Film Review of Southern Pride at BFI Flare

Southern Pride is a follow up documentary to Small Town Gay Bar in 2006 by Malcolm Ingram.
 
This documentary opens with the inauguration of Trump and also a spate of trans murders in the State of Mississippi over 3 months, and follows 2 very different LGBT venues during this somewhat turbulent time. What I really found interesting was that both spaces were run by women.
 
In Biloxi on the Gulf Coast we meet Lynn Koval who has been running Just Us since 1996. Throughout the documentary she is setting up Southern Pride - the first pride in Mississippi.
 
One particular thing she said really resonated with me, and perhaps explains what is missing from our venues in London...
"If you open a bar you need to know there is a need behind a bar. If you don't serve that need you miss the mark".
 
On that note, Just Us is more than a bar. It helped to clear up after Katrina, and is open 24/7. They have only closed twice, both times due to hurricanes. Just Us is a key part of the community and people talk fondly of it.
 
The documentary also showcases Xperience, which is a gay club in Hattiesburg. Whilst its owner says it isn't an exclusively black club, the customers are all black and it highlights the racial divide in the US. Xperience is working on its first pride event too, called Unapologetically Black Pride.
 
Ironically both bar owners share very similar views on community, and the documentary does a good job of showing this.
 
I was really torn by this documentary, because on one hand it really highlights the community creating spaces, working on bringing people together, and how strong it can be and how spaces are important.
 
On the other hand a key meeting to discuss the first pride had barely 6 people, and when it came to fundraisers attendance was disappointing to say the least and no money is raised. This absolutely resonated with me. 
 
During the filming HB50.23 came into force allowing businesses to deny services to LGBT people on the basis of religion and it was saddening to see the reaction of this; but it also spurred on the Southern Pride and gave renewed vigour.
 
This documentary highlighted the disorganisation that can exist in our community, the inability to work together across social groups for a greater purpose; however as always in the end an event is pulled off - but it left me thinking how much bigger and better it could have been with collaboration.
 
This documentary seems like it was started and created to highlight Just Us in Biloxi, and then as the black pride event was announced Xperience was included. This does mean you feel like the documentary doesn't give equal exposure to both scenes - particularly as the black pride event is shown after the end title. A little disappointing.
 
This documentary shows the importance of pride in the community, and how it brings out young people who can't or don't access LGBT bars. How it brings community together. Both of these pride events are successful because of the community. This documentary doesn't shy away from racial, political and sexual issues - although the it doesn't really hit them head on either.

Southern Pride - Xperience bar owner and girlfriend 

THE FULL FESTIVAL PROGRAMME

The full 2018 BFI Flare programme is available here, but highlights of additional activities to the film screenings include:(link is external)

  • Talks with established film and television professionals who are leading the way in LGBTQ+ representation on screen.
  • Workshops and Labs focusing on creating LGBTQ+ media with specific sessions around challenges in development, funding and exhibition.
  • Networking opportunities throughout the Festival with a range of receptions with film and television professionals included in the Delegate Package. 

BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival 2018About BFI Flare

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, formerly known as the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, is the biggest LGBT film festival in Europe. It takes place every spring in London, England

www.bfi.org.uk/flare