The Watermelon Woman

Posted on Sat 19 Nov by AlexK / History, Film, QTIPOC, Lesbian

by MK Margetson

In Cheryl Dunye’s seminal 1996 work The Watermelon Woman, there’s a scene where Cheryl’s friend Tamra says ‘i can barely stand the stuff that Hollywood puts out now, let alone that nigger mammie shit from the thirties’, in response to Cheryl’s acquisition of old films featuring the title actress. This act of unearthing old, painful, cinematic images is an act of purposeful oppositional spectatorship. This is the way that queer people and people of colour have traditionally watched Hollywood images: you see a reductive representation but (especially with queer audiences historically) you are glad for any relatable image; you recognise its falsity and its omissions; and thus you fail to be interpellated into the white male Hollywood gaze, so your viewing of the film is stunted throughout. Yet the erasure of our stories can be fascinating - it feels like an act of uncovering, and correcting, historical wrongs.

We are naturally critical viewers because to not be would do a great disservice to our own image. (We know we’re not mammies and sissies.) To recognise and explore these images retroactively though, is a distinctly queer endeavour. The most vital and comprehensive example of this activity is Vito Russo’s beloved The Celluloid Closet, published in 1981 and translated beautifully for screen by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman in 1995.
In another scene, Cheryl goes to visit a gay uncle. We know he’s gay as she mentions his being distanced from the family as the scene changes, and from his Lena Horne impression. He, like Cheryl, is an archivist through sheer interest in the image plus the lack of resources already existing. Cheryl’s mother, already interviewed, is also considered a collector.

What’s so groundbreaking about this film - other than, in 1996, it being the first feature film by a black woman - is the engagement with the historical lack of representation. Dunye recognises, as she shares to camera, that ‘it has to be about black women, because our stories have never been told’. At a packed out screening of black lesbian stud-femme documentary The Same Difference earlier in the festival it occurred to me how early we still are in terms of black lesbian cinema, and how startling this is, as well as how formative Dunye’s film has been and the gravity it will always occupy in the black lesbian cinematic imagination.

If you’ve never seen The Watermelon Woman but have an interest in queer cinema, in queer representation, in black-female representation, in any of it, Sunday’s screening at the Barbican is a MUST. If you’ve seen the film many times before, this new restoration is like watching Cheryl and Guinevere in HD, and it looks incredible. The film’s fresh colour schemes pop like nothing on earth (I hadn’t realised there was so much pink!), and the beauty of the old cinema footage is more immediate than previously. The lead actors’ faces simmer on screen as they flirt, and the comedic responses of side characters are brilliantly full of life.

Sunday’s screening of the film’s 20th anniversary restoration will be a moment to consider and celebrate the strides made in black and queer cinematic representation, as well as the lack of an improvement on this black lesbian film in the 20 years since.

This is a moment absolutely not to be missed - make it to the Barbican this Sunday at 4pm for a celebration of the formative moment of black lesbian cinema.

Trans* Stories at Fringe!

Posted on Mon 07 Nov by AlexK / Documentary, Film, Family, Trans, transgender, QTIPOC, gender

by Anna Wates

The representation of trans people on the big screen has changed markedly in recent years, increasingly moving away from outdated, exploitative and negative portrayals towards more nuanced, more authentic stories about trans experience. Every year Fringe! brings films that reflect the growing diversity of trans experiences represented in film around the globe, and this year is no exception, with a stellar lineup of documentaries, features and shorts ranging from the inspiring to the thoughtful, and the hilarious! This year, our weekend screenings fall on TDoR (Transgender Day of Remembrance, 20th November), a day to honour and remember trans people who have lost their lives during the year.

Here are some highlights from the trans films screening at Fringe! next week

A Womb of Their Own
Saturday 19th November, Hackney Showroom

A group of queer transmasculine people speak openly about bodies, birth, hair and other things in this heartwarming documentary shedding light on their varied experiences of pregnancy.

Guru, a Hijra Family
Saturday 19th November, Hackney Showroom

The compelling Lakshmi Ma serves as guru and mother to her seven daughters, providing them with a strong moral compass and spiritual guidance to navigate a society that simultaneously venerates and renounces them. This beautiful and atmospheric documentary offers a unique glimpse into the everyday life of this family of hijras - or third gendered persons - in India. The film is a delicate exploration of the history, mythology, rituals and contemporary experience of the hijra community.

Self-Define Your Gender Paradigm
Sunday 20 November, 5.30pm, Hackney Showroom

Questioning and redefining expectations around gender and representation, this collection of short films bring together thoughts on the body as a landscape of imaginative expanse.

Her Story
Saturday 19th November, Hackney showroom

A web series with a difference, we'll be screening the 6-part first season as a one-hour session of funny, poignant, fresh and authentic revelation on the big screen. Addressing institutionalised transphobia (especially within the lesbian/queer community) through the hopeful first stirrings of love and new friendship, Her Story delivers an important message with a light-touch.

And finally, our closing night film: Suited
20th November 2016, 8.30pm, Genesis Cinema

This empowering documentary follows Brooklyn garment maker Bindle & Keep, who tailor suits are created for all kinds of bodies. The film ends with a heroic, celebratory fashion show, and we hope you’ll join Fringe! on our closing night kitted out in your most dapper attire. With an interpretive introduction by The Drakes, this is one not to miss!



Raiders of the Lost Archive - Histories Real and Imagined at Fringe! 2016

Posted on Mon 07 Nov by AlexK / Lesbian, QTIPOC, History, Film

By Anna Wates


At the end of Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman, the following sentence appears: 'Sometimes you have to create your own history'. It hints at the intentional blurring within the film of the division between fiction and truth. As a black lesbian, Dunye wanted her film to highlight the poverty of the historical record when it comes to the stories of marginalised peoples and communities. This is because the archive tends to favour those with power. As for all the rest us, very few records exist; our stories rarely survive, and if they do, queerness risks being unacknowledged due to the prejudices of the era. So we have to imagine, project, or retell versions of the past which include us. This year Fringe! offers some great films doing just that; a selection of thought-provoking features and shorts that cast the net back through the archive, collecting hidden gems as well as confronting one or two lingering ghosts along the way.

One such film is Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman prompts us to reflect on the disparity between histories we are told and those we must imagine in order to be able to see ourselves in a past that forever attempts to erase us. This is clever filmmaking, a satire on fiction and truth through the format of a “mockumentary” in which the main character speaks directly to the camera about plans to make a film (the one we’re watching?). Dunye termed this style of filmmaking a “Dunyementary”, playing a version of herself as an aspiring filmmaker cum video shop clerk in search of fragments of the life of Martha Page, a black actress who worked in Philadelphia during the 1930s, also known as “the watermelon woman”. In some ways, the search is frustrated by the constant erasure of Page’s queer identity in official records of her life, as well as her own sister’s memories. Yet in other ways, Cheryl unearths a veritable treasure chest of archive material, including photographs of Page looking dapper with her lover, or an interview with older lesbian Shirley who tells Cheryl that the watermelon woman used to sing in clubs “for all us stone butches”. These tantalising glimpses of a vibrant queer past clash with stark irony the harsh reality of silence and voids alluded to in the poignant closing lines of the film.

The fact that Page is black, a woman and queer means her story is even less likely to appear in the history books than a white (or male/straight) counterpart. We can think of real-life figures such as Bessie Smith and Josephine Baker, whose queer relationships can often only be guessed at. Yet this exclusion takes place within queer culture as much as in straight society, something wryly explored in a scene from The Watermelon Woman in which Cheryl visits the CLIT archive of lesbian material. Searching for information on Page, Cheryl is handed a shabby box filled with uncategorised material by the white archivist, who tells her they keep collections pertaining to black lesbians separate in order to “make it easier”; a neat jibe at the frequent absence of people of colour from the LGBTQ+ record.

Intelligent, powerful and important, we are delighted to be able to present this classic of black lesbian/New Queer Cinema in its full magnificence, now beautifully restored courtesy of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project in honour of film’s 20 th anniversary. Catch The Watermelon Woman alongside our shorts Histories, Real and Imagined and explore these vital commentaries on queer histories rarely told or acknowledged.

The Watermelon Woman screens on Sunday 20 November at Barbican Centre

Latin American Gems at Fringe!

Posted on Thu 03 Nov by AlexK / Brazil, Latin America, Cuba, Chile, gender, homophobia, LGBT rights, QTIPOC, Film

Last year we embraced a Brazilian focus, screening documentary Favela Gay and hybrid-porn-fiction-doc Nova Dubai alongside a dynamic shorts programme. We celebrated the vivacity and fearlessness of Brazilian queer people boldly living their truths amongst threats of violence and inequality. This year, our programme showcases films from the wider Central and Latin American region, with many other titles foregrounding the stories of QTIPOC and Latinx people. It’s important work to facilitate marginalised and distinct voices and foster global connections within our big queer family!


Opening Film: Viva - Tuesday 15 November - Rio Cinema 

Viva represents Cuba’s struggle with shifting identities: from an environment of restrictions on queer and non-traditional expressions, to a nation assimilating its bold queer communities, Viva chronicles the journey of Cuba.

Jesus, a young hairdresser, works at a Havana drag cabaret club to make ends meet. He dreams of one day becoming a performer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama, Jesus finally gets his chance to take the stage. But when his estranged father Angel abruptly re-enters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down. As father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, VIVA develops into a love story as they struggle to understand one another and reconcile as a family.
This moving drama is powered by SCRUFF.

The Nest - Friday 18 November - Hackney Showroom

Handsome young soldier Bruno deserts from the Brazilian army to go on a search for his long-lost brother in Porto Alegre. While his brother remains elusive Bruno quickly falls in with a gang of genderqueer bohemians and befriends Stella, one of his brother’s acquaintances. Through these unconventional new friendships Bruno begins to discover himself and explore his sexuality.

Filipe Matzembacher & Marcio Reolon’s film unravels over an episodic structure highlighting atmosphere, emotion and interpersonal dynamics and resulting in an intriguing examination of how we find and create our queer families.

You’ll Never Be Alone - Sunday 20 November - Rio Cinema 

Dance student Pablo lives with his father Juan, a manager at a mannequin factory, in their drab, homophobic suburb of Santiago. He has a secret affair with a member of the neighbourhood's street gang and dreams of starring in his favourite reality TV show with his best friend Mari, while his father struggles to become partner in the company he worked at for the last 25 years. One night, Juan and Pablo's lives change forever, and for the first time, Juan faces the harsh reality his son experiences on a daily basis. 

Inspired by true events, Alex Anwandter's impressive debut feature skilfully tells a distinctly South American story with a naturalistic approach and great sensitivity, reminiscent of Dolan and Fassbinder. 

Powered by SCRUFF

There are also plenty of Latin American shorts from Mexico, Brazil and Puerto Rico sprinkled through our FREE shorts programme.

We Are Family

Posted on Wed 02 Nov by AlexK / transgender, Brazil, QTIPOC, Trans, Film, Event, Gay, Lesbian, Family, Academy Awards, Documentary

Whether it is the struggles and triumphs with our biological families or those that we chose and make ourselves, the family has emerged as a dominant theme in this year’s programme. Opening film Viva - Ireland’s entry for the Foreign Language Oscar (in Spanish!) - brings us into the life of a young Cuban hairdresser, initiated into Havana’s drag scene while trying to reinvigorate a relationship with his estranged father. Chosen families also shine through in stories of a Hijra family in India, vogueing houses in the US, and an inseparable band of Brazilian misfit punk queers. We invite you to join us for a Queer Family Sunday Brunch and short film programme all about the ties that bind.

Opening Film: Viva - Tuesday 15 November, Rio Cinema
Dir Paddy Breathnach / Ireland 2015 / 100min

Jesus, a young hairdresser, works at a Havana drag cabaret club to make ends meet. He dreams of one day becoming a perfomer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama, Jesus finally gets his chance to take the stage. But when his estranged father Angel abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down. As father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, VIVA develops into a love story as they struggle to understand one another and reconcile as a family. 

VIVA is a moving drama that packs an emotional punch with its portrayal of families, from those we adopt to those we are born into while illustrating the every day struggles of ordinary Cubans and the transformative power of drag.

Powered by SCRUFF 

A Little Lust - Wednesday 16 November - Genesis Cinema
Dir. Veronica Pivetti / Italy / 2015 / 104min 

16 year old Rocco's two aims in life are to get laid and to see his favourite pop star in concert with his best friends, sassy and tomboyish Maria and nerdy and quiet Mauri. When a  bullying incident at school forces Rocco to come out to his divorced middle-class parents their liberal leanings are severely tested. Luckily his two friends stand by him and join him in running away from home (in his parents stolen car) to see their favourite singer in concert, followed hot on their heels by his neurotic mother and eccentric gran to hilarious effect.

Presented in partnership with CinemaItaliaUK

Check It - Thursday 17 November - The Institute of Light
Dir-Prod Dana Flor & Toby Oppenheimer / USA 2016 / 91min

In this spirited and raw documentary, Washington D.C street gang Check It (claimed as the only documented queer gang in the world) are thrown onto the world stage as they struggle to survive and claw their way out of gang life through an unlikely avenue: fashion.

Powered by SCRUFF

The Nest - Friday 18 November - Hackney Showroom
Dir Filipe Matzembacher, Marcio Reolon / Brazil 2016 / 115min

Handsome young soldier Bruno deserts from the Brazilian army to go on a search for his long-lost brother in Porto Alegre. While his brother remains elusive Bruno quickly falls in with a gang of genderqueer bohemians and befriends Stella, one of his brother’s acquaintances. Through these unconventional new friendships Bruno begins to discover himself and explore his sexuality.

Guru: A Hijra Story - Saturday 19 November - Hackney Showroom
Dir Laurie Colson & Axelle Le Dauphin / Belgium/India 2016 / 75min

This moving portrait gives an insightful glance into the daily life of a family of transgender women in India - the hijras, more commonly referred to as ‘the third gender’. The film paints a fascinating portrait of their history, mythology, rituals and place in contemporary indian society, where they are revered in the country’s religious history yet ostracised by society and commonly rejected by their families.

Presented in partnership with Open City Documentary Festival

A Womb of their Own - Saturday 19 November - Hackney Showroom
Dir Cyn Lubow / USA 2016 / 85min

What can a diverse group of masculine-identified, pregnant people teach the world about gender? This touching and optimistic documentary follows queer transmasculine people experiencing pregnancy in the space between gender binaries, with identities in flux. This speaks to the experience of many genderqueer and trans people whose lives are omitted from the societally proposed binary. Fundamental, resistant and evocative, A Womb of Their Own explores the obstacles to self definition that are transcribed both within the body and onto the family by the state.

You’ll Never Be Alone - Sunday 20 November - Rio Cinema
Dir Alex Anwandter / Chile 2016 / 82min

Dance student Pablo lives with his father Juan, a manager at a mannequin factory, in their drab, homophobic suburb of Santiago. He has a secret affair with a member of the neighbourhood's street gang and dreams of starring in his favourite reality TV show with his best friend Mari, while his father struggles to become partner in the company he worked at for the last 25 years. One night, Juan and Pablo's lives change forever, and for the first time, Juan faces the harsh reality his son experiences on a daily basis.

Powered by SCRUFF

Shorts: A Queer Family Portrait + Family Brunch - Sunday 20 November - The Institute of Light

Joyful, emotional, hilarious and provocative, these films explore the bonds we share with the ones we love. Come join Fringe! for a big queer family brunch from 13:00 at Helio’s Cantina at The Institute of Light (a la carte), have your own queer family portrait taken, and stay for a cracking programme of short films redefining ways of thinking about family.

Brunch reservations recommended, screening tickets free but separate.


Posted on Fri 27 Nov by AlexK / Sexual Health, Film, Open Discussion, Gay, Chemsex

By Anna Wates


From what seemed like a little known aspect of London’s underground gay sub-scene, there's been a lot of media coverage about chemsex recently. The term chemsex, which broadly describes the use of psychoactive drugs in a sexual context, has suddenly emerged as a public health concern. Following a British study among gay and bisexual men living in South London, and an editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), there is increasing anxiety about the risks of chemsex, particularly in contributing to the rising prevalence of HIV diagnoses in London.

Beneath the mainstream media narratives which often focus on the more sensational elements, lies a more complex reality, one that opens up important questions around intimacy and the subtle psychological obstacles that gay people face growing up. This reality is explored in the new documentary Chemsex, showing as part of this year’s Fringe!

This compelling, raw and ultimately very moving film introduces us to a number of gay and bisexual men involved in the chemsex scene. Directors William Fairman and Max Gogarty describe the film as “a confessional show-and-tell about a community's search for intimacy and belonging, in what are all too often the wrong places”. This feels apt given the deeply personal narrative style of the film in which we follow the men as they take drugs, have sex, get help through counselling, and talk openly about their experiences. All the while Fairman and Gogarty’s lens holds an unflinching gaze.

In an age of technological connectivity, it’s all too easy to empathise with this search for fast intimacy – this longing for instant, if momentary, sexual rapport with strangers – even if it’s clear this will ultimately lead to alienation.

David Stuart, who runs a chemsex support service at 56 Dean Street, features heavily in the film and shares his experience of living with HIV/AIDS during the height of the crisis. He describes how – fearing his mortality, depressed and at home – he would look forward to weekly visits from a friend with whom he would get high. This provided a brief moment of release in a seemingly bleak situation. Now in good health, Stuart reflects that, though recreational drugs can be an effective means to self-medicate against pain, they can also result in a different type of suffering in the form of addiction.

In linking chemsex with this moment, the film provokes challenging questions about mistakes made in the handling of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As Stuart observes, you can’t simply get people tested, hand out medication and be done with it. The trauma of the disease itself, and the initial lack of political will to treat it, remains ingrained not just in individual psyches, but collective identity as well. Though the film shows interviews with men of all ages involved in the scene, a large number are those who will have grown up queer in the 80s and 90s, when the HIV/AIDS crisis would have had a huge impact on gay men's psychology. We are only now seeing the effects of this, as evidenced partly through the appeal of chemsex, which seems to provide a means to (mis)manage negative feelings – a lack of confidence and self-esteem, internalised homophobia, as well as stigma about HIV status.

This film deftly illuminates an urgent, complex, and pivotal cultural moment, and leaves us with a great deal of soul-searching ahead.

Chemsex will be screening on Sat 28th November at the Rio Cinema. It will be followed by a Q&A with directors Max Gogarty, Will Fairman, alongside David Stuart and Simon Welch, who also appear in the film.  

By Anna Wates

Looking back and looking forward

Posted on Fri 27 Nov by AlexK / Sexual Health, Documentary, Film, porn, Open Discussion

by guest blogger MK Margetson

London, as a queer city, experienced various changes in identity throughout the last century. In the 1980s during and following the AIDS crisis the queer counter culture mecca of Soho gave itself a makeover in response to the way the health crisis affected the image of gay people worldwide. The following sanitisation of Soho is visible in the constructed image of many of the area’s existing establishments, as well as in the political conviction (or lack thereof) of its current scene which, even if queer, primarily has assimilated into the mainstream. A mainstream gay identity can be identified all around us: on London buses, and corporate-sponsored Pride parades. The BFI Flare festival, whilst consistently reaching the highest standards of critical acclaim in its programme and outreach is also able to be considered a commercial success, rather than a niche endeavour.

In 2011 when its funding was cut, and its length and programme reduced to only a week, a small group of East London queers began commenting on Facebook that another festival could be set up on this side of the city in response. They began Fringe! to meet the gap left by funding cuts, and from then the festival, and the team behind it, has morphed and grown and changed.

In the twentieth century (the century of establishing ourselves as gay people) the Pride movement has been a glorious success: a widespread commercial and consumerist event for Western cities. Gay and some queer people are accepted within the mainstream as “just like everybody else” in 2015. The Gay Shame Movement has been catalysed into responding to the essentialist, apolitical, gay identity they see in the Pride movement. 

Beginning in Brooklyn in the nineties, heralded by speakers like Kiki and Herb, Eileen Myles and Penny Arcade, and developing into a direct action collective and loosely connected party group, Gay Shame became a label under which to deride the corporate presence in queer society. Embracing of counter-culture ideology and avant-guardism, Gay Shame identifies queer people as different to straight people. In particular our experiences and politics cannot be the same as that of straight people, and neither should our image in the world, nor our festivals.

Fringe! has managed to cultivate some impressive alternative credentials throughout its years: its DIY ethos, enacted throughout planning and production stages; its alternative representations of sexuality (from S&M workshops to Chemsex) rather than cultivating a pink washing of the queer image; its programme’s international and interracial focus, which includes works that are critical of their societies, as opposed to being pure prestige pictures; the fully intersectional political identity Fringe! has established: feminism, queer theory, trans* inclusivity, body positive, sex positive, anti-racist and anti-ableist.

The best 5 alternative events taking place in Fringe! this November, from feature films to panel discussions and performances:

  • Liz Rosenfeld presents her Surface Tension trilogy, which repositions famous and infamous women from history as queers in modern day Berlin and, in doing so, queers Berlin’s history. 
  • This year’s Fringe! also welcomes feminist erotica in titles, Shutter and When We are Together… which feature tantalising, original scenes of queer women and non-gender conforming people whose sexualities choose pleasure over convention. 
  • More anti-conventional erotica comes in the form of Fringe! favourite Antonio da Silva, who presents 3 new works dealing with the virtual nature of modern sex, combining pornography, art, and narrative film, as well as perhaps the most alternative erotic offering, documentarist Jan Soldat’s Prison System 4614. All this alongside a sexy programme of erotic shorts, and spanking and shibaru workshops on our Sexy Saturday. 
  • Pushing for PrEP (as well as the reflective documentary Chemsex), as well as other discussions Taking up Gay Spaces, and Sexile, wherein we address the varied material experiences of queer people, from our health, to our location and community, and address them as activists. 
  • Finally the documentary A Queer Aesthetic attempts to define those experiences that unite us, without creating an exclusive ‘unified gay identity’ or identifying a set of essential qualities; A Queer Aesthetic queers the idea of unity in its findings through filmed interviews and documentary footage of its varied subjects. It’s screening alongside An Afternoon with Mike Kuchar, which discussion the radical artist’s life. 

Festival Team Top Fives - Round Four

Posted on Sun 22 Nov by AlexK / Documentary, Film, Trans, Performance, QTIPOC, transgender, sport, gender, queer muslims, workshop

It's only two days until this year's fest kicks off, so here's another edition of top fives. These ones are from Hakeem, Vanessa and Daniele.

Hakeem - Programming Assistant

Naz & Maalik
It’s just so authentic and casual. A charming day in the life of two maybe-almost-boyfriends. The awkward frustration of being young and in love. It's just so great to see the intersection of what it is to be Young, Black, Gay, Muslim men in the United States, so casually, and effortlessly.

Kumu Hina
I love seeing stories about Queer Women of colour in cultures and communities I know nothing about. It’s fascinating to learn about the history of trans people in Hawaii, it’s also fascinating to see the universalities and differences of the queer experience. Kumu Hina is a testament to what is achievable when you are empowered to achieve it.

Game Face
Easily the most nail-biting, compelling and tense doc I’ve ever seen. I was at the edge of my seat all the way through, and genuinely forgot to breathe at least twice. It’s too necessary to see Trans and Queer athletes, as complex and complicated people with lives, loves and families.

The Turkish Boat
It’s affirming and encouraging seeing queer people organise and mobilise. Unlike The New Black, which puts a face and voices to the fight for marriage equality within the African American community, I knew nothing about the Turkish Boat, let alone the Turkish immigrant community in The Netherlands. The film makes such a strong statement about claiming multiple identities; second generation, gay, muslim and proud, it just left me so inspired and excited at all their promise and passion.

Shorts: Flesh + Bone (Free)
Amongst an excellent selection of shorts, Bedding Andrew was just so honest and humble. I dare anyone not to empathise…

Vanessa - arts programmer, performance

Mamoru Iriguchi: 4D Cinema
A creative, beautiful performance that fuses the aesthetics of cinema with delicate commentary on gender, all with a dash of DIY tech.

Closing Party with Fancy Chance & Friends
Fancy Chance is an amazing performer (and winner of Alternative Miss World) and the line-up of female cabaret powerhouses is to die for. This is going to be crazy fun.

The Lady's Not For Walking Like An Egyptian
A high-energy performance, combining 80s pop songs and Thatcher, from two extremely funny ladies. What's not to love?

Making Up Drag Workshop
Explore your drag alter-ego with Vic Sin, who offers a free make-over with a side-order of gender politics.

Women and the Word 
Not only is the film an inspiring take on queer feminist activism, but we've also got a Q&A with the producer, who's coming all the way from the US.

Daniele - Fundraising manager

As fundraising manager, I am delighted that SCRUFF have teamed up with us and are sponsoring this great documentary (which incidentally has several hot rugby players in it!).

Mamoru Iriguchi: 4D Cinema
Beautiful, deeply poetic performance with a quirky, humorous use of DIY technology

Meanwhile in Beirut
Fascinating documentary about being a trans in Beirut

Shorts: Hands in the Dark
Tantalising sexy shorts!

Alex & Ali
The extraordinary, moving story of a forbidden, secret love between an Iranian and an American man, spanning 35 years.  




Documentaries at Fringe!

Posted on Sat 21 Nov by AlexK / Brazil, Documentary, Film, JT Leroy, literature, gender, Trans, QTIPOC, sport, transgender

by MK Margetson

Over the past 4 years Fringe! has consistently brought us outstanding stories of queer life. These stories can inspire us, educate us, remind us of our history and our future, and bring the queer community together through the joys and obstacles familiar to those whose gender or sexuality dares to divert from convention. This year’s festival is no different. Here are some highlights from the documentaries that will screen next week: 

Favela Gay — 26 Nov — Genesis Cinema
Dir Rodrigo Felha / Brazil / 2014

These LGBT people at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder reinvent their lives through music, dance, politics and study. Then, gloriously, Rio’s famous Carnival bring them together.

Kumu Hina — 27 Nov — Bernie Grant Arts Centre / 29 Nov — Rose Lipman Building
Dir. Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson / USA / 2014

Refreshing and irresistible documentary about being true to yourself, fighting for love and through heartbreak, and the struggle to maintain Pacific Islander culture in modern day Hawai’i. Screening with LITTLE ELEPHANT Dir. Kate Jessop / Prod. Bobby Tiwana / UK / 2015.

The New Black + panel — 27 Nov — Hackney Attic
Dir. Prod. Yoruba Richen / USA / 2013

This compelling award- winning documentary accompanies a collective of passionate civil rights activists dedicated to empowering Black LGBT people and a host of other characters in their resolute fight for victory in the Marriage Equality Referendum in Maryland, USA. The New Black screening will be followed by a panel discussion. Confirmed speakers include: Jay Bernard, Dr. Edson Burton, and Jide Macauley.

The Turkish Boat — 28 Nov — Rio Cinema
Dir. Chris Belloni / The Netherlands / 2013

Featuring Amsterdam's famous Gay Pride Canal Parade and the first ever Turkish Boat that partook in the parade; we join the Turkish-Dutch gay activists Döne and Serdar in their attempt to gain recognition and acceptance within the Turkish community. 

The Cult of JT Leroy — 28 Nov — Rose Lipman Building
Dir. Marjorie Sturm / USA / 2014

The truth behind underground literary sensation JT Leroy is gradually exposed in this mind-boggling documentary. Ethically charged, controversial, and confusing, JT's life and death springs open a Pandora's box of powerful questions about literature and culture, identity and celebrity, and the reality of the society we live in.

DOUBLE BILL: A Queer Aesthetic + An Afternoon with Mike Kuchar — 28 Nov — Rose Lipman
Dir Luke Cornish / Australia / 2015 // Dir Oscar Oldershaw / UK/USA / 2015

—Sydney based portrait artist Guy James Whitworth considers the concept of a ‘queer aesthetic’ as he prepares for his 2014 exhibition 'A Queer Aesthetic" and the contributions from other artists provides an insight into the hearts, minds and creative processes of a selection of queer artists practising in Australia today.

—"Movies should have sex appeal," says Mike Kuchar. "It's a basic fundamental quality and helps in making it bearable to watch."

The twin brother of the late George Kuchar (his collaborator the New York underground film scene of the 60's and 70's) welcomes us to his home- a folly of kitschy religious iconography and lurid B-grade movie paraphernalia- to delve into his life and his work, embodying this philosophy of a palpably sexual undercurrents and a lushly lurid aesthetic.

ChemSex + Q&A — 29 Nov — Rio Cinema
Dir. Will Fairman & Max Gogarty / UK / 2015

Sex, drugs and… well more sex and drugs. CHEMSEX is a gritty, raw and unflinching VICE documentary feature about the chemsex sub-scene of London’s queer community. Actual sex scenes and self-confessed ‘slammers’ feature along side medical health professionals and past users to bring together a hard-hitting and timely film in the face of the ever-changing fast-paced world of technology, drugs and our relationships with each other. Followed by Q&A.

Women and the Word + Q&A — 28 Nov — Bernie Grant Arts Centre / 29 Nov — Rose Lipman Building
Dir. Sekiya Dorsett / Prod. Andrea Boston / USA / 2015

A joyous, empowering documentary charting the course of seven black women in a minivan on the road across America with THE REVIVAL, a slam style poetry tour. Absolutely eloquent, insightful and refreshing, we dare you not to want to hang off every word that they speak and drop everything to join the movement. Saturday’s screening is followed by a Q&A.

Paint it Pink + Q&A (free screening) — 28 Nov — Hackney Attic
Dir. Sophie MacCorquodale / UK / 2014

This is the all-singing, all-dancing, no-holds-barred glitterly love-in tribute to the radically inclusive East London club night genderfuck happening. Taking on everything from childhood struggles to redefining drag for ones-self, the result is a kinetic lansdlide of positivity, culminating in Sink The Pink's Summer Ball. Screening with: SERIOUS FUN TRANSMISSION Dir. Angel Rose / UK / 2014 / 2min45 and SINK THE PINK: TRANNYSFORMATION - Ted Dir. Craig Heathcote / UK / 2015 / 2min30

Alex & Ali  28 Nov — Genesis Cinema
Dir. Malachi Leopold / USA / 2014

Director Malachi Leopold's heartbreaking documentary begins as his uncle Alex starts planning a reunion with his long lost lover on neutral ground in Istanbul. This epic romance is set against enormous political struggles, touching on themes as varied as immigration, the right to love, cultural differences and competing ideologies. Screening with: MILKSHAKES & MEMORIES Dir. David Cave / Prod. John McMahon / UK / 2014 / 7min

Game Face — 28 Nov — Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Dir. Michiel Thomas / USA & Belgium / 2015 

Fringe! is proud to present the sports feature documentary GAME FACE. This film tells the parallel story of Fallon Fox, MMA's first transgender pro fighter, and Terrence Clemens, a college basketball player in Oklahoma who happens to be gay. 

Meanwhile in Beirut — 29 Nov — Rose Lipman Building
Dir. Felipe Monroy / Switzerland / 2015

Lea is a 30 year old, trans and lives in the Hamra district of Beirut. In Lebanon, transsexuality is prohibited by law. Working as an escort girl and locked in her apartment at the Hotel Stars, she refuses to be a victim and finds a way to an existence that resembles a 'normal' life as much as possible.

For full programme info:

Festival Team Top Fives - Round Three

Posted on Sat 21 Nov by AlexK / Documentary, Film, Trans, Performance, QTIPOC, Brazil, JT Leroy, transgender, sport, Peter Greenaway, Sergei Eisenstein

In Round number three our audience development team give you their fringey highlights. martha, harry and anna tell you about their picks for the fest.

Martha - Audience development assistant

The Cult of JT Leroy
Just one of the most fascinating and fantastical stories ever told. And it’s recent history. 

Kumu Hina
Incredibly uplifting and brave documentary about a Hawaiian ‘mahu’, or third gender person, inspiring children to be good citizens. Lovely and sweet.

Naz & Maalik
Tender and agreeable coming-of-age story about two young Muslims in post 9/11 New York City, experiencing the first flushes of love.

Shorts: Brazil
All of the short film programmes are pretty enticing, but this one especially promises a lot of diversity, strong voices, colour and life.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato
Peter Greenaway’s newest masterpiece imagines the father of montage editing, Sergei Eisenstein on a queer jaunt to Mexico. Catch it at Fringe! first!


Mamoru Iriguchi: 4D Cinema
This brings to life so much of what excites me about film! Personality and performance and that blurred line between cold tech and warm feeling.

Game Face
Fallon Fox rocks my world.

Shorts: Seven Wonders
Exploring, performing, finding and reclaiming that queer space. 

The Turkish Boat
I remember following this happy story back when it first happened in 2012!

There is something so compelling about seeing these huge, physical guys having soft, intimate moments.

Anna - Audience Development Assistant

Kumu Hina
Hawai'i's powerful and outspoken cultural icon Hina shares her story.  

Women and the Word: The Revival Movie
Fearless and revolutionary, with a rallying cry that reverberates across the Atlantic. A film to celebrate.

Naz & Maalik
Reminiscent of those youthful afternoons which contain a lifetime, this rhapsody for Bed-Stuy captures the many pleasures and pains of growing up. 

Shinjuku Boys
A classic from the feminist archive, the 80s synth and dapper looks do it for me.

Lasana Shabazz presents Fierce!
Enter-taint-ment of the highest (dis)order: performance art, drag and dancing bliss.