A heartfelt documentary, Chris & Don, A Love Story portrays the romance between author Christopher Isherwood (whose work inspired the musical and film Cabaret) and a young painter named Don Bachardy. Comprised of archive footage, interviews and personal films, audiences gain a first hand look into the love that thrived between two men who were nearly 30 years apart in age and within a mutually agreed upon open marriage. Despite this, their relationship remained true for over 30 years. Personal stories are recounted by Bachardy himself (Isherwood passed away in 1986), as he looks back lovingly at his marriage and times spent with Hollywood A-listers.
Having met in 1952, Isherwood and Bachardy were remarkably out and open at a time when homosexuality was very much a taboo. Furthermore, Bachardy was only 18 when the two men met, giving him a child-like appearance in comparison to the older Isherwood. Regardless, Bachardy was taken aback by the attention if such a talented author and starstruck by his circle of celebrity friends and acquaintances. Bachardy also credits Isherwood for starting his own career path, carefully guiding him away from acting and encouraging him to explore his artistic talent. He went on to paint and draw the who’s who of Hollywood, including many works of his favourite model, Isherwood himself.
“Chris & Don benefits from the extensive presence of the surviving partner. He is a mischievous and candid master of ceremonies and his tales are awash with nostalgia.”
— Cinema Queer
“Directors Guido Santi and Tina Mascara have created a documentary as naked as the nudes Bachardy drew of Isherwood in his final years and the pen sketches he drew of Isherwood’s body after the writer died of prostate cancer in their Los Angeles home in 1986.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“The fact that their relationship was seen to be so long-lasting was held up as a role model and somehow validating of gay relationships. They helped change the focus of the discussion from sex to love.”
— Notes On Film
Did You Know?
In Chris & Don, A Love Story, filmmakers and personal friends of the couple, Guido Santi and Tina Mascara are quick to draw attention to Isherwood’s work. Notably, his novel The Berlin Stories, served as the foundation for Cabaret. In 1972, the actor, choreographer, and director Bob Fosse directed the film version of Isherwood’s story, bringing in English actor Michael York to play Isherwood’s alter ego from the book. Fosse would go on to direct Chicago in 1975, and ultimately passed away in 1987, one year after Christopher Isherwood. Review our Gay Themed Films Here