The Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival
On Sunday 20 November, The Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest finished its fifth outing, featuring its usual fare of film screenings, talks, parties and...'Spanking'! Movies and documentaries traversed from Vogueing in New York (‘Kiki’) to ‘Death Becomes Her’, a brilliant double-act with Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. Started in 2011 the festival is mainly in London's Hackney area and surrounds but as it has grown it has come further West which is where A Clodhopper finally got its shit together and made it down for the last and final day.
At the Barbican centre, in its beautifully manicured conservatory it was 'Queer Gestures: A forecast project' curated and produced by 'I'm With You'. A Series of international artists were asked to reflect on our “period of unprecedented flux and to make predictions about what happens next”. For her presentation 'It is Decidedly So' Season Butler created a feeling of never ending tasks, repetition, and a seemingly insurmountable process as she repeatedly typed words and reset her typewriter that lead nowhere. The accompanying notes poignantly say “we'll waste precious hours reaching for an ever-receding horizon”... Season alongside Christa Holka, R. Justin Hunt and Johanna Linsley make up the 'I'm With you' group of artist who curated the event and, together, produced 'Layers: A Score for solo public performance'. A fascinating piece where you were encouraged to take an onion and and peel it layer by layer, inhaling through your nose, as you peeled you conceptualised each layer as something from your life. The end game was to cry but sadly A Clodhopper's onion only left smelly fingers and a tidy mess in our lap – but we actually really wanted to cry – we were not alone.
While our friends went to a free seminar with spanking expert, artist and sexual educator Miss England at the Hackney Showroom, 'A Clodhopper' caught the first of TWO sold out short film sessions 'Queer, Far, Wherever You Are'. A 'genus Allium' line seemed to drawn as the first film was Reetta Elviira's 'Onionskin'. A whimsical and well directed short featuring tiny queer pairings born from the tears of an aquatic plant, their separation and fight to rejoin each other was sensitive and suspenseful. Juan Beiro's incredible film 'Vanilla' was a wonderful and original take on grief for those of us who have lost someone close. If the the last words from your lover was “this dog looks like a meatball” or your granddaughter's were a text message with “WTF” it brings a unique perspective on death and loss. A brilliantly acted, written and directed film that packed so much emotion into ten minutes. Another highlight was Eduardo Barreto's film 'Pastry', filmed on Columbia Road in London it's a wonderfully clever and titillating film about love, and seduction, via cream-filled pastries. The description of custard slices, chocolate eclairs and sponge cakes make for mouth watering, sexually charged flirtation that is equally innocent, so much so it could probably play on pre 'watershed' or 'safe harbor' timeslot on television.
Last of all was 'Self-define your gender paradigm' a series of shorts, predominantly featuring films geared towards trans men, altogether varying from the sobering, the empowering and the downright hilarious. 'I am a Woman' by Kay Fi'ain was brilliantly executed as spoken word artist Azara Meghie, breakdances: freezes, floor rocks and top rocks whilst her narration explores expectations around gender and presentation. 'Being Unbound' by Anna Wistreich told the sobering story of Tanzanian trans men trying to create safe spaces, the characters where incredible to listen to, the stories of corrective rape and abandonment by family were heartbreaking.
The last film in the series of shorts was 'New Male Privilege Presents Cistem Cisgame' by Tanja Wol. A hilarious, informed but satyrical and humorous take on trans-exclusionary femism by means of “trans post-boyband” New Male Privilege. Challenging “biological feminists” to the beat of Britney Spears – Oops I did it again is one of those rare masterstrokes of humour, popular culture and essay worthy critique. The Queer Fringe Festival was launched in 2011 as a response to arts cuts and to provide a less mainstream option for queer film and arts, and is growing every year. Watch this space, the spanking and its films as the future looks ever so bright and fantastically queer.