Fringe! returns for its eighth year with a diverse, provocative and outrightly political programme of film screenings alongside workshops, panels and parties, transforming venues across East London over six days.
Founded in 2011 as a community-led response to cuts to arts funding and the detrimental impact on LGBT+ art and cultural production, the festival is committed to celebrating the best in queer filmmaking, from the DIY to the high budget. Fringe! remains entirely volunteer-run and not-for-profit, whilst having become a landmark cultural event in London’s queer calendar.
Fringe! 2018 opens with powerful and effervescent documentary When the Beat Drops, which charts the development of ‘bucking’, an energetic and competitive form of dance, through the ambitions of a group of black gay men in Atlanta.
In what can sometimes feel like dark political times, Fringe! burns bright with a focus on activism in film. Criminal Queers is an astute comedy, taking aim at the prison industrial complex in the USA with a tongue in cheek charm, complete with cameos from prison activists Angela Davis and CeCe McDonald. In Obscuro Barroco, we meet an icon of Brazil’s queer subculture, Luana Muniz, who guides us through a contrasting world of protest and beauty.
A decidedly literary theme runs throughout this year’s programme. Closing night film Wild Nights with Emily offers a comic reimagining of Emily Dickinson’s rumoured sapphic encounters, with Molly Shannon playing the famously reclusive poet and cameos from the likes of Genevieve Turner. The UK Premiere of The Rest I Make Up revisits the life of Maria Irene Fornes, arguably one of the most influential and yet least known playwrights of the 20th century as well as being Susan Sontag’s lover.
In a new partnership, Fringe! has worked with Hackney based LGBT+ youth support group, Project Indigo, to curate a free shorts programme which will be screened at festival hub, Hackney House. Over the course of four months, a group of 13 to 25-year-olds worked collaboratively with Fringe! to create a selection of eleven shorts from over 400 submissions.
Other highlights include a screening of 1978’s The Wiz which takes the festival’s regular late-night singalong slot celebrating campy classics from the cinematic past. This often overlooked cult gem is at turns mesmerising and downright strange, offering a magical urban reimagining of the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. With a notably entirely African-American cast, The Wiz stars Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor among others, and is screened in partnership with BlackOut UK .
As ever, Fringe! boasts a broad array of free events from zinemaking workshops to performance nights, live podcasts (including from female-focused film podcast Broad Appeal ) and queer pottery! All this in addition to eleven free short-film programmes ranging from the experimental to the sexy, and more!
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.