The festival kicks off on Monday with the GFEST visual arts exhibition, opening at the Mernier Gallery in Southwark. Named Beyond Margins, the exhibition will include work by eight artists exploring the theme of marginalised and ‘out and proud’ LGBTQI identities — with the general theme of 2016’s festival looking to examine the contrast between the two, as well as helping to ‘profile human rights issues and make a creative case for equality in all walks of life’. The exhibition will be followed by a free panel discussion titled ‘OUT (In The Margins)’ at the gallery, featuring artists Veronica Slater, Niranjan Kamatkar, and Simon Croft.
Another highlight of the festival includes a special cinematic event at Tottenham’s Bernie Grant Arts Centre on Sunday 13th November, which will focus on the experiences of African LGBTQI communities. The film portion of this year’s festival is organised around the theme ‘Crossing the Marginal’, with a line-up of feature-length and shorts screenings at Crouch End’s ArtHouse Cinema and Shoreditch’s Rich Mix, which will include new work by both emerging, fresh talent and established figures alongside some UK and London premieres. Highlights to look out for are Gender Troubles: The Butches by Lisa Plourde, which ‘gives a voice to women who may look and or act in ways that society has decided is appropriate only for men’, and The Pearl by Jessica Dimmock and Christopher LaMarca, which portrays the experiences of four middle-aged transgender women.
The festival is supported by Mayor Sadiq Khan, who described it as a ‘unique event in London’s cultural calendar’ which ‘showcases our diversity and highlights our reputation as one of the most LGBT friendly cities in the world’, while GFEST’s artistic director Niranjan Kamatkar stated: ‘In 2016, there is still a need for mainstream arts providers to sit up, take notice and provide platforms for excellent arts, films and performances that are created by LGBTQ communities across the UK. Some artists and some LGBTQI people still feel that aspects of their ‘Out and Proud’ identities can be seen as marginalised, and this contrast is explored in this year’s GFEST theme.’
GFEST will run from Monday 7th November – Saturday 19th November. Find more information here, or take a look at the showreel for the festival below.