Thursday, April 25, 2013

20th anniversary of MOW

My, how time flies. 20 years ago today I was strolling the Mall in Washington, DC, along with about one million other queer folk, at the oh-so-catchily monikered March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. The name was debated for MONTHS before it was agreed upon.

I attended some of the Bay Area organising meetings, which were excruciating at times. Whom to include? Whom not to? How to appear? So much attention given to not offending the mainstream. Sheesh.

Still, the trip was glorious, especially the first Dyke March the night before the main march, with a trip past the White House and the Lesbian Avengers eating fire. Sent shivers up my spine.

CSpan has a recording of the stage. But this is a short clip.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Movement in Light: Pure Figures in Motion

The third in the series (I missed the second, owing to Fringe!) exploring the work of Man Ray and his followers, this programme of shorts at the NPG went in surprising directions, as it took in the many possibilities of cameraless cinema.

Or should that be para-cinema? The first work was Light Time, a performance by Amy Dickson of candles being lit behind a screen, the black covering burning off as the flame generated heat. So, this was all about the light and its movement.

Other works actually involved film, such as Joanna Byrne's Manifestoh!, a clever work juxtaposing increasingly panicked news reports of the 2008 (and beyond) financial meltdown with text from the Communist Party Manifesto. It might have been even more clever, had we been able to read the words, which scrolled across the screen as mere abstract graphics.

Luke Aspell's Luminance Gradients was a feat of endurance, which really should have had an epilepsy warning, as the flashes of white light were accompanied by a soundtrack of tape hiss. I shut my eyes for this one.

Half of the films were silent, and the audience was polite enough to remain silent, except for the event photographer, who did not make use of the camera's quiet option, the shutter noise punctuating the atmosphere with a "ba-jee-ka" every 10 seconds or so. Most irritating.

The closer was another live performance, The Glass by Jamie Jenkinson, a series of glass sculptures forming patterns on the walls, as they rotated around what looked like a turntable (old skool!), with varying effects.

Quite enduring, this play of light in a darkened room. It could have legs yet.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fringe! pictured

School of Fringe! entrance; photo by Val Phoenix

 Still recuperating from my weekend, even though I didn't actually get to many Fringe! screenings.

Rio Cinema ticket booth; photo by Val Phoenix

 The nervous energy expended anticipating my screening and Q&A on Sunday sapped me.

Julia Ostertag; photo by Val Phoenix

The sun, while not helpful for bums in seats, did provide a welcome accompaniment to some post-screening fellowship.

Julia Ostertag introducing And You Belong; photo by Val Phoenix

I also spent some time in a walking tour of Dalston seeking out elusive Vietnamese noodles for
 filmmaker Julia Ostertag, ahead of her closing night film, And You Belong.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Roll out the red carpet

Still from Totally Girl Powered by Val Phoenix
Making short films is not a glamourous exercise. There's none of the romance of the feature, of being recognised as a proper filmmaker with a cast and crew, although that can be a slog.

So, it's a rare pleasure to be able to say: "My film is having its world premiere next week at a cinema in London." OK. I've never been able to say that, but it is true. My film Totally Girl Powered is having its world premiere next week at the Rio in Dalston, as part of Fringe! festival.

This is great on two counts: it's showing in an actual cinema. Not only that, but it's a cinema I know well and have attended. It was my local when I lived in Dalston in the '90s. And it has a fabulous history as an Art Deco Hackney landmark, including hosting punk gigs in the '70s. Marlene Marder writes in her book about playing there. I can't remember if it was with Kleenex or LiLiPUT.

Anyway, TGP is the taster for Itty Bitty Titty Committee, which I have always felt is a bit of a Riot Grrrl throwback, although released in 2006. So, it'll be a bit of a RG afternoon, with fantastic music and fiery women on the silver screen.

There's loads of other great stuff at Fringe! this year, including art, performance, and plenty of features and shorts! It's pleasing to see work by Barbara Hammer, Rosa von Praunheim and Derek Jarman getting an airing alongside new filmmakers. And I am moderating a closing night Q&A, the world premiere of Julia Ostertag's documentary on Scream Club,  And You Belong.

Once TGP has had its premiere, I can put it back up on Vimeo. Until then, hope to see you in sunny Dalston or thereabouts.