Category Archives: Documentary

Pride and Protest

ARE YOU PROUD? by Ashley Joiner

Are You Proud? celebrates Pride, it explores the joys and division of the LGBTQ+ protest movement of then and now

Statement by Ashley Joiner:

A few years ago, when a partner’s mother, a LGBTQ+ activist, asked whether I would be attending Pride, I answered with a resounding “No”. I felt a total disconnect to what I perceived Pride to be. Her response was: “You don’t know your history!”. She was right – I didn’t. I had no knowledge of Section 28 and knew only of rumours and lies regarding the AIDS crisis. Exploring our history has helped me to understand why I grew up as an isolated young gay man filled with shame and fear. I knew I had to make this film in the effort to prevent anyone else feeling that way.  

Are You Proud? is an exploration of a community that has tirelessly campaigned for my existence; the lives and battles fought that aren’t discussed or taught in schools, of a community that I am a part of, and is a part of me. 

This is the film I needed to see when I was a child, and as a young gay man coming out. Making this film has emboldened me to continue the fight that so many have fought before me, and I hope that it encourages others to do the same.


Screenings

There will be Q&A screenings with Ashley Joiner and contributors around the UK from July. The first event is on 2nd July Genesis Cinema Mile End (in association with Fringe Film Fest) follow by 3rd July at Picturehouse Central.

Details https://www.peccapics.com/areyouproud (click on screening tab)

https://www.peccapics.com/product/areyouproud/
With Lady Phyll, Peter Tatchell , George Montague, Ted Brown, Lisa Power, Michael Cashman and more

Campbell X and THE WATERMELON WOMAN


THE WATERMELON WOMAN is a self-coined – Dunyementary – a fusion of fiction and documentary style filmmaking. In THE WATERMELON WOMAN, Cheryl Dunye uses  investigative documentary shooting on video intercut with a formal fiction comedy drama structure shot on film. Inserted within the narrative is archive footage constructed by Dunye.

THE WATERMELON WOMAN is edutainment. We laugh while being educated about the erasure of Black women in cinematic history in general, and also the invisibility of Black lesbian actresses in Hollywood history. As we watch the film we begin to question what is real and what is fiction? THE WATERMELON WOMAN is the Black actress Fae Richards who had disappeared, undocumented in the mist of time.

The title “THE WATERMELON WOMAN” is a play on the association between racist depictions of Black people eating watermelons, equivalent to the often racist caricatured images of Black women as the Mammy/Maid characters in Hollywood. The title is also an homage to Melvin Van Peebles’ 1970 film WATERMELON MAN. Melvin Van Peebles is credited with starting the Blaxploitation era of cinema which heralded a new vision of modern African American cinema.

As THE WATERMELON WOMAN begins we see video footage of a white Jewish wedding with Black guests. As Cheryl, who is a wedding videographer sets up the frame, a white male photographer comes and tells the contributors to move around to suit his frame while she is shooting. She is of course outraged and tells him to wait his turn. This first scene sets the tone for the ways in which Black women’s stories are denied, overwritten or erased in Hollywood.

Cheryl in the film decides to search for the real Fae Richards. As she does so she interviews various gatekeepers of culture, who are unapologetic in their ignorance about Fae RichardsLee Edwards, the Black gay man, played by Brian Freeman (Pomo Afro Homos – 1990–1995) is uninterested in anything to do with history of women in cinema, the CLIT archivist played by Sarah Schulman hoards Black womens’ archival assets and denies Cheryl access to the material, the cultural critic Camille Paglia played by herself, who while explaining the impact of the Mammy role, denies there is a racist element to them, and even posits the roles as empowering because she insists on viewing them through her own Italian American experience.

The complicity of white women in power structures is further reinforced when we learn that Fae Richards was in a lesbian relationship with a white film director Martha Paige who cast her in the Mammy roles.  Martha Paige did nothing to write and direct roles for Fae that were outside of the Mammy/Maid roles. She instead built her reputation as a film director off plantation type dramas. In fact it is often Martha Paige who is referenced in the history books and not Fae Richards. Martha Paige is played by Alex Juhasz, one of the producers of THE WATERMELON WOMANCheryl’s relationship with Diana played by Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, L Word, American Psycho, Notorious Bettie Page, Charlie Says)  falls apart when Cheryl has the dawning realisation about her liberal white racist values and her attempted appropriation of Cheryl’s project.

At the same time Cheryl interviews older Black lesbians who let her know how much they revered Fae Richards, even as Hollywood rejected her, and dumped her when she got older. She uncovers Fae Richards rich and joyous life as a Black lesbian who was survived by June, her lover of 20 years. June is played by the iconic poet and essayist – Cheryl Clarke.

THE WATERMELON WOMAN is a genius film which subverts dominant cinema with a Black lesbian feminist aesthetic through centring dark-skinned Black women as characters and actors. And by placing Black masculine of centre women of various ages as objects of desire and love interests.   Cheryl Dunye casts herself, a black lesbian woman, as the central character, a Black lesbian filmmaker called Cheryl in order to obtain authenticity in the role, as well as intrinsically preventing any erasure of Black lesbian desire or bodies.

THE WATERMELON WOMAN is a love letter to cinema – African American cinema in Philadelphia in particular, we learn about those film companies that existed in the 1930s and see the cinemas where African Americans watched the silver screen. THE WATERMELON WOMAN while exploring the invisibility of Black lesbian women in cinema, also creates its own queer archive. There are references to other queer works of art, the documentary elements allow for the use of actual LGBT people, Dunye uses music of Black lesbians like Toshi Reagon and if you check the credits you will see interns like Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, The L Word, Carrie ).

THE WATERMELON WOMAN tells us to speak to our queer elders and hear their stories in order to document histories/herstories/theirstories so we so we know they were there.

Campbell X

From Goddess to Satanist – Making Mansfield 66/67

We talked to MANSFIELD 66/67 directors P.David Ebersole and Todd Hughes about their devilish documentary which spotlights the mysterious final years of Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield.

Jayne Mansfield and Anton LaVey

Jayne Mansfield and Anton LaVey

Jayne’s uneasy intersection with that moment of American history meshed perfectly with our common interests in people who live as outsiders, especially those who experience a questioning of faith and how that expands an acceptance of mans’ multiplicitous nature, be it expressed in sexually adventurous behaviour or non-traditional paths in life. All very heady thoughts when you are talking about an alleged affair between a woman known best for having the body measurements of 40-21-35 and a man who liked to wear plastic devil horns and a red cape to impress girls!

Together, for close to twenty years now, we have researched and collected Jayne and Anton literature and artifacts trying to piece together this mysterious story as a narrative feature script. But we found ourselves not very interested in the “simple” idea of making an exposé where we were might try to dig past the rumours and legends to expose the absolute truth, but rather found ourselves fascinated by creating a celebration of the storytellings and spectacles which have ingrained themselves into the lore and accepted truths of Hollywood Babylon. For instance, although it has been disproven many times, many people today still insist that Jayne Mansfield was decapitated, preferring to hold on to the gory hearsay in lieu of accepting the reported facts. Why? What is more interesting about that which may not be true but lives on in the collective unconscious?

 

Mansfield 66/67 Documentary

Mansfield 66/67 Documentary

First, we set out to interview subjects with not just first hand experience of either Jayne or Anton, but hopefully people who might hold deeper thoughts about either or both of them and/or their alleged relationship with each other. We reached out to find contemporaries who may or may not have been their colleagues, artists who expressed being influenced by one or the other, theorists and feminists who might have a take on it all, film scholars who could put their careers into context with each other, experts in Hollywood gossip — essentially a melting pot of people who could only comment on what they heard rather than who could, say, confirm the veracity of the stories being told.

On an artistic level, we felt that telling this as a “true story based on rumour and hearsay” required that we created our supporting material in the same vein. This is what inspired us to use what we call emotional dance numbers and experimental film and performance sketches to ruminate and try to understand the extraordinary circumstances which lead up to Jayne’s tragic death.

Directors P.David Ebersole and Todd Hughes at a Q&A screening of Mansfield 66/67.

Directors P.David Ebersole and Todd Hughes at a Q&A screening of Mansfield 66/67.

MANSFIELD 66/67 is available on DVD and On-Demand from the 25th June.  Read more here.

Our Top 10 Bestselling DVDs of 2016 & Interview with Tom

What a dramatic year 2016 was for films,  dramatic in other  ways too, but we’re going to focus on the films. To get an industry insider’s perspective we’re bringing you an exclusive interview with our MD Tom Abell to get his take on a wonderful year of films and the changes affecting our industry.

But first; to celebrate a bumper year at Peccadillo Pictures we’re taking you on a tour of our top 10 bestselling DVDs of the year. We searched the world to bring you the most thought-provoking, entertaining and captivating films possible. Whether they were hidden gems like GIRLS LOST or global behemoths like EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, each DVD is etched with our passion, love and care. Enjoy.

Peccadillo Top Ten DVDs of 2016

10 THEO & HUGO

The steamy French romance that was ‘too sexy’ for most cinemas, careened into tenth place despite being one of our last releases of the
year.

09 CLOSET MONSTER

A beautiful 21st century “coming of age” tale complete with teenage angst, a thumping electronica score and an Isabella Rossellini-voiced Hamster.

08 The GIRL KING

Our captivating drama based on the scandalous life of Queen Kristina of Sweden, and her “royal bed-warmer” Countess Ebba Sparre.

07 CHEMSEX

A brave and unflinching journey into the hidden world of modern, urban gay life. Told through the eyes of ‘slammers’, survivors and the health workers fighting to protect them.

06 BOYS ON FILM 14: WORLDS COLLIDE

Once again the powerhouse that is Boys on Film has been a top seller this year, worlds collide in more ways than one in this stunning collection of award winning short films.

05 BOYS ON FILM 15: TIME & TIED

A sensation as always, the latest Boys on Film collection is our hottest to date. Between a time traveling closet, a 1976 trouser bar and a “zombie infested” sauna, it will have you re-examining your concept of time, age and the ties that bind us.

04 HOLDING THE MAN

The powerful true life story of a forbidden high school romance that was to last a lifetime. Holding the Man will have your heart plunging and soaring. Australian gay cinema has never been so strong.

03 DEPARTURE

An intimate film about love, loss and moving on that charts the beginning of the end of a mother’s marriage, the coming of age of her sexually confused son and an awakening that will make or break their new, unfamiliar family. Juliet Stevenson soars in this beautiful British drama set against the stunning backdrop of southern France.

02 THE GERMAN DOCTOR

A lonely 12-year-old girl unknowingly becomes friends with one of the world’s most terrifying Nazi war criminals in this dark, intense thriller. Based on true events, THE GERMAN DOCTOR will have your skin crawling and heart pumping all the way up to it’s dramatic, final minutes. This “Mesmerising and haunting” Argentinian film was a huge success across the board, particularly in stores.

01 EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT

Karamakate, a warrior shaman and last of his tribe, transcends the worlds of men and seeks truth through their dreams. Based on the diaries of Theodor Koch Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes, the only known accounts of many Amazonian cultures, this extraordinary “Oscar nominated” film was destined for our top spot.

 

So, which ones have you seen? Which titles do you need to see? Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

 

We’re immensely proud of our top 10, and the contribution Peccadillo Pictures has brought to the film world. Our Managing Director Tom Abell, he’s been in the business a “long time” and knows it inside out. Tom’s taken some time out of his very busy schedule to give us a quick interview about the past year at Peccadillo Pictures, the changing face of Film Distribution and our biggest hit of 2016.

 

Did you have any idea how successful EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT was going to be?

 

TOM: We thought it was going to be successful, we knew that it would do well but no, its actual success was far greater than we expected. It was a wonderful surprise that the audience in the UK and Ireland took to the film as passionately as we had.

 

You’re passionate about finding new ways of getting films out there, what has been your most exciting distribution project?

 

TOM: Well, our most amazing campaign was for cinema release of EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT – most definitely. Every aspect of our promotion and marketing of the film worked perfectly in every single area. I can honestly say that in hindsight there isn’t one single thing that we would change, and it’s not often you can say that.

 

I think it’s the best campaigns we’ve ever done and we won the Screen Award specifically for that campaign. Getting that recognition from the industry itself was one of the highlights of last year.

 

Are there any films that you think were unsung heroes of 2016?

 

TOM: GIRLS LOST. It’s a very special film with lots of important social and sexual commentary, but at no point is it overbearing or preachy. Every country in the world has had problems marketing it, because it’s difficult to define a single audience for it – do you target a gay audience, a lesbian or trans audience or do you market it as a Disney film with a dark side?

 

It took us a long time, but I do think we got the tone spot on. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet translated into sales, despite great acclaim from critics like Mark Kermode. It’s a little gem that many people still have to discover.

 

Peccadillo Pictures will be seventeen years old this year, how has the industry changed in that time and what have been the most dramatic shifts?

 

TOM: It’s changed enormously, the biggest change has been the move from 35mm to digital for projection in cinemas, and whilst it was supposed to make things more diverse it’s done the opposite. It’s made it much harder for smaller films to get into cinemas and now allows most of the cinemas to play the same films, which is not just pointless its tragic.

 

Obviously some screens do offer a more diverse selection of films and we applaud those cinemas who are still supporting non-Hollywood films.

 

How has VOD (Video On Demand) changed the way you distribute home entertainment?

 

TOM: While our VOD side is growing considerably year on year, it hasn’t yet replaced the revenue we were getting from DVDs. While we’re maybe not making as much money from it as we were in the good old days of DVD It is growing well and I’m quite confident that our success with VOD will continue to grow. For example we’re one of a handful of film distribution companies who have their own own page on iTunes, we have our own Peccadillo Player which is powered by Vimeo and every quarter our VOD sales on Amazon are increasing considerably, so the VOD side is really moving upwards for us.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, you can also keep up with the incredible adventures of the winking black cat on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Check back regularly for exciting new updates, exclusive content and information on our upcoming films before anyone else.

POUTfest 2016 Is Here!

Next week is going to be an exciting and busy time for the Peccadillo team. We will be celebrating the launch of POUT Fest 2016 with Holding the Man at Picturehouse Central on May 18th so come on down and join us for some excitement.

Following on from the fantastic success of POUT 2015, we are bringing you all an opportunity to experience another POUT with all new titles and events ready to take up your calendar.  POUT Fest 2016 aims to promote LGBT cinema with a variety of short films and feature length films that can inspire, move and emancipate the audience. To know more, read on at your leisure.

Departure1 TGK

Holding the Man perfectly encapsulates what POUT Fest 2016 aims to achieve; it’s daring, entertaining, touching and makes one proud to be who they are. POUT Fest 2016 will also see the launch of The Girl King, a historical film that covers the reign of the first native, female sovereign of Sweden as she is thrust into an all-male court that has no tolerance for her awakening sexuality. Enchanting visuals and intrigue map the film throughout. Girls Lost is another fantastic addition to the line-up. The hypnotic film follows three girls who discover a curious plant that has a rare magical ability; transforming the three girls into boys. As their genders change, so does the world around them leaving their responses to this change profound. We are also honoured to be showing the classic film, My Beautiful Laundrette, starring Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis and Gordon Warnecke. The film is a classic example of identity and inexorable love. For some laughter and fun we also have the cult film Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same gracing the POUT screens with its witty and humorous tale of romantic emotions. For all you documentary lovers we have the privilege of showing Limited Partnership, which tells the inspiring story of the first same-sex couple in the world to be legally married; taking on the US government in court to prove the legitimacy of their affection for one another.

GIRLS CLOSET

On May 20th Peccadillo will also be celebrating the release of Departure, a British drama starring the talents of Juliet Stevenson (Bend it like Beckham and Truly, Madly, Deeply) and Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game). The stunning debut from Andrew Steggall confronts the issues of family, first love and the dawning of one’s sexuality. With impressive visuals and an incredible cast, this is one film that will arouse the senses of the audience and anyone who has dealt with the issues presented. Get on down to the cinema to show your support for this years’ most incredible debut!

For more on POUT visit poutfest.co.uk

Drug Slang A-Z

In these winter months, especially in the colder parts of the world, you might be delighted to hear people talking about the sleigh ride they went on over the weekend. That is until you realise they are talking about their cocaine high.

Since drug use is illegal in most countries around the world, the language and terminology surrounding controlled substances constantly changes in an attempt to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. For example, gammahydroxybutrate is a drug growing in popularity, it is now known simply as G or Geebs.

Drug use is an issue that especially affects the LGBT+ community. In a portrayal of a subsection of gay society, ChemSex is a poignant exposé of the rapid change coming from the intersection of technology and desire.

Here is our list of Drug Slang:

Amani – Magic Mushrooms

Bounce – Mephedrone (Meph)

ChemSex –  the use of three specific drugs or ‘Chems’ (meth, meph & G) in a sexual context.

Dimitri – Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)

Drug a to z 2

 

Exodus – Piperazines

Flash – LSD

Glass – Methamphetamine (Meth)

Hog – PCP

Ivory Wave – 2-DPMP

Jellies – Tranquilisers

Kix – Poppers

Lucy – LSD

Mandy – Ecstasy

Nemesis – Piperazines (Pep)

Opiate – Generally Morphine

CHEMSEX_FULL_LENGTH_ONLINE_11_03_15.01_01_12_15.Still026

Percy – Cocaine

Qat – Khat

Rocks – Cocaine

Skag – Heroin

Tina / Christine – Methamphetamine

Ultram – Tramadol

Vitamin K – Ketamine

Wash – Cocaine

X – Synthetic Cannabinoids

Yaba – Methamphetamine

Zoly – Etizola

To learn more – there is a monthly communication forum “Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs” for anyone to come talk about how they perceive sex and drug use amongst the modern gay male community in London. It is a wonderful resource to continue the discussion. Here is a link to there Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/1PdIHYx.

The Godmother of Sydney Mardi Gras

Interview with Filmmaker Fiona Cunningham-Reid. 

We sat down with documentary filmmaker Fiona Cunningham-Reid and discussed the legend of Dawn O’Donnell – Gangster, Goddess or Godmother?

 

Why did you feel it was important to tell the story of Dawn O’Donnell?

From the first time I met Dawn when filming the Mardi Gras for Channel 4 and ABC back in 1991, I was intrigued and appalled in equal measure. She was a controversial woman full of contradictions, loved and hated in equal measure. She was first and foremost a businesswoman and if there was a dollar to be turned she’d do it, and always on her own terms. But was she a gangster? Certainly, rumours swirled around her and some people wouldn’t talk on camera claiming they might be found at the bottom of Sydney Harbour with cement boots.

She was living her own legend. Equally, as so often happens with women, she was being marginalised and even left out of Sydney’s LGBT historical narratives (mostly written by men). Every bar, club, drag-show, sauna, sex-shop and even car-park – she ran them. Dawn started her empire when women were third class citizens and couldn’t even have their own bank account, yet there she was, wheeling and dealing with police, criminals and drag-queens. There was no way I wasn’t going to tell her story – and as for her astonishing physical transformation, she was irresistible – from koala-hugging baby, a rebellious convent girl, then a femme ice-skater to finally morphing into Uncle Jack, a silver-cropped butch dyke.

dawn2 dawn3

The way Sydney’s Mardi-Gras is presented in the film makes it look amazing. How integral was Dawn to the festival, and is it still like this?

Initially, Dawn had zero interest in gay law reform or politics; legal or not she wasn’t bothered, everyone still wanted somewhere to drink and her pubs made money, a lot of money. On the night of the first ever Mardi Gras, which was Sydney’s response to the Stonewall riots in New York, it was pouring with rain and the police were very violent breaking up the peaceful demo and many were arrested.  Dawn, sitting in the safety of one of her pubs, said “that’ll never work, that won’t catch on…” I don’t like sounding like an oldie, but I am and I think Mardi Gras, even though it’s now huge with hundreds of thousands of people involved, is far too corporate and silly, but undoubtedly it has the best parties in the world!

dawngoddess dawngoddess2

And finally, did Dawn ever come to Soho? What do you think she’d make of it, then and now?

Dawn’s first trip to London was when she was a professional ice-skater in the early 1950’s. The only place she discovered and was interested in on that trip was the Gateways Club, Kings road in Chelsea. It’s where she came out. Soho wasn’t on her radar – not then. She and Aniek traveled extensively and always checked out the gay life – and imported ideas back to Sydney – she and Aniek installed the fist ever disco lit floor in Sydney, John Travolta style! One of her biggest scams was buying a porn movie abroad and then getting a bloke back in Sydney to copy it and then sell them in her sex shops, so I’m sure she did visit Soho again to buy a few titles! What would she make of Soho now?  Dawn would say “That was a bombed out plot when I was here, knew I should have bought it, put a car-park on it – no overheads with them, and then just let it run itself and I could sell that now for how many million? – never mind”.