Rob Epstein’s The Times of Harvey Milk (USA, 1984) and Gus Van Sant’s Milk (USA, 2008), the two major films that narrate the life and tragically dramatic death of gay politician and activist Harvey Milk (1930–1978), are widely recognized as part of the queer cinematic canon but are less often categorized as Jewish films. While Epstein’s film adroitly presents a “Kosher-style” Milk, the Jewishness of Van Sant’s Milk is less certain; however, a well-established pattern of gay and lesbian Jews citing Milk as one of their own—what I term “Jewqhooing”—enabled a Jewish reception of Milk. Querying and queerying the Jewishness of Milk (the man as well as the movies that purport to represent his life and times) illuminate the complex ways Jewishness continues to be cinematically conveyed or whitewashed as well as the intersections between queer and Jewish film history.
"Got Jewish Milk?: Screening Epstein and Van Sant for Intersectional Film History,"
Jewish Film & New Media: Vol. 5
, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/jewishfilm/vol5/iss1/11