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representation of trans people on the big screen has changed markedly in recent years, increasingly moving away from outdated, exploitative and negative portrayals towards more nuanced, more authentic stories about trans experience.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!



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.

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. 

Festival Team Top Fives - Round Two

Posted on Wed 18 Nov by AlexK / Documentary, Film, Trans, Performance, literature, QTIPOC, BDSM, Brazil, porn, Sister Act

Here's the second round of top fives with faves from Muffin, Pierre and Charlie.

Muffin - Head Programmer

When We Are Together We Can Be Everywhere
Everything DIY and dirty combines with all that shimmers to make our lusty hearts sing in this behind-the-scenes of a queer feminist porn in Berlin.

Women and the Word
As inspiring and engaging a road movie as ever was made - touching on every queer feminist topic that needs our attention.

Prison System 4614
Who doesn't go to a holiday camp to be bound, flogged, humiliated and incarcerated. Brutal, tender, and best served up with a nice cup of tea.

Shorts: Flesh + Bone (Free)
A smashing programme of shorts of genderfuckery and embodiedness approached with riotous humour and touching frankness.

Spanking Workshop (Free)
The masterful Alison England joins us for a third year for this intimate intro to sensual spanking. Bring a friend or find one there (I'll be there looking for a partner!) - for an absolutely cracking time.

Pierre - Production Manager

Lasana Shabazz presents Fierce
One night of crazy performance art and drag. Don't miss!

Prison System 4614
Jan Soldat is a rarity showing the vices of our kind like no-one else.

Meanwhile in Beirut
How trans* people live and thrive in Lebanon.

Pushing for PrEP
A film and event every modern queer should attend and discuss.

Nova Dubai
Experimental porn and reflections on gentrification in one unmissable film.

Charlie - Programmer

Reigning from my homeland this Aussie rugby film of (hot) gays playing ball really tugs at the heartstrings.

The Turkish Boat
Set in and on the canals of Amsterdam Pride, Turkish Boat truly puts the spotlight on the rising migrant communities and the realities of sexuality within those communities. Smart, intriguing and inspiring.

Sister Act
I CANNOT WAIT for this. Growing up watching this as a kid was so much camp fun!! Doing it wth friends at 11:30pm on a Friday is going to make it even better.

Shorts: Brazil
Anyone who knows me knows I love a good Brazilian.... erm... film. And this shorts programme is full of them.

Shorts: Sublime InQUEERy
I had such fun with these shorts! The collection ranges from thought-provoking to down right hilarious! Who wouldn't want to see an Italian rock music nun scrubbing floors while the lead singer showers in the confessional booth?

A Strangely Glorious Opportunity

Posted on Tue 17 Nov by AlexK / gender, Trans, Video art, Artists Moving Image, transgender

Fringe! guest curator Panos Fourtoulakis writes about the curatorial process of choosing artist's and works for one of his projects this year.

by Panos Fourtoulakis

A Strangely Glorious Opportunity. The title of the project came out of a conversation with AA Bronson on Scruff regarding queer identity and sums up perfectly my thinking towards it. The idea of queer as something that goes beyond sexual politics and enables one to question the system at large and enquire power structures that otherwise probably would have been taken for granted. How one’s gender and sexuality can become an opportunity in order to challenge terms of normativity that are considered neutral within society, but they’re actually not.

What has always drawn me to the idea of transgender, is the sense of becoming. The ascendancy of one’s choosing what they can be instead of being fixed to something they do not identify with. And in doing so, the political aspect of their action as one of subverting neo- liberal heteronormative limitations. Going beyond binary oppositions and willing to defy dominant systems of oppression by living the life they want. 

The aim of this project is to be as multisided as possible, offering an array of different narratives and perspectives- exploring gender as something not fixed and always fluid- while at the same time create a coherent story. A Strangely Glorious Opportunity showcases work by Oreet Ashery, Pauline Boudry/ Renate Lorenz, Ursula Mayer, Carlos Motta and Wu Tsang.

From apocalyptical dreamlike experiences, to real accounts of challenges faced around the world, to transgressive performances and accounts of fictional lives, to exploring notions of mimicy and appropriation. One of the main themes that run through these films is how the boundaries between performance, appropriation and the ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ become ever more blurred. Something that makes one question what is considered authentic/real in the first place and how we define such notions. Another theme that runs through some of the videos is how the struggles faced by certain minorities are shared by others and how all these issues are interlinked. How until they are all free none of them will be.

I feel really grateful to showcase work by artists who I genuinely admire and who’s practice has expanded and in some cases formed my understanding towards the aforementioned issues. 

A Strangely Curious Opportunity screens Friday 27 November at Rose Lipman Building
General Idea: Video Works, 1977-1984, also curated by Panos and followed by a Q&A with AA Bronson, screens on Sunday 29 November at Barbican Cinema

Trans* films at Fringe!

Posted on Sat 14 Nov by AlexK / transgender, Brazil, QTIPOC, Trans, Film, Documentary, JT Leroy

by Bamboo Hermann

It’s been an absolute pleasure to help select films with trans related content for this year’s Fringe! Film Fest. It hasn’t been an easy task to choose from the great range of films submitted, each with their distinct voices. We’ve made sure the films shown this year reflect the growing diversity of trans experiences shown on film around the globe. Here is our top five:

Game Face

Fallon Fox, a transgender lesbian MMA fighter, stands out as an awe-inspiring leading figure in the struggle for the acceptance of both transgender and gay athletes in the sports world. A true hero in an out of the ring.
Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Saturday 28 Nov, 8pm

The Cult of JT Leroy

Ethically charged, controversial, and confusing, JT’s life and death springs open a Pandora’s box of powerful questions about literature, celebrity, and the exploitation of queer identities in contemporary culture. Mind-boggling.
Rose Lipman Building, Saturday 28 Nov, 3pm

Meanwhile in Beirut

An intimate documentary shows domestic scenes of love, friendship, and sex work in the life of a transgender escort in contemporary Beirut. An honest insight into the hardships (and joys!...) a human being behind the shemale fantasy.
Rose Lipman Building, Sunday 29 Nov, 4pm

Kumu Hina

This heart-warming story of a transgender Hawai’ian native spiritual leader, a Mahu “people of the middle”, offers an inspiring non-binary take on gender from a non-western perspective.
Grant Arts Centre, Friday 27 Nov, 8pm and Rose Lipman Building, Sunday 29 Nov, 2pm

Favela Gay

A joyful glimpse into what it is like to be queer in contemporary Rio’s poorest neighborhoods. A great diversity of trans people portrayed, university students, street prostitutes, born-again evangelist christians… with their respective struggles for acceptance in the daily grind of the favelas.
Genesis Cinema, Thursday 26 Nov, 9pm

Also don't miss the many trans* short films in our shorts programmes, they're all free to attend.


Festival Team Top Fives - Round One

Posted on Wed 11 Nov by AlexK / Documentary, Film, Trans, Artists Moving Image, Video art, Performance, JT Leroy, literature, QTIPOC, Brazil, BDSM

As every year we bring you the festival team's personal Top 5 films and events. It's never an easy choice to pick five favourites with so many great films and events in the programme but we Make those very difficult decisions for you. Obvs. We're starting off proceedings with the faves of Festival Director Alex, Programmer Josefeen and Fundraising Manager Martin.

Alex - Festival Director

Alex & Ali
Not chosen because of my namesake in the title but because this is an absolute tearjerker on so many levels

General Idea: Video Works, 1977-1984
I first came across General Idea at an exhibition in Berlin over ten years ago. Very excited to be showing the work by this influential collective at this year's fest.

The Last Night in the Life of Alexander Geist
We like to support home-grown talent and I can't wait to present this new work-in-progress by the brilliant La JohnJoseph.

Shorts: Brazil
One of my standout shorts for this year is part of this programme, the hilarious, over the top Floozy Suzy from returning filmmaker Otavio Chamorro (some may remember his last film at Fringe!, the equally brilliant The Bitchhiker)

Naz & Maalik
This lingering first feature by Jay Dockendorf perfectly captures the irrestible chemistry between its lead actors spending a summer afternoon hustling the streets of Brooklyn while cicumnavigating their secret romantic entanglement.

Josefeen - Programmer

Because I love myself some incredibly hot lesbian erotica (=porn)

Liz Rosenfeld's Surface Tension Trilogy
Liz has been part of the Fringe! family since the very first year when she curated a programme of queer porn for us and we're super happy to have her back this year with the world premiere of her trilogy queering the stories of famous women during Weimar Berlin.

Kumu Hina
An absolute feel-good film providing a much needed perspective on the way non-Western cultures deal with gender.

Pushing for PrEP
A timely discussion and screening on one of the top health issues concerning gay men today.

The Cult of JT Leroy
I fucking love this film. There's not much more to say.

Martin - Fundraising Manager

Kumu Hina
An important and sensitive exploration of being trans* in different cultures.

The Lady's Not For Walking Like An Egyptian
All the joys and horrors of the 80s in one show.

Prison System 4614
Chained flogging and a nice cup of tea. Ahhhhh/Ouch!

Panel Discussion: Sexile
Explore queer identity in a world of displacement and hostility

Queer: post-sexual - the box re-examined
Revel in the profusion of our diversity as celebrated in this group session.

Third gender practices around the world

Posted on Tue 10 Nov by AlexK / Documentary, Film, Interview, Trans

by Anna Wates

Not all genders are everywhere the same. This is true not only for the categories male and female, but also for transgender. This year Fringe! presents two remarkable documentaries which explore transgender positions unique to their cultural contexts: Shinjuku Boys, a classic from the feminist archive which takes place in 1990s Tokyo, Japan; and Kumu Hina, a heart-warming doc filmed in present day Honolulu.

In a Western context, non-binary gender positions tend to revolve around the prefix (or standalone identifier) trans-, trans, or trans*. Yet we cannot incautiously attribute these terms to third gender practices everywhere, not least because they emerged from the era of post-Stonewall gay/lesbian politics in the US.

In Kumu Hina we meet the powerful and outspoken, tattoo-covered Hinaleimoana. She is a Hawai’ian Mahu, the local name used by those who embody both male and female spirits. In pre-colonial Hawai’i, as in other places throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia, Mahu once had an important place in society as healers, or gifted and special persons. The film explores Hina’s experience of being Mahu in contemporary Hawai’i, where the culture of Pacific Islanders and their values suffered 200 years of imperialism, violence and colonial religious oppression.

As a teacher at a public charter school dedicated to native Hawaiian culture, language and history, Hina is a cultural icon and guardian of traditions once under threat. We are immediately captivated by her presence when, in an early scene, she chants with such a deep and melodious voice it immediately overpowers a class of self-conscious pubescent boys. “Listen to my voice”, she says, “there’s nothing ‘Wahine’ (feminine) about my voice”. Though Hina uses female pronouns, she is here able to harness ‘Ku’ (energy associated with masculinity) in her position as Mahu – a ‘place in the middle’.  

On the other side of the world, Shinjuku Boys is an intimate portrayal of a cohort of ‘Onnabe’ – persons identified as female at birth who now live and work as men. They are employees at The New Marilyn Club in Tokyo, a ‘host bar’ for (mostly) heterosexual women clients. The roles they assume at work call to mind depictions of masculinity found in Japanese popular culture. For example, Kazuki displays a romantic boy-next-door persona whilst Gaish is dismissive of his customers’ feelings, emulating a tsundere boyfriend who is initially cold before gradually showing a warm side. Beyond this, the film explores a more nuanced reality, with each host adopting a range of different ideas about their gender and sexuality, which can change depending on the context. When a client asks Gaish “What do you think you are?” Gaish responds elegantly: “I don’t think anything. I’m just me”. Later Gaish tells the same client: “There are all kinds of Onnabe”.

Kumu Hina and Shinjuku Boys are both fascinating studies in cultural variety, illustrating how gender practices the world over are as diverse as people are themselves.

Kumu Hina screens on Fri 27th November at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre and on Sun 29th November at the Rose Lipman Building.
Shinjuku Boys screens on Sun 29th November at the Rose Lipman Building.