It was a big year for Fringe! last year, running 50 events and establishing itself as an exciting, eclectic and innovative film and arts festival rooted in London's queer creative scene. This year it has moved from April to November but the range and quality of the programming is just as strong. It truly is a multi-arts festival but the range of film on offer is so compelling and diverse, that's our focus.
The life and work of the late 'Grandfather of Gay Porn', Peter de Rom, who died aged 89 this year, opens the film festival. The documentary explores his 50 year career making groundbreaking gay sex films and shares some of his best, most inventive bits. Closing film Open Up To Me follows Maarit, a beautiful, intelligent, sexy trans woman, looking for love, reconciliation with her daughter and a sense of place in the world.
Docu-drama The Circle, set in 1950s Zurich, sees a shy teacher join gay organisation Der Kries and fall in love with its transvestite star. Experimental film Naomi Campbel follows a trans woman so desperate to undergo sex reassignment surgery she auditions for a reality TV show to win the plastic surgery of her choice, and Out In The Night documents the experiences of a group of African American lesbians over an evening in New York City's gay village. American Vagabond follows a homeless gay couple as they try to make a life together in San Francisco, Boy Meets Girl is a coming of age story involving three 20 year olds — boy, trans girl and girl — Something In-Between follows Nico over a four year journey of FTM transition and the real story behind Pacino film Dog Day Afternoon is uncovered in The Dog, the story of self-proclaimed "pervert" John Woitowicz.
At the camper end of cinema, east end performer Holestar presents a raucous sing-and-dance-along screening of the awful but ace Grease 2 at the Rio Cinema. Get your leathers on to be a Cool Rider, gen up on biology for Reproduction, seduce someone by telling them Let's Do It For Our Country, then definitely Score Tonight at the Sex Ed after-party at Dalston Superstore (sorry).
There's also a bounty of shorts to watch, exploring identity and sexuality, empowerment and helplessness, growing up different, romance and heartbreak, plus experimental shorts and Queer Sci-Fi.
Alongside the film are numerous art exhibitions, podcasts about "bottoming", discussions about sex, drugs, HIV, promiscuity and Riot Grrrls, workshops about family stories, theatre, yoga and spanking and parties and private views galore. Get involved.
Fringe! runs from 3-9 November at a number of participating venues across east London, including Hackney Picturehouse, Rio Cinema, Lime Wharf and Dalston Superstore. Tickets can be bought from the festival website. Many events are free.