festival

When Mai Zetterling’s Nattlek (Night Games) arrived at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1966, the ex-child star Shirley Temple Black was horrified. This was not the kind of film that she wanted to endorse when she joined the festival’s board in 1964. The third feature form the controversial Swedish actress-turned-director, Night Games was adapted from her own novel about a married couple who return to the groom’s castle to discover a crazy night of orgiastic parties and repressed memories. John Waters later wrote with much admiration, “Zetterling directs with a ludicrously melodramatic, overly gothic sledgehammer to deal with this story of impotence, child masturbation, cross-dressing, porno flicks, and vomiting.” The film certainly arrived in San Francisco with a lot of baggage. At the Venice Film Festival, Night Games was withdrawn from public viewing and could only be watched by the jurors. When the San Francisco Film Festival refused to withdraw the film as Black insisted, she quit in protest, hoping to send a message to other festivals, as well as keep her image clean for her upcoming Congressional run. The film continued to create controversy, much of which was directed at the filmmaker. But Zetterling was oblivious. She once said, “Perhaps I am a mad-hatter Swede…who got lost in the world ... I feel very far from the norm of just about everything."


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May 29, 1981
Polyester released

After a four-year hiatus, scandalous Baltimore director John Waters returned with some new, um, material on this day in 1981. Polyester marked Waters’ first film after completing his so-called “Trash Trilogy” – Pink Flamingos (1972), Female Trouble (1974) and Desperate Living (1977) – and saw him move into more mainstream territory after that triptych’s shock tactics, most famously encapsulated in the moment in Pink Flamingos when Waters’ drag diva Divine eats freshly delivered doggie doo-doo.

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