The 1980 movie “Squeeze” was a first for New Zealand; made six years before homosexuality was decriminalized, it portrays a number of people involved with the “gay scene” in the city of Auckland. At the time, the movie was extremely controversial; over three decades later, however, it’s nearly been forgotten entirely.
The New Zealand Film Commission refused to support the film financially, on the grounds that due to its content (which included a male prostitute among its characters) there was no market for the film; the producers managed to raise the needed funding privately.
On the flip side, the movie got free publicity from the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards; founder and “moral campaigner” Patricia Bartlett launched a campaign to demand that “Squeeze” be denied any public funding—even though it had already been decided that it wouldn’t. The inadvertent free publicity continued up to and including the movie’s premier, which the Society picketed; according to Gay in the 80s, they carried banners with “messages such as ‘God says No!’”
Perhaps in part due to Bartlett’s efforts, a clause was later added to the Film Commission Act that stated that it must have “due regard for normal standards of general public morality” in order to provide a film with financial support.
Ironically, despite all this, one major critique LGBT activists had of “Squeeze” was that it wasn’t radical enough. Still, it ended up playing at film festivals around the world, and reviews were overall mostly positive. It was also a major milestone in LGBT history in New Zealand, regardless of its overall quality.
The lone review on IMDB points out, “This pioneering gay New Zealand movie was made six years before the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passed, so much in it was ‘criminal’ at the time, and certainly deeply frowned on by most ‘respectable’ society. This is the context in which it needs to be viewed. The makers were daring to portray Auckland’s gay community as normal, and faced the wrath of the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards.”
Those who want to learn more… apparently need to have connections, because there is virtually nothing online. IMDB has little more than a tagline, a cast list, and its runtime; no pictures, synopsis, or much else. It doesn’t seem to be for sale anywhere, and apparently there aren’t even any torrents.
Especially in these days of easy online storage and accessibility, history like this shouldn’t be lost to time.