They are black, they are aboriginal and they are queer. They are the new Queens of the Desert. Six Aboriginal drag queens (one of which is pictured above) will open up the 12th Native Spirit Film Festival, as the Australian documentary Black Divaz kick-starts the event. The action takes place between October 11th and 21st in Bloomsbury (Central London).
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The event includes more than 50 films from all continents, more than half directed by Indigenous filmmakers. The event will also include a number of talks and debates. Artists and speakers include: Ingrid Pumayalla (Peru), Greta Morton Elangué (Indigenous Australian) and founder of the Festival of Indigenous Australian Cinema in Paris), Jules Koostachin (Cree, Canada), Red Haircrow (Chiricahua Apachean award-winning writer), Suming Rupi (Amis-Taiwanese singer and songwriter), Ado’ Kaliting Pacidal (Amis, Taiwan), Lin Guo-ting (Amis, Taiwan), Sara Kautolonga (Tonga), Peiman Zekavat (Director of Timbo) and Alex Browning (African Diaspora).
There will also be an exhibition held at The Crypt entitled Life Blood, featuring Cara Romero Photography in collaboration with Bloomsbury Festival’s theme Activists and Architects of Change.
Check out the most important highlights from the event below, and don’t forget to check out the full programme and book your ticket (many of the screenings are free) right here!
TOP FILM PICKS
Crystal Love takes to the stage, gargantuan in gown and appearance. Describing herself as a whale, Love refers to the audience as a bunch of “cunts”. It’s a hysterical moment in a series of moments which details the empowerment a Drag Queen Pageant can bring to a person. Love admits later of being reinvigorated, while Isla refers to the transformation as one which changes their attitude from being masculine to more girly more easily. Behind the costumes, flowing hair and choreography is the story of empowerment, invigoration and humanity, all told with the cheekiest of tongues.
Click here for our review of Black Divaz and here for the exclusive interview with the filmmaker Andrew Russell Wills (an Aboriginal LGBT man himself).
Politics and art mix in Burkinabè Rising, a deep dive into the way culture informs, comments upon and even provokes societal change. Looking at how Burkina Faso has changed since the popular uprising of 2014, it is a sprawling mosaic of a movie that seems to take in the whole country in its generous, inquisitive approach.
The key event is the 2014 ousting of Blaise Compaoré, considered by many to have led the country over the past 27 years in an undemocratic fashion. He took over from the pan-African revolutionary Thomas Sankara, who is widely considered to be Africa’s answer to Che Guevara (for one thing, he sells as many T-shirts in that region). More an African icon than a mere Burkinabé mortal, the spirit of Sankara is constantly evoked in this restless look at the country’s contemporary art and culture.
3. It’s Been a Long Time (Laha Mebow, 2017):
Two Taiwanese aboriginal musicians Suming and Baobu, are invited to New Caledonia, by the Director for a trip. During this voyage, they made friends with local Kanak musician, played music, lived together, and sometimes composed together. A film about language barriers and music´s ability to cross cultural differences.
4. Suming Carrying the Flag (Jau-Horne Sen, 2017):
Suming, a young Amis man from eastern Taiwan, is part of the first generation of Indigenous people forced to lose their native language. Singing in the Amis language, Suming has worked his way to the forefront of Taiwan’s popular music scene, while simultaneously leading the Indigenous (Amis) youth to rediscover their tribal identity and uniting his people behind the creation of Amis Music Festival.
5. 7th Generation (John L Voth, 2017):
The film is about Oglala Lakota tribal member Jim Warne’s efforts in helping Tribal Nations find a way to succeed in a contemporary American system and still remain Indian at heart.
After the Wounded Knee Massacre a Lakota medicine man named Black Elk had a prophecy, “It will take 7 generations to heal our sacred hoop.”
6. Yvy Maraey (Juan Carlos Valvidia, 2013):
A well-off metropolitan filmmaker hoping to retrace the trail of an early Swedish documentarian travels to the Bolivian highlands in search of savages. Once there, however, he finds his privileged cultural position met with ire more often than awe. Including allusions to documentary classics like Nanook of the North, Valdivia’s film moves beyond the plot itself to probe larger questions of memory, the politics of representation, and the power of cinema.
7. Forget Winnetou: Loving the Wrong Way (Red Haircrow, 2018):
It may be the only film of its kind, for we explore the roots of racism and colonialism, apathy and adoration in German society from Native perspectives and through their experiences. Germany is a microcosm of struggles taking place across the world both against and for decolonization, and the correction of systematic racism and white supremacy that’s still dividing and destroying our world.
8. PLACEenta (Jules Koostachin, 2017):
Jules sets out to find a place for her Cree Nation traditional placenta ceremony.