The Book Club is a rather nice bar, selling tea and coffee as well as alcohol and tends to get busy in the evening. I never knew it had a downstairs until today. After walking around like a nob for a few minutes, I was pleased to note someone else looking equally as confused. I ended up following her down the stairs and finding the event. Whoever you were, thank you.
The room downstairs was rather odd. Deliberately rough, it was divided in two by a broken wall. This meant there were two projectors and two tightly packed groups. I chose the group at the front and took my seat. After an informative introduction by Emelia, one of the event organisers, the films began.
Todays films were courtesy of Dykeumentary, a fundraising event for Dyke March London. The Dyke March itself is happing on the 31st of March in Central London. Before that date there will be another fundraiser at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern with 4 bands and hopefully, a lot of anticipation.
The films themselves were all lesbian orientated. It is very rare you sit in a room and watch three movies about lesbians, in fact I think this was a first for me. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, particularly since all three were on hand-held cameras. I needn’t have worried as they turned out to be funny, heartbreaking and educational. I think sometimes we forget, or don’t know, how things used to be for lesbians in the world. These films were a good reminder.
The first was about a San Francisco Dyke March in 2002, filmed by a Chinese filmmaker by the name Shi tou. 20 minutes long, she managed to capture the joy of the day, the size of the march, the families, the supporters and most importantly, the amount of breasts on show. Yes, there were breasts everywhere at the Dyke March, in all shapes and sizes. Not that I disapprove, in fact it made me homesick for Pride Parades back in Australia.
The second film was 55 minutes long and all about the American Lesbian Avengers. I had heard of them, I hadn’t known how prevalent they were, nor how successful they were at achieving their aims. They were radical lesbian protestors who weren’t afraid to stand outside schools, storm hotels, carry their protest into office blocks and sing outside in the snow at 12am. They even told a hilarious tale of opening up a bank account in the name of The Lesbian Avengers.
I think one of the loveliest things for me in this film, was the portrayal of the avengers as normal, everyday women. Women who were afraid to walk into public buildings, who suffered from internal homophobia, who could laugh at the fearful reactions of others, and who quite enjoyed home crafts. It was a very powerful film.
The third film was one we never saw due to a technological issue, which was a pity as it sounded fantastic. ‘Women’ by Shi tou, was a documentary about the lives of women in China and a lesbian-heavy village in the province of Guizhou.
Instead we were all crammed into the front of the room to watch a 20 minute doco (We want to get married, 2006), also by Shi tou, about Chinese attitudes to gay marriage. Despite most people commenting that ‘It’s a private matter’, and ‘Marriage is a personal freedom’, that illusion of acceptance falls down when Shi tou asked one man how he would feel if it was his own son or daughter. ‘That would be impossible’, he said ‘As good parents have good influence’.
I’m very pleased I went and was even more pleased to hear the event raised £300 for Dyke March London.