This week, the Fringe! Queer Film and Arts festival will bring a host of vibrant, diverse and unique events to various venues across East London that celebrate queer art and the LGBTQ experience. With eye-opening indie films telling LGBTQ stories, colourful club nights that will leave you walking home at 4am covered in glitter and sequins, and workshops on everything from voguing to gender definition, this is a festival for the proud outsider that will make you question every preconception you have ever had about sex and gender. We’ve picked out some of the highlights of the festival, from queer film classics to engaging panel discussions.
Film - The Same Difference
This compelling documentary by director Nneka Onuorah focuses on the experiences of queer women of colour, covering the themes of bisexual invisibility, discrimination and restrictive gender performance. Integrating powerful spoken word performance, music and interviews, this documentary explores community relationships and offers a platform for queer women of colour to discuss race, gender and sexuality.
The Same Difference will shown be at Hackney Showroom on Friday 18 November at 7.15pm. Tickets are £5, book here.
Film - Death Becomes Her
Billed as a ‘poisonously camp treat’ by Fringe, this dark comedy follows Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn who drink potions gifted to them by ageing witch Isabella Rossellini, giving them eternal life. The women die but the potion continues to work, turning them into glamorous but sinister drag queen zombies. Don’t miss this queer classic at Rio Cinema in Dalston, and make sure to wear your most glamorous red carpet zombie dress and prepare for raucous audience participation.
Death Becomes Her will be shown on Friday 18 November at 11:30pm at Rio Cinema, Dalston. Tickets cost £11 with £9 concessions. Book here.
Film Shorts - Histories Real and Imagined
This collection of thought-provoking shorts explores hidden life stories that are otherwise so rarely acknowledged, and which are often left to imagination. It includes the provocatively titled When Aids Was Funny which explores the growing aids epidemic in the 1980s and the surrealist animation Lethe which deals with the themes of forgetting, wilderness and possession.
Histories Real and Imagined will be shown at Hackney Showroom on Saturday 19 November at 1pm. Tickets are free but you can book ahead here.
Film - Guru: A Hijra Family
This moving portrait explores the life of a family of transgender women in India - the hijras, known as ‘the third gender’. It looks in detail at 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. Guru reveals something deeply universal about their condition as a social outcast, whilst rejected by others they are able to live as an adopted family in a fulfilled and spiritual environment.
Guru: A Hijra Family will be shown at Hackney Showroom on Saturday 19 November at 5:30pm. Tickets are £5 and can be booked here.
Film - Kiki
This fascinating film showcases how a dance craze can become a form of activism. Voguing originally sprung out of New York City’s Ballroom culture, and twenty-five years later this subculture is still thriving. Kiki explores the notion of creating a safe space governed by queer youth of colour, who use dancing to find happiness and political power. Following seven unique stories, we gain an insight into the subculture whilst also understanding the community’s personal struggles with homelessness, illness and prejudice, all whilst attempting to find a political voice and affirm their self expression.
Kiki will be shown at the Barbican Cinema on Saturday 19 November at 6:15pm. Tickets are £9.50 with £8.50 concessions and can be booked here.
Film Shorts - Self-Define Your Gender Paradigm
This series of shorts will explore the broad question of defining gender expectations and representation. From Fluid Y, Katerina Athanasopoulou’s creative exploration of the bathroom as a site to explore gender fluidity to Patricia Cruz’s Mirada, where a young child plays in the forest of Puerto Rico away from his double life, these shorts diversely and creatively explore the question of gender and its restrictions.
Self-Define Your Gender Paradigm will be shown at Hackney Showroom on Sunday 20 November at 5.30pm. Tickets are free but you can book ahead here.
Panel - Let's Have a Kiki: A Dialogue on Ballroom Culture from New York to London and Beyond
This is the perfect panel for those who want to learn more about the Ballroom scene and its significance within LGBTQ politics. Join Fringe! and English Breakfast London for a roundtable discussion on ballroom, its roots and its legacy in New York City and beyond, with the chance for the audience to participate in the dialogue.
Let’s Have a Kiki will be held at Hackney Showroom on Sunday 20 November at 6pm, tickets are £5 and can be booked here.
Credit: Länsmuseet Gävleborg
The Fringe Queer Film festival runs from 15 November – 20 November at various venues. For more information, full listings and to book, visit their website.