In the 1970s, American cinema got bigger, bolder, and more boundary-breaking, which opened the door to more and more films that centered LGBTQ+ characters and stories.
Around the same time, Spain was going through a cultural renaissance of its own in the wake of fascist leader Francisco Franco’s death, inspiring a new wave of filmmakers to explore forward-thinking themes and ideas, free from fear of repercussions.
One such filmmaker was Eloy de la Iglesia, a gay man and member of the Spanish Communist Party who, under Franco’s rule, made genre films that used metaphors as a cover for subtly transgressive and progressive stories.
But with the country newly liberated, de la Iglesia could finally make films that addressed homosexuality head-on, and wound up creating what are considered two of Spain’s first openly queer movies.
Both Hidden Pleasures (’77) and Confessions Of A Congressman a.k.a “El Diputado” (’78) are erotically and politically charged films that center on older, closeted figures in society who lust after young men. Given their subject matter, they still proved controversial even in more liberal-minded times, and were only given limited releases in America.
Now, nearly 40 years after they were last publicly screened in the States, both of Eloy de la Iglesia’s history-making gay films have been restored and made available on digital and home video courtesy of LGBTQ+ specialty distributor Altered Innocence.
Billed as Uranian Dreams: Two Homosexual Films by Eloy de la Iglesia—named for “uranians,” an old world term for gay men—the first of its kind re-release package hopes to introduce new audiences to the sexy, thought-provoking, pioneering work of one of world cinema’s under-sung queer filmmakers.
The first of the pair, Hidden Pleasures, follows the story of Eduardo (Die Another Day‘s Simón Andreu), a well-off banker whose secret hobby is meeting and bedding young male hustlers on the streets.
Though he lives with his mother, Eduardo has a secret bachelor pad where he brings his conquests, keeping his affairs out of the public eye. He does have at least one gay friend, Raúl—also a former fling of Eduardo’s—who encourages him to come out and fight for social causes, but the closeted man prefers his life in the shadows.
Eventually, his cruising leads him to handsome eighteen-year old Miguel (Tony Fuentes) who, despite being straight and in a relationship, accepts a sort of platonic “sugar baby” arrangement with Eduardo. But the older man struggles to keep his carnal impulses in check, which leads both of them down dark paths of destruction.
The second feature, Confessions Of A Congressman, takes a more overtly political—but no less titillating—bent, centering on the story of Roberto Orbea (José Sacristán) a socialist leader holding public office who lives with his wife Carmen (Beatriz Rossat).
But, like Eduardo in the prior film, Roberto has a secret predilection for younger men, unable to resist the bad boy charms of the hustlers who work the streets. He’s particularly taken by the blond, youthful Juanito (José Luis Alonso), but what he doesn’t know is that his latest boy toy has been hired by the opposition party to spy on his life so that they can blackmail the congressman.
However, Juanito soon discovers he’s got real feelings for Roberto, and even begins to feel some affection for his wife, Carmen, too. As they explore the boundaries of their surprising three-way relationship, paranoia, passion, and betrayal threatens to tear them all apart.
Both Hidden Pleasures and Confessions Of A Congressman are available now to rent and stream through Vimeo and Amazon Prime Video. The limited edition Uranian Dreams: Two Homosexual Films by Eloy de la Iglesia package is available now on Blu-ray and DVD, courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome.
You can find more information about both films and the newly restored set on the Altered Innocence site.