Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest continues to shine as one of London’s most vibrant, friendly & boundary-breaking festivals. Still run entirely by volunteers – & fresh from a last-minute change in venue – 2019 looks as fabulous as ever. Here’s our RADIANT CIRCUS Top Ten picks of this year’s fest.
By RADIANT CIRCUS
We love Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest and not just because we’re friends. RADIANT CIRCUS celebrates the DIY boundary breakers of London’s alternative cinema scene, and every year, month or week even, the folk at Fringe! show us how. It’s not just that they screen films made by and for communities far from the mainstream, but they also have a sassy habit of eschewing dry definitions of ‘queer’ to show how creative, diverse and – naysayers aside – thrillingly alive London’s queer community really is. If you haven’t been along to one of their festivals, you might be in for a shock, but you might also just find your favourite homos away from home.
Standing proud amongst the more sex-positive of London’s queer cinema offerings, you can spend your time between screenings nestled in the festival’s Love Hub – newly relocated to the Rose Lipman Building following some behind the scenes hijinks we haven’t quite understood… You’ll find workshops there about, amongst other things, genital crafting (16 NOV 16:00), PREP (16 NOV 17:30), a social history of poppers + ‘tasting’ (16 NOV 21:00), a spanking masterclass (17 NOV 13:00), and, for those who want to go deeper, anal fisting for beginners (17 NOV 16:00).
If all of that sounds worryingly hardcore, fear not… Fringe! is first and foremost a spectacularly friendly and welcoming event: no cinematic sands will be thrown in your face, no industry in-crowd will shove you aside. No matter how you self-define (and especially if you don’t…), you will find yourself amongst forever friends.
We had a wonderful time collaborating with Fringe! on our Lunchtime Film Society popup cinema last month. Now, our RADIANT CIRCUS Barker-In-Chief will be volunteering behind the bar at the Fringe! festival hub for another year… So, in between your screenings and workshops, do come over and say hi (just don’t make your drinks order too complicated…).
TOP TEN FRINGE! 2019
Opening Film: WIG d. Chris Moukarbel, 2019 at Rio Cinema + Before/After Party at Dalston Superstore (12 NOV 20:30):
- Fringe! speaks: “From an impromptu performance for no one in particular in Tompkins Square Park Bandshell in 1984, to the DIY community festival that became a mecca for performers, who ‘dragged’ the art form from counterculture to the mainstream we see today, WIG is the inspiring history of Wigstock. Not settling on being just another glossy accolade, this documentary isn’t afraid to throw some shade in bringing this inter-generational story to life, with a close look at how these queens influence queerness, art, and identity today.”
TERROR NULLIUS d. Soda_Jerk, 2019 at Genesis Cinema (13 NOV 21:00):
- Fringe! speaks: “A disruptive and queer revenge fable, decolonising and queering the narratives that have shaped Australian pop culture. Come prepared for your jaw to drop and to never watch MAD MAX the same way again. Rigorously researched and masterfully remixed samples are juxtaposed and interwoven to subvert narratives about the media fictions and cultural histories taking aim at the dominant narrative of homophobia, racism and xenophobia. Lip-glossed, leather-babe Olivia Newton-John in GREASE and bunny-hopping BMX BANDIT Nicole Kidman reconfigure the wastelands of MAD MAX as today’s refugee detention sites. Flesh-eating sheep are anti-colonial anarchists and a feminist motorcycle gang rampages righteously to un-write Australian history. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before.”
THE SAD GIRLS OF THE MOUNTAINS d. Candy Flip & Theo Meow, 2019 + Q&A with the directors + Short: NOT YOUR ORDINARY SISTER d. Maša Zia Lenárdič & Anja Wutej at The Castle Cinema (14 NOV 21:00):
- Fringe! speaks: “Hetero-patriarchal- capitalism not sparking joy? The Sad Girls feel the same way. Welcome to their feminist micro-utopia where they flourish in self- imposed exile in the mountains, making sex-positive DIY porn as a coping mechanism (as well as a way to fund female Kurdish militia groups.) This mockumentary explores the pervasive limits of the male gaze when met with The Sad Girls, who transmit subversive socio-political messages of sadness through their pay-walled pornography as a response to the trans-misogynist violence that saturates sex. This is their act of counter-cultural resistance.”
FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES d. Kang-chien Chiu, 1966 at Rose Lipman Building (15 NOV 19:00):
- Fringe! speaks: “Set in Tokyo’s dazzling underground queer scene, this kaleidoscopic masterpiece from the late 60s follows self-defined “gay-boys” Eddie and Leda in their violent love-triangle with club owner Gonda in an erotic and unapologetic phantasmagoria that shatters expectations, and notions of gender. This screening marks the 50th anniversary of a key pioneering work of Japanese New Wave and Asian queer cinema.”
THE LITTLE MERMAID d. Ron Clements & John Musker, 1989 A DRAG-A-LONG at Rio Cinema (15 NOV 23:30):
- Fringe! speaks: “In the words of Mae West/Divine-inspired sea-witch, Ursula, “Life’s full of tough choices, isn’t it?” But at least there’s only one place in the world you could possibly be on Friday night… at this late-night, 30th anniversary immersive screening of the Disney classic. With live drag performances from Holestar and a shoal of special guests, join us for an unforgettable evening under the sea, and find out why it is better down where it’s wetter.”
06. + 07.
- Fringe! speaks: “Club des Femmes celebrates 40 years of Circles and The Cinema of Women (COW)/Cinenova – feminist film distribution, with an event that showcases some of the films from the catalogue. The screenings feature a number of short low-budget experimental films, that represent the early work of British based lesbian filmmakers. Taking their inspiration from the black, gay/lesbian and women’s liberation movements of the period, the films are concerned with resistance & activism, as well as with passion & poetry. Presented by Selina Robertson & Bev Zalcock with Club des Femmes.”
GREEN SNAKE d. Tsui Hark, 1993 + Panel Discussion at The Castle Cinema (16 NOV 18:00):
- Fringe! speaks: “Iconic Hong Kong director Tsui Hark’s lush, mesmerising, and vividly revisionist adaptation of Lillian Lee’s eponymous novel is based on a Chinese folk tale commonly known as Legend of the White Snake. Green Snake, Siu Ching (Maggie Cheung) follows her sister White Snake, Bak Sei Juen (Joey Wang) to the human world, and struggles to understand what it means to be human. While Bak Sei Juan emphasises her own humanity by devoting herself to the relationship she has with her husband, Siu Ching is presented as reckless, innocent and confused about what love and humannes mean to her. At the same time, the sisters are threatened and hunted by an unprincipled Buddhist monk (Vincent Zhao) and a vain Taoist, both of whom are distrustful of the snake spirits and their allegedly evil intentions. As a result of this conflict, Bak Sei Juen and Siu Ching must fight to prove their humanness.”
SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET d. Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen, 2019 + Short: STANLEY STELLAR: HERE FOR THIS REASON d. Eric Levan at Rio Cinema (17 NOV 16:00):
- Fringe! speaks: “When Freddy Kruger slashed his way into our nightmares in 1984, audiences just couldn’t get enough of the demonic child killer. The first of the inevitable sequels, was 1985’s A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE which is also known in horror lore as “The Gay One”. Gone is our final girl, replaced with the sexy teenage butt of Mark Patton, a young and closeted star on the rise. This was supposed to be Mark’s big break but ended up being his WORST NIGHTMARE. Homoerotic even to the most ramrod straight guy, the sequel featured S&M shower scenes, fetish bars, and young torsos bathed in terror-sweat. Fans hated it and it died at the box office. But for Mark Patton the nightmare never ended.”
Closing Film: TOP 3 d. Sofie Edvardsson, 2019 + Shorts: DANCES d. Ramon Watkins + DELIVERY BOY d. Hugo Kenzo at Genesis Cinema (17 NOV 20:30 – main featured image!):
- Fringe! speaks: “Who said queers can’t have romantic comedies? Our bittersweet and brilliantly funny closing film TOP 3 takes us along for a ride, following the love story of two high school sweethearts. Obsessive list-maker Anton falls for bright-eyed, audacious David the moment they meet. Their whirlwind romance matures into a relationship spanning continents, but what do you do when you realise that your dreams and ambitions are in direct competition to those of your soulmate? This gorgeous Swedish animation, in all its kaleidoscopic, psychedelic glory, perfectly captures that feeling when you are in love with someone that you just can’t be with.”
FRINGE! QUEER FILM & ARTS FEST
“Since 2011, Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest has been an entirely volunteer-run organisation rooted in London’s queer creative scene. In Novembers, and throughout the year, we showcase an eclectic mix of films, arts and events celebrating LGBTIQA+ stories from around the world, welcoming everybody.”
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*THE SMALL PRINT: As accurate as we could make it. Apologies for any errors. Updates & corrections will be made to the online version. Event dates/times are subject to change by the venue/organiser. We try to only list events you can book for at the time of posting: however, some events may still be sold out. Please click quickly! We don’t filter by age/certification: all readers & subscribers should be 18+.