REVIEW – Queer Story Showcase – ‘I Love the Nightlife’

BAME, bisexual, black, gay, homosexual, lesbian, LGBT, media, queer, transgender

When you are invited to film screenings, it can be with dread as the standard is varying to say the least, however I went to the I Love The Nightlife, Queer Story Showcase at the Digital Performance Lab in Salford and was hugely rewarded. The standard of the films on show was exceptionally high.

The brainchild of Queer Media Festival organiser, Jamie Starboisky, the evening showcased eight short films then broke for networking before showing the wonderful Dressed As A Girl feature.

The eight shorts were a mix of international and home grown talent kicking off with gentle drama, Alaska is a Drag, a gay love story in the unlikely setting of an Alaskan cannery, the hilarious Cruising Electric also deserves a mention, look it up on Youtube, as well as the delightfully bonkers MeTube, a trip into the imagination of a repressed soul.

Documentary film Black Lesbian Handbook

Documentary film Black Lesbian Handbook

Documentaries were well served as well with Black Lesbian Handbook delving into lesbian culture and En Vogue proving that 25 years after Madonna brought it to the masses, vogueing is still alive and well.

 

Elena Browne and Neil Ely in-conversation with Adam Lowe

Elena Browne and Neil Ely in-conversation with Adam Lowe

But it was the Manchester double bill that was truly inspiring. The first piece was Painted by Salford University graduate, Elena Browne. I caught up with Elena before the showing to talk about her delve into Manchester’s drag world.

“Painted is a dragumentary which came from always going down Canal Street” she explains “My friends had an obsession with RuPaul and we binged watched Drag Race so it was natural for it to be my dissertation. The film looks at different types of drag, traditional (Misty Chance), new wave (Cheddar Gorgeous and Anna Phylactic) who have honed their art, and alternative (Danny Beard) who has created a whole online persona.”

The film is beautifully edited and really delves into the personalities of these stalwarts of Manchester’s gay scene. “It took about four weeks of filming and a lot of late nights” she laughs “We had an interesting night at Cruz 101, the Gag Ball which was a leather and fetish night”.

Browne now has an internship at Blakeway North but is definitely a name to look out for in the future.

The second Manchester piece was Mirrors by Neil Ely. This is a subtle piece set in a nightclub toilet focussing on two straight lads who find themselves, for whatever reason, in a gay club. Featuring Shameless star Jody Latham and Skins star Liam Boyle, the tempo and style of this simple film is fantastic.

Ely explained in the subsequent question and answer session “I’d written two scripts before but wanted to take it back to when I was coming out, maybe there is a grey area to sexuality”.

Following the break, it was the turn of London producer, Chris Amos to present Dressed As A Girl, a fascinating and fabulous look at alternative drag artists in London who pioneered the infamous Gay Bingo nights.

Q&A with drag artist Cheddar Gorgeous, writer Dave Haslam, film producer Chris Amos and host Adam Lowe.

Q&A with drag artist Cheddar Gorgeous, writer Dave Haslam, film producer Chris Amos and host Adam Lowe.

Set over a period of ten years, the film by Colin Rothbart delves deeply into the psyche of this group of friends who made an indelible mark on the London scene. We join them at their hedonistic height and follow their stories as they all go their separate ways.

The film is searingly honest in examining what drives our heroes dealing with issues such as living with HIV, substance abuse, damaged upbringings and mental illness, making the viewer fall in love with each person in their own way culminating in a wonderful finale as they regroup for one last bingo night.

I would recommend seeing this film and many of the others, the first opportunity you get and I would definitely keep an eye out for more Queer Media events, watching great quality films in friendly surroundings, what more could you need?

by Chris Park for Canal-St Online

More info on Dressed As A Girl and the other films screening as part of Peccadillo Pictures POUT Tour click here.

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Queer Media Festival Goes to BFI Flare

bisexual, gay, lesbian, LGBT, media, queer, transgender, Uncategorized

Every year in March those working in the creative field of film head to London for the BFI’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender film festival: Flare. It is an event we regularly look forward to with the fantastic stories told on screen and the inter-generational creative energy from the LGBT and filmmaking community. Last year we were lucky enough to attend just four weeks after the ending of the first ever Queer Media Festival, which included in-conversations, short film screenings and performances held at MediaCityUK, Salford.

BFI Flare Mike and JamieFresh from February’s finale of the Queer Media Festival’s second year, this year held at the Contact theatre, Manchester, we headed down to London’s South Bank to join our friends, make new contacts and most importantly watch films at Flare. Last year the name Flare was adopted instead of the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival after it was felt the old name was not representative and inclusive enough of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT).

We Are UKFlare has thoughtfully created a wonderful delegate area for people in the industry, press and filmmakers. Featuring a café area, reception desks for attendees, and a viewing area to watch films, it is the perfect place to join in the many talks and round table events held daily. We were honoured to be invited to speak about the Queer Media Festival on the We Are UK panel, the first weekend of Flare, alongside other festival organisers from across the country including Liverpool Pride, Eyes Wide Shut from Brighton, Scottish Queer International Film Festival, London’s Fringe! Film Fest, BFI Flare and the Iris Prize from Cardiff.

This year Flare’s online platform Cinando was a new and welcome addition to the delegate experience, that negated the need to sit through and watch all the films we wanted at the delegate’s viewing gallery. We were now free to enjoy the many networking events, talks, see films not listed on Cinando featuring filmmaker Q&A, and then watch the short films at home as the platform remained available for a few weeks after Flare ended.

BFI Flare 4

All the films at Flare are divided into three streams; Hearts, Bodies, Minds and Cinando featured not just the majority of these but also featured a special Industry Selection of short films only for delegates to view online. We watched the vast array of films that were available online, and it is fantastic to see so many amazing short films being made especially documentaries. It was a shame more short documentary films were not screened for the public to see, as this would have helped us programme them into our next festival based on the audience reaction to them.

BFI Flare 1Of all the feature length documentaries the outstanding ones for us were The Amina Profile, Dressed As A Girl, Save The Tavern and Do I Sound Gay? They all unwrapped the main character featured in the film and explored their story; whether it was Sandra trying to find out the truth about her girlfriend Amina, Jonny Woo nostalgic about his drag past, the former owners of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern reminiscing about the pub’s heyday, or David taking speech classes to sound more masculine.

Watching the characters portrayed it brings home why screening LGBT films is important as for that moment you are drawn into their world, see, hear, feel and understand what it is like for them and for a moment you loose yourself in the silver screen. Viewers may identify with the characters portrayed and it may be helpful to see on screen emotional situations that they have lived through, which gives them great comfort to know that they are not alone in the way they feel, and so no longer isolated and can happily go forward into the world.