InterMedia at ITV Studios

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We arrived at the ITV Headquarters on London’s Southbank after being whisked down on a scenic journey from Manchester by Virgin trains, and met up with rest of our friends from February’s festival and after networking for a while took our seats in the audience, as the sun set over the Thames, for an important discussion with InterMedia‘s members about some of the lastest anti-bullying campaigns.

ITV Creative and Stonewall have been working together to tackle homophobic bullying with their School Sponsorship Anti-bullying project, and Stephen Barber and Grivas Kopti talked about work they had done creating a poster to highlight people’s perceptions of LGBT issues and discussing homophobic phrases. ITV has also produced a video featuring employees such as Sonia, who works on This Morning, to encourage people to speak up for support whilst they’re at school. Working in partnership like this they produced Vines and Instagam videos that really had the ability to reach the younger generation with an important message.

Following on from the encouraging words from ITV we heard in a video message from Shaun Dellenty who founded Inclusion For All, a new initiative the deputy head primary school teacher had devised to train teachers on how to communicate the impact of the negative use of the word gay in schools. ITV isn’t alone in the work it is doing with schools and Hannah Kibirige from Stonewall talked about their campaign No Bystanders to impress on people that words leant at school carry on into adult life. Stop it at the start and don’t be a bystander is their powerful message.

Hailing from Manchester and also having done the LGBT Heritage Walk of the rainbow tiles in the city centre we knew the tragic tale of Albert Kennedy and the trust formed after his death. AKT formed in 1989 after Kennedy, a gay man, fell to his death from a city centre car park after being pursed by a homophobic gang, and aim to provide a range of services to meet the individual needs of those who would otherwise be homeless or living in a hostile environment.

When Stephanie Fuller from AKT stood to talk about the charity, even though she felt apologetic she may bring the room’s positive mood down, we knew what she had to say was important as many in the room being based in London may not of heard of the charity. There is still work with LGBT teens that is still vital and ongoing and even Stephanie said, when she recently started in the job that she was surprised at the level of need for support that still continues today. She told us how one recent outing by a school teacher resulted in a young boy being stabbed, and then kicked out of home.

These days pupils can be easily outed through social media and the lack of representation of LGBT people in the media means there are no positive role models for this younger generation. Visibility is very important which is something we aim to continue to support through our next Queer Media Festival events with queer film screenings and conversations with LGBT media professionals. Things will change even if it is not as fast was we would like but together we are heading in the right direction.

Many thanks to InterMedia and ITV for a fantastic worthwhile event.

To London for the BFI Flare Festival

gay, LGBT, media, queer

We have always had a massive interest in LGBT films and have been for many years avid fans of the BFI Southbank’s wonderful London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival now renamed BFI Flare but not only was the name different but we were lucky enough to be attending this year as delegates. There aren’t so many LGBT films screened in Manchester so our trip down meant we were lucky enough to get to see several films in what is always a sold out event.

This was a great opportunity for us to watch new and archive films and attend the industry seminars to learn from established festival programmers on how they find content, decide what to schedule and how they make choices through the plethora of shorts we could view in the viewing gallery.

We were very keen to see the short films and discover what had been submitted and this year the films had been placed into sub strands of Hearts, Minds or Bodies and it was anyone’s guess which one was going to light our senses the most.

The first set of shorts we saw were the Hearts as there was three sets of compilations in that section that explored close encounters, the heart’s desire and the tangle of relationships and as we watched the passion in the stories we were drawn in to these fantastic films.

After hours of watching all of the shorts submitted to BFI Flare we noted down those that had us captured, taken and had told a story to us which is important for a festival inspired by the TEDx talk by Chocolat writer Joanne Harris, where she described the power of stories and how they have the power to effect incredible changes. Watching all those films wasn’t a chore it truly felt a privilege as we got to travel the world and into different people’s lives and see things they saw and feel how they felt and it was an incredible journey of love, pain, frustration, or new hope and all other emotions too many to detail all in the snap shot that is a short film.

The best compilation of shorts we watched was the You’re The One, Aren’t You? that combined shorts featuring the couple next door that wants to try swinging to the lonely astronaut longing for love, these were funny and tender films that all proved that relationships are never easy.

Photo credit: QueerMediaUK

Graphic design: The concept behind our logo

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Graphic design: The concept behind our logo

The front draws inspiration from 1920s posters, particularly those of the Cannes Film Festival which often featured sleek simple visuals that conveyed the meaning of the event in a minimalist yet colourful way. The skyline is that of Media City UK in Salford, the location of the event. The fan bridge on the left connects to the city via the 7 colours of the rainbow. This symbolises the bridge of understanding and unity that the event seeks to build.

This logo was the result of creating a vintage style poster that feature Media City UK’s skyline. In this logo, it has been given an LGBT twist to symbolise a bridge to LGBT understanding and unity. Features on print media, digital and will be animated for the film festival. Font used throughout is the Nevis font. This kind of font was commonly seen in 1920s posters and so for this poster, it fits right in. Social media imagery sees an exaggerated emphasis on the bridge connectors but the skyline still present. This evolved into the more abstract logo seen at the top. Images and concept created by Tom Simmons

What’s in a name? Welcome to Queer Media UK…

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Here’s a YouTube clip of our wonderful logo animated into an advert ready for this year’s event.

We hope you enjoyed our inaugural festival in February where we screened a range of 20 short films and our hosts held six in conversations with LGBT media professionals on our sofa on stage and plans are already underway for the 2015 festival to be bigger and better. The fantastic feedback we received as the festival closed was so encouraging to hear and it was a superb opportunity to see just how creative and dynamic the queer community in the North West really is. Photos for the event are available at our Facebook page.

The next big thing we are looking forward to is attending the BFI Flare – the newly renamed London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival which is on 20 – 30 March and we are really happy to hear that the BFI have launched a new collection of some of their LGBT films on the BFI Player, with features, shorts and exclusive content from the festival, plus a special collection of queer classics and rare treasures from the BFI National Archives.

There is an interesting quote on what the BFI thought about renaming the festival queer in one of their blog posts before the new name was announced; “Queer used to really feel like a slap in the face, a hard, harsh word that was like an assault before the trendies took it as a badge of pride. Sexual politics is a febrile, changing territory and badges tell a story about identity too.”

Their blog post explains after the announcement why queer didn’t make the cut; “Although ‘queer’ is used often as a genre term and it’s something a huge number of our audience and wider LGBT community identify with, it was equally clear from audience feedback that a significant number don’t.”

In the North West we found that there is great heritage to naming LGBT events queer such as the Queer Contact theatre festival, the Queer Up North international festival, the bar Queer,  and the Sheffield Doc/Fest with their Queer Screen film strand.  We wanted an identity that would reach out and appeal to everyone as using queer can be a more inclusive word than simply an acronym and the potential ambiguity of what is queer means it can include not just sexuality and gender but also the questioning and unknown without too ridged a label.

Queer can be percieved as either retro, political or aggressive and after working for a theatre production recently commemorating the Peterloo Massacre it seems appropriate to consider the values that this word has as important in the context of a festival based in Manchester, which has a significant history of fighting for social reform such as the Suffragettes and the Section 28 protests in the 1990s.

To view the Storify story of the journey of our hashtag #QMFUK from our first tweet through to the social media generated during and after the festival click here.

A big thank you to all the film makers and here is a list of all the films we screened:

Last Session and Pretty Policeman by VADA theatre group

Polaroid Girl by April Maxey

Journey To The Centre Of Uranus by Gerard Gudgion

Animated showreel from LGYM

Vinegar to Jam by Ben Walters

The Break by Alexis Mitchell

#LoveAlwaysWins and Homecoming by Mike Buonaiuto

Children 404 by Anonymous

Acceptance by Belford Films

Kit by Bruno Collins and Craig Daniel Adams

Silence by Neil Ely

One Shot by Dietrich Brüggemann

What I Love About Being Queer by Vivek Shraya

(A) Typical Couple by Masa Zia Lenardic

10 Men by Graham Clayton-Chance

Recently In The Woods by Daniel van Westen

I’m Yours by Chase Joynt

Sisyfuss by Navid Sinaki

Cake Tin by Clementine Doll