A Beginners’ Guide To Finding Queer Film In London:
Finding your crowd in a new city is always difficult and London is no exception. That is exactly why we have compiled a list of three venues, collectives/programmers and festivals that showcase Queer cinema so you have everything you need to get stuck in. This article will cover screening events in London which will give you a good foundation of where to look for events that screen Queer film.
Before we start, it’s helpful to know what you might expect at a screening event. The traditional format of a screening event is arriving at the venue, finding your seat, the event is introduced, the screening of the films, any added value at the end of the screening, you leave. Added value could be a Q&A with someone relevant to the event (such as the director of the films), a live music performance, a party, or anything else which is an additional draw to the event. Screening events are a fantastic way to see films that are rarely screened, hard to find, or in a new context. Luckily, in London they can be found everywhere.
The Otherness Archive is an archive dedicated to documenting and screening queer films (both archive and contemporary) with an emphasis on trans identities. They reclaim the ‘othering’ that oppressed people have faced as a means of empowerment, hence the ‘Otherness Archive’. To get a sense of the kind of stuff they show, I’ll tell you about an event they did early this year. It was called the ‘Otherness Archive: the forgotten archives of the trans masc experience’. It was born out of an acknowledgement of the lack of representation of trans mascs in films, video art and moving image work in general. It highlights trans masc identity using films from the 1980s until 2021 including films that range from intimate conversations being recorded on a home video camera, to an experimental moving image, to pornography. The program was fascinating and the range of films allowed for a vast and complex representation of trans masc identities. As an audience member I felt very lucky to have seen the program because I honestly have no idea where I would have seen those films otherwise.
Token Homo is the host of ‘Bar Trash’ and co-host of ‘Queer Horror Night’, both of which screen extremely fun films. Bar Trash is dedicated to showing fantastically garish films in the upstairs bar of Genesis cinema. If you’re looking for an intimate screening with quizzes, give-aways and cocktails specifically created to match the theme of the film, this is the place to be. Bar Trash quickly became a staple of my week in the summertime and Token Homo’s zest for trashy film will keep you coming back for more every time. Subscribe to their newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything!
Another Gaze is a feminist film journal who recently launched their time-limited streaming platform ‘Another Screen’. Another Screen is a platform where you can watch and read about films made by a wide variety of women from different backgrounds for free, which is fantastic. The films are available for a short period of time and there is no limit on how many times you can watch them in that time frame. Another Screen being an online platform also means you can access wonderful films and information from the comfort of your own home which can make for a lovely change of pace from busy London. The films are strictly by women filmmakers from all over the world who use different methodologies which makes for a unique program every time. Their most recent was ‘Little Deaths’ which was comprised of two short films exploring queer scenes in Britain as well as interviews with the filmmakers.
BFI Flare is the British Film Institute’s (BFI) LGBT+ film festival which happens annually in March. This is a great festival to attend if you’re looking for queer cinema because due to the whole thing being about queerness, the program is incredibly varied. BFI Flare is also the longest and largest running queer film festival in the UK. Thanks to the BFI player, you can also watch the BFI Flare program online if you miss the in-person screenings.
Fringe! Queer Film and Arts Fest
Fringe! is a film and arts festival that runs for two weeks every year in East London. Fringe! put on screenings, workshops, parties, markets, walks and a multitude of other events. They are a fantastic organisation who curate a really fascinating program every year. If you fancy a really great night out or want to learn something new make sure you attend Fringe! festival next year. This festival has a great sense of community which is all the more reason to go. In the spirit of community, their tickets are low cost, pay what you can, or free. Fringe! also collaborates with various organisations throughout the year outside of when the festival is on so make sure you to keep an eye on them so you don’t miss anything!
London Short Film Festival
London Short Film Festival (or LSFF) is a short film festival that runs in January every year. As the name suggests it is a film festival for short films but it also offers a range of different events such as live music and parties. LSFF have a great range of queer film that they show which definitely shouldn’t be missed. The Otherness Archive’s trans masc program was part of last year’s LSFF program which was a great event.
The Rio Cinema
The Rio is an independent cinema based in East London. They show both mainstream and art-house films and are a frequent venue for film festivals such as Fringe!. The events that they host and program are definitely not ones to miss and I never feel disappointed when leaving this cinema. If you’re looking to continue your night you can always pop down the road to Dalston Superstore.
Genesis cinema, located in Whitechapel, is another hotspot for great queer cinema. It has 5 theatres plus a bar where screenings can also be held. Genesis is a great cinema which do a multitude of events including screenings, parties, poetry and quizzes. Events at this arthouse cinema are a guaranteed good time, there is something for everybody and you won’t be disappointed. There’s lots to do even if you’re not there to see something thanks to their café, bar and dog-friendly outside area, not to mention the delicious food and cocktails they serve.
The Cinema Museum
The Cinema Museum, located in Kennington, hosts a range of events in collaboration with queer film collectives such as The Vito Project and Lesflicks. If you’re looking for a quirky screening this is the place for you. As the name suggests they are a museum as well as a venue for screenings; their collection consists of cinematic artefacts, memorabilia and equipment ranging from the late 19th century to the present day. Overall this is a great place for anyone interested in cinema on any level as well as a place to see some queer film.