On Friday night there was an effervescent atmosphere at the BFI as the masses gathered to catch a glimpse of a work-in-progress screening of ‘Rebel Dykes’, a documentary capturing the movement of political, queer women in London in the 1980s, long before Riot Grrls and Queer Activists were on the scene.
Siobhan Fahay, the producer and instigator of this project, spoke passionately about the film and her fear of these stories becoming lost – she’s not wrong, I’m 29 and I already feel it’s difficult to grasp this history (despite wanting to) and learnt a lot from watching the extracts; I’m now excitedly awaiting the full length film.
It’s been a lengthy process for the team, as they have spent a lot of time gathering footage, material and accounts, but also have to ensure that all people featured in the film are happy to be so – as they mentioned in the panel discussion, there is still stigma attached to identifying as a Rebel Dyke. Directors Harri Shanahan and Sian Williams have been working to create animation to fill in the gaps in the real footage, which they claim are basic, but don’t seem it and add a certain cheekiness to the movie.
The extracts we were shown covered accounts of Greenham Common, The Bell (a lesbian pub), Chain Reaction (Lesbian SM Night club) – in particular the time it was smashed up, while the staff were inside, by balaclava clad radical feminists, ironically fighting for an end to violence against women. There’s a whole range of brilliant people speaking on the film, including Fisch and Debbie Smith who both spoke on the panel yesterday evening. The discussion was fast paced and certainly got heated at times, but was thrilling to listen to – I could listen to the stories they tell of that time for ages.
This is a film which I suspect will be of interest to a far wider audience that just that of the Rebel Dykes, it’s a film for the politically engaged, the queer, those that remember that era and those like me that don’t, but are keen to know more. It’s a fascinating history and one well worth delving in to.
There’s no release date as of yet, they still need some support to reach the finish line, if you can offer this in terms of footage / music / material, or financial support do get in touch with them. They’re saying possibly September for the full feature, so keep your eyes peeled.
Watch a trailer here
Follow them on Facebook and get in touch here
© Amie Taylor (@AmieAmieTay) 2016