five must see queer films at this year's sheffield doc/fest

The documentary film festival serves up a host of LGBT realness this weekend.

by Colin Crummy
10 June 2016, 2:25pm


This weekend sees the start of Sheffield's Doc/Fest, the premier documentary film festival in the UK. Now in its 23rd year, the festival has in 2016 reintroduced a queer strand to its line up. Queer Screen includes Strike a Pose, a documentary about Madonna's Blond Ambition tour's dancers 25 years on, and Kiki, which hangs out with the new kids on the block in the New York voguing ballroom scene. But LGBT themes run across many other strands of the festival, from its Instigators & Agitators section to an Outdoor Adventure sporting selection and into an extensive dance documentary programme which features throughout the festival. In keeping with that dancing spirit, there's a special Vogue, Strike a Prose Party! On Saturday night (11 Jun) at the O2 Academy, where serving up realness will be on the agenda. Below, we chose five of the best slices of LGBT real life films from the festival to catch.

1. Back on Board: Greg Louganis
The Tom Daley of his day, American diver Greg Louganis won gold at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, feats that were marred by subsequent events. At the 1988 Games in Seoul, he struck his head on the springboard and suffered concussion. At the time, Greg was HIV positive, a status which when he made public in 1995 caused hysteria over the health risk he could have caused other athletes in the pool (even though blood in a pool caused no risk). This HBO documentary follows the U.S. icon in retirement, where he is nearly destitute but returning to mentor the Olympic team.
Sun 12 Jun 12.30.

2. Kiki
Paris Is Burning gets a millennial update as director Sara Jordeno gains access to New York's Kiki community, a subset of the city's voguing ballroom scene, guided by one of its leading lights Twiggy Pucci Garcon. What emerges from the scene is a burgeoning youth movement which is advocating for itself in the midst of trans and homophobia, issues of homelessness, HIV and AIDS, and police brutality. There is dancing in Kiki, but mostly there are striking stories of individual LGBT youth lives lived on the margins, brought together in one collective movement for change. Sat 11 Jun 18:15, Tues 14 Jun 14:45.

3. Out Run
"Make politics fierce" runs the tagline for Johnny Symons and S. Leo Chiang's film about three Filipino transgender women fighting to win seats for LGBT candidates in their homeland. Fierce, however might not be enough to cut it in a political arena, where they are not taken seriously. Against adversity, the LGBT activists of their party LADLAD decide to travel their country in a bid to win seats and tackle trans and homophobia. Sun 12 June 17:45.

4. Strike a Pose
The back-up dancer takes centre stage in this catch-up documentary with the guys who toured with Madonna on her Blond Ambition tour 25 years ago. Back then, six out of seven of the dancers were gay, and the tour documentary of the time Truth or Dare (In Bed with Madonna, to the Brits) ended up as much an affirmation of queer youth, with an eye wateringly instructive as to how to give head, Madonna style (the demonstration involves a bottle of Perrier water). All these years on, Strike a Pose strikes a different note, showing that for all the empowerment messages of the original film, its ideals were challenging for the six gay men to implement in their own lives off camera. Fri 10 Jun 19.30, Sun 12 Jun 20:30.

5. Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Deborah S. Esquenazi's film follows the extraordinary story of the San Antonio Four, who were accused, tried and found guilty of sexual assault of two young girls in Texas, 1994. Twenty years on, the four women - who were openly lesbian at the time - continue to protest their innocence to accusations borne out of homophobic prejudice and a 90s panic about child abuse. Sun 12 Jun 21:00.

Doc/Fest runs from today Friday 10 Jun to Wednesday 15 Jun.


Text Colin Crummy

queer film
Sheffield Doc/Fest