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From Birth To Chosen

5 Apr

A vibrant treasure of a collection of short films was shown at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. ‘From Birth To Chosen’  had eight films that explored the areas of gender and family, both born and chosen. With a mix of documentary, drama and comedy, this group of films delighted the audience and left all who saw them contemplating issues of gender identity and what family is all about.

The programme started with a U.S. documentary, ‘The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children’, which interviewed various family members from several families about the issues that both they,  and their children,  faced in society and amongst friends and peers. This touching, candid film was very moving. It was refreshing to see the family love and support that was given to the children concerned. With a wealth of different experiences and emotions felt between the interviewees, this film provided a sense of hope and recognition to many.

Another short film from the U.S., ‘Loop Plane’ was a gem of a film. With a fictional story set in an amusement park, following a day in the life of a transgender teen who lives and works there with his supportive father, this wonderful short took you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Beautifully acted and directed, and with some quite stunning cinematography, this film is definitely worth looking out for.

Nominated by the LLGFF for the Iris Short Film Prize (which is one of, if not the, gay and lesbian short film awards), ‘James Dean’ was a smart, funny short set in Scotland. Perfectly capturing the way families behave, argue and relate, all whilst waiting in a car ready for a family outing, this amusing film pleased the audience no end. Everyone could relate to the way families bicker, support or disagree, and the ‘punchline’ towards the end of the film was fabulous.

‘Spiral transition’ was a personal exploration of the development of relations between a mother and her trans son, from the moment when he first finds out her feelings about his transitioning. ‘Absence’ was an artily crafted short about gender fluidity, and the way some have to navigate between identities, in order to relate to family members. ‘Living Room: Bar Wotever 2008-2009’ is the first installment of an ongoing project by Dr Jane, about the people who go to the fantastic Bar Wotever, and what the space means to them. It gave a real sense of why Bar Wotever is cherished by so many and incorporated some of Dr Jane’s stunning photographs as well.

Filmed as a pilot for a possible series, ‘Traverse City’ followed the adventures of a woman and her trans boyfriend as they cross the U.S. to meet her gay male parents. Much comedy was had from the reactions of the gay father, the seperate sexual adventures of the non-monogomous central couple, and the awkwardness of having a partner meet the parents for the first time, which most can relate to. Incorporating comedy, drama, animation and fantasy, this had the audience laughing out loud and waiting for the next installment.

The final film in the selection was ‘Bella Maddo’. This fantastic comic melodrama was about a self-obsessed pregnant wife and mother, and the hell she brings on most of her loved ones. Although none of the characters in the story were transgendered, all the actors in the film were. Co-writer, director and amazing star of the film, Janice Danielle, wanted to make a film that showcased talented trans performers, in roles they may usually not be considered for. This hilarious film had a great sense of heightened drama (in the best possible way!) and was shot, written, directed and acted to a very high standard. It made ‘Mommie Dearest’ seem tame by comparison, and was extremely well received by the audience.

Hopefully you will all get the chance to see this great collection of films. You will be amused, enlightened and have your heart touched by the films.

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Mutantes (Punk Porn Feminism)

3 Apr

Showing at the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival,  ‘Mutantes (Punk Porn Feminism)’  is a documentary about the sex positive feminist movement, as seen by the activists, sex workers and performers. Virginie Despentes (director of the film ‘Baise-Moi’ amongst others) has interviewed a wide-range of pro-sex performers, academics, film makers and activists across the U.S and Europe, notably France and Spain. With clips from various porn films and performance pieces interspersed throughout, this winner of the CHE ‘Derek Oystan Film Award’ at this years’ LLGFF, is thought-provoking, entertaining, sexy and informative.

The list of interviewees is extensive, starting with Annie Sprinkle, who always manges to raise a smile and challenge prejudice in an enlightened and humourous way, Carol Queen and other women from the early days of the pro-sex feminist era. We follow the changes, growth and expansion of ideologies from the early 1980s to the present day, demonstrated by the views, activism and porn produced by the punk porn movement’s new radicals in France and Barcelona. The way the shift in feminist thinking has occurred over the decades shows how there is constant change as our understanding of gender, femininities and masculinities and sex itself is constantly challenged and built upon.

This refreshing, provocative film has many instances of humour, politics and what the pleasures and limitless expectations of sex is all about. It will leave the viewer with much to think about, as well as the memory of some hot films, which I am sure you will want to remember the titles of. Some of these clips have not been widely seen before, and will leave you wanting to seek them out to view in full. It also helps you rediscover some lost classics; I, myself, had forgotten the joys of Lydia Lunch’s fishnet clad ass as well as Tribe8’s ferocious BDSM influenced live performances. Strong, intelligent women, with a pro-sex, ethical feminist stance and aesthetic, that will hopefully counteract what is unfortunately an often misogynist porn industry, can only be a good thing. Let’s hope we get the chance to see more work from the punk porn feminist movement, and open up all our eyes to what is possible.

I Love You, But..

18 Mar

On 20th March, from 7-10pm, The Oval House Theatre hosts ‘I Love You, But We Only Have Fourteen Minutes To Save The Earth’, a mixture of live and video performances. Created, directed and developed by Nathan Evans, the talented performer known for his work at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the show boasts some of the best gender and genre-defying acts that grace our appreciative performance venues.

The wonderful, acerbic, intelligent and (very, very!) funny David Hoyle, reigning Alternative Miss World and (sometime) Bluestocking Society performer Fancy Chance, and bearded lady, homespun philosopher Timberlina, will be performing live. All-round icon, legend and actor Betty Bourne and video artist Kate Pelling will be performing in projected form.

The project gives each unique performer the chance to display their amazing talents within the remit of the title’s outline. This show promises to deliver some of the most thought-provoking, intelligent and amusing performances available at the present time. Tickets cost £5, and I doubt you will find a better priced evening’s entertainment. A one-off show that will delight and inform on a discourse we can all relate to.

London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

11 Mar

logo for the 25th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

 

Running from the 31st March until the 6th April, the BFI LLGFF will be a place to watch some great films, get involved in some equally fabulous events and hang out with friends, lovers and many a queer cinephile. This year celebrates the 25th anniversary of the event. Originally starting out as a short festival with just a handful of films, the LLGFF has grown over the years to become one of the hotspots of LGBTQ community entertainment.

This year, due to cuts in funding, the festival will be shorter than it has been in recent years, running just one week. However, the programmers have still managed to select a comprehensive range of films that should interest many a film-goer. With new films, world premieres, workshops, interviews and many classic documentaries and dramas on offer, there is something for everyone.

Gregg Araki’s latest film Kaboom opens the festival, and if you’ve been a fan of his earlier work (Totally F***ed Up and The Doom Generation) this film will not disappoint, as it visits similar themes. We Are Family, the LLGFF film event for kids, their families and friends is now in its third year. Showing LGBT themed cartoons and film clips and with an array of activities and performances, this is always a popular event. There are also many other features and short films that will appeal to a diverse LGBT and straight film-loving crowd, with many themed events throughout the course of the festival.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on the 18th of March. As the festival is shorter this year, no doubt tickets will be in great demand. Not only do you get to see some excellent films, but you have the chance to meet and mix with a predominantly LGBT crowd at one of London’s best arts spaces.  So, here’s your ‘heads up’ to the hottest event this spring!