1986, U.S., 96 min.
QFest’s second queer classic — a new restoration of Donna Deitch’s “Desert Hearts” — is an adaptation of the 1964 lesbian-themed novel “Desert of the Heart” by Jane Rule. In 1959, Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver), a 35-year-old English professor, travels to Reno to establish residency in Nevada and obtain a quickie divorce. Staying at a ranch for women waiting for their divorces to be finalized, Vivian meets Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau), a free-spirited sculptor. When Vivian arrives, Cay notices her immediately, and the tightly controlled and elegant professor is taken aback by the younger woman’s boldness and lack of concern over what others think of her romantic/sexual preferences. After some drunken kisses and confusion, they tentatively start a relationship and fall in love. With the impending finalization of Vivian's divorce, the two must make some tough decisions. Vivian is afraid of what people in her academic circle will think of her relationship with another woman, and Cay is unsure of what she would do in New York City.