Malcolm Ingram’s ‘Continental’ Tells the Story of the Infamous NYC Bathhouse

Meet the 2013 SXSW Filmmakers #2: Malcolm Ingram‘s ‘Continental’ Tells the Story of the Infamous NYC Bathhouse
FEBRUARY 27, 2013 12:01 PM

Documentary filmmaker Malcolm Ingram, whose work has focused on issues facing the gay community, tells the historical story of the notorious 1970s New York City bathhouse that transcended sexuality in “Contintental.” The film charts the pivotal role the Continental Bathhouse played in social tolerance and the creation of a safe haven for gay men at the time, as well as being a hub for the discovery of several legendary musicians.


What it’s about: “Continental” is the story of the infamous bathhouse in New York City that came to prominence in the 1970s that’s known today mostly as the place where Bette Midler was discovered. It’s is a stylish examination of a hedonistic clubhouse that opened pre-Stonewall and helped usher in a new age of sexual freedoms, social tolerance and creative energy.

What else do you want audiences to know about your film? I would like audiences to realize, like I did while shooting this project, what a remarkable touchstone the Continental Baths were to so many things that came after it. It broke new ground by being a safe, comfortable and clean place for gay men to congregate, celebrate, converse and fuck. It was instrumental, not only as a haven, but as a beacon of acceptance. It was at the Continental, through the live cabaret, where all kinds of people intermingled, creating a curious and fascinating mix of sexuality and class that helped pave the way for greater tolerance of the gay community.


What’s been your path to filmmaking? My first doc “small town gay bar” had the privilege of premiering in competition at Sundance in 2006. More importantly this is my 4th movie to screen at SXSW.


What’s the film that most inspired you? Watching the documentary “The Cockettes” really inspired me to get off my ass to tell the story of this great moment in gay history while we were lucky enough to hear it right from the mouths of the people involved.

What would you like SXSW audiences to come away with after seeing your film? I hope that they come to love proprietor of the Continental Baths, Steve Ostrow as much as I do. He’s a fascinating man with great vision and a brilliant story teller.

What do you have in the works? After doing three documentaries on gay issues I feel it is time to move on. Documentary feeds the soul….but not the pocketbook.

Have become really fascinated with reality TV of late. It seems a great way to get a message across….a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Indiewire invited SXSW directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on March 8 for the latest profiles.

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