Queer films and magical realism typically don’t go hand in hand, but Thomas Wilson-White’s feature debut The Greenhouse masterfully weaves identity, grief, and fantasy into a mesmerising film.
The film, which has taken out honours at several queer festivals this year, tells the haunting story of Beth, grieving over the loss of one of her mothers.
Beth discovers a secret portal in the form of a greenhouse where she can look into her past and re-discover herself.
Pink Advocate recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Wilson-White to discuss the film and his relationship with it.
As Wilson-White puts it, queer films are typically reduced to a “really tragic love story where they all die”.
“It took me a while to wake up to the fact that I could centre queer characters in the sorts of films that I loved growing up, and that I didn’t have to subscribe to what was being given to me,” he says.
When asked about his reasoning to include magical realism in a queer film, he explains that it’s “always been used, since its inception, to comment – either a social critique or a political comment about the times we live in”.
The premise of the film, with Beth reeling after her mother’s death from cancer, is inspired by Wilson-White’s own life.
“Both of my moms actually were diagnosed with cancer,” he says.
“I was a child before this diagnosis, and now I’m an adult, because you suddenly have to contemplate the loss of a parent.
“So, the film is just a meditation on the temptation to live in the past and look back and focus on where you’ve come from instead of where you’re going, because it’s kind of scary to look forward.”
When asked about queer genre films that served as inspiration, Wilson-White remarks, “It was actually about what I couldn’t see in the market and the holes that I could see really clearly.”
“It’s actually kind of exciting because I think about the future of queer storytelling, and there is so much to do,” he adds.
“There are so many opportunities, it’s literally just about what you can see, and convincing other people that it will work.”
Wilson-White has said before that had trouble financing the film.
“We need queer filmmakers making work outside of the system, because the system is still incredibly heteronormative, sexist, patriarchal, racist, et cetera,” he says.
“So, making the film outside of the system meant that I could make the film exactly the way I wanted… But at the same time, it’s just about looking after your mental health.”
The interview ends by looking ahead to the future of queer cinema.
“Queer cinema is itself a box that’s been created around us,” Wilson-White suggests.
“The problem, though, is that the gatekeepers are still just exploiting everyone.
“So, I’m confident that queer cinema is going to change in our lifetime, and it’s going to become something that isn’t just aggressive sex scenes and lesbians dying.”
The Greenhouse is available now for the UK via Amazon and iTunes. Its wider release is to be announced.