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Enjoy six days of queer cinema and DIY parties at this fringe arts festival

By Nick Levine

The big, beautiful celebration of LGBTQ+ creativity Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest returns to east London today

Launched in 2011 as a ‘community response to arts cuts carnage’, Fringe! Queer Arts & Film Fest has blossomed into a vital platform and showcase for London’s LGBTQ+ creative scene. Taking place from November 12 to 17 at various east and north-east London venues, including the Rose Lipman Building, Hatch, Dalston Superstore and Genesis Cinema, this year’s programme is packed with rare films, panels, poetry, parties and workshops. If you like your queer culture colourful and inclusive, you’ll definitely want this one in your diary.

The fest opens with the UK premiere of ‘Wig’, a documentary about Wigstock, the legendary New York drag festival founded by RuPaul’s pal Lady Bunny. Other must-see docs include ‘Nothing to Lose’, a joyous celebration of fat queer bodies, ‘The Archivettes’ exploring Brooklyn’s Lesbian Herstory Archives, and ‘Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America’, a poignant portrait of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. ‘Top 3’, a queer rom-com from Sweden, is the life-affirming closing film.

Photograph: ’Top 3’

Then there are the stellar live events, like Speaking from the Diaphragm – A Vagternoon with Ms Vaginal Davis, in which the boundary-pushing queer performer will present short films, artwork and a lecture, the Bi and Mighty panel on bisexual visibility, Activism Speed Dating and Black Yogis, a space for queer people of colour to connect through yoga. Meanwhile, Madge fans can attend a screening of her iconic 1991 documentary ‘Truth or Dare’ aka ‘In Bed with Madonna’ and Extra Virgin: The Madonna Symposium, a panel discussing her relationship with the LGBTQ+ community as an ally, icon and arguably, appropriator.

For dancing, there’s Happy Endings: Fringe!, which is billed as a ‘multi-sexual musical orgy’ at Dalston Superstore, and ‘The Little Mermaid’: A Drag-a-Long. Given that the Disney classic’s villain, Ursula, was modelled on gay icon Mae West and game-changing drag queen Divine, this immersive screening hosted by east London queens feels like a playful act of queer reclamation. Long live Fringe!

Find more brilliant fringe events in London this week.

Can’t make this festival? Here’s where to find the best LGBTQ+ theatre shows in London right now. 

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