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Can You Ever Forgive Me? & Behind the numbers

September 6, 2023 @ 20:30 23:30

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a 2018 dramatized biographical film that tells the story of Lee Israel based on her own published confessional memoir by the same name. Israel took the title of the memoir from a line she wrote in a letter that she forged as being from Dorothy Parker. This letter she later saw on display in a bookshop window for $1,900. Disgusted by this, she wrote the bookstore owner a sarcastic note in Dorothy Parker’s voice to let him know the displayed note was fake. This happened right after she got permission from Jack to write a memoir on their scam practices. 

The film was received very well at the time of release, even being called one of the top ten films of 2018 by the National Board of Review. Both Melissa McCarthy (who played Israel) and Richard E. Grant (who played Jack) received nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards and the British Academy Film Awards.

However, Fox Searchlight has been criticized for trying to hide, downplay or erase the homosexual side of the story in their promotion of the film. Although Israel Lee was a lesbian and Jack “can hardly pass a fire hydrant without asking for its number” (Peter DeBruge in Variety), the promotional campaign of the film by no means presented these parts of their identity as part of the story.

Rosa Oomen, QFFU

As a pre film the documentary Behind the Numbers is screened of #FreetobeMe program by Hivos and Human Rights in the Picture.

In Behind the Numbers we follow an intersex person from Zimbabwe, a lesbian couple from Bangkok and a trans person from the Netherlands, who all encounter the same barriers of heteronormative society for different reasons.The three stories show how important it is to be accepted for who you are. Particularly noteworthy is that Hivos collaborated with filmmakers from the local community to portray the stories. Local ownership, fair opportunities and economic development are important spearheads in Hivos’ work. The film was made in collaboration with Human Rights in the Picture. 



In Can You Ever Forgive Me? Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer, cat lover, and lesbian, who made her living in the 1970s and ‘80s profiling the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack.

Film Facts

Original language title: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Directed by: Marielle Geller

Year: 2019

Country: USA

Running time: 107 mins

Genre: Drama

Language: English

Subtitles: Dutch


Content warning:  Inexplicit hate crime, suicidal ideation, profanity, use of hard drugs, mild nudity

Side program

From 18:00 hours onwards you are welcome to have a drink at Bar Beton

20:30 Screening Behind the Numbers

21:00 Talk with U-Pride, Trainbow and the municipality of Utrecht on the newly developed ”Inclusion” policy.

21:15 Break

21:30 Can you ever forgive me?

23:15 End

Bar Beton – Utrecht Centraal Station

Stationshal 9
Utrecht, 3511 CE Nederland
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