Now in its ninth year Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest has established itself as a hugely anticipated fixture on any discerning queer filmgoer’s calendar. Organised and run single-handedly by volunteers, it continues to offer a refreshing, daring and exciting alternative to some of the arguably more bland offerings of queer cinema elsewhere. Taking up residency in the East End of London, Fringe! presents a typically eclectic programme ranging from film screenings at the Barbican and the Rio through to exhibitions, talks and more (even an afternoon spanking class, should your Sunday be lacking).
From a cinema perspective, the festival opens with the UK premiere of Wig, the HBO documentary focusing on the legendary Wigstock drag festival and features Lady Bunny, Willam among many others. Elsewhere there is the intriguing Oz drama and self-described “disruptive and queer revenge fable” Terror Nullis, cult 2002 documentary The Cockettes which focuses on the titular, infamous LSD-heavy gender-fluid theatre group in early 70s San Francisco and the body-positive documentary Nothing to Lose.
The centrepoint to the festival has always been the late night cult screening at the gorgeous Rio cinema in Dalston. Previous years had hosted wild presentations of Showgirls, Romy & Michelle and Grease 2 where quoting, dancing and screeching were both present and encouraged. This year goes that bit extra marking the 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid with a drag-a-long special hosted by Holestar and where you’ll be sure to find out why it is better down where it’s wetter.
The festival closes on Sunday 17th November with Top 3, a Swedish animated romantic comedy about two teenage lovebirds and the agony of being in love when you know it can’t be a reality in the longterm.
As previously mentioned, there’s a feast of non-cinema offerings to get stuck into as well. Rio are hosting a zine fair, Sutton House plays host to a Madonna symposium to discuss the queen of pop in intense and possibly critical detail, a range of late night parties at Dalston Superstore and the Stoke Newington Town Hall as well as several exhibitions and talks across the weekend.
Fringe! goes from strength to strength and judging by the numbers that flock increasingly year-on-year, another successful packed programme is ahead of us. Enjoy!
By Jonny Carey
FRINGE! QUEER FILM & ARTS FEST runs in East London 12th-17th November 2019 and year-round. For the full lineup and to purchase tickets head to the official Fringe! website here.