Hosted by Glasgow based Pity Party Film Club, the choice of venue for their screening of Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution certainly had an impact. The basement of grungy Nice and Sleazy’s sets the tone, mimicking the DIY importance of the film. Following a previously sold out screening, it is clear to see why this event is sold out again as it is a hidden gem of a documentary, highlighting the influence of the queer community in the arts scene.
Released in 2017, this quirky documentary by Yony Leyser takes us on trip back to the 80s to the origin of the influential genre that is queercore. Although slightly slow paced at the beginning whilst it maps out the history, we find out that the genre was brought to light through the famous zine J.Ds – pioneered by filmmakers and activists G.B Jones and Bruce LaBruce. Reacting to the punk phenomenon, the small collective created a monumental scene that spread from their home of Toronto to Chicago, San Francisco, Edinburgh and London. It is the liberation from this movement that makes it so successful, with followers not only creating their own zines and movies, but also their own music.
The film tells the stories of the bands who revolutionised the genre, from Pansy Division to Tribe 8; bands who sung about their sexuality in a widespread manner. It was a reaction to gay assimilation – with the artists making the type of music they wanted to listen to without following the stereotype of ‘loving disco’. The documentary comprises of interviews from these influencers, with their points being visually illustrated by clips from films, zines and live concerts from the time. It also mentions how the feminist riot grrrl movement branched out from queercore, with an interview from Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill displaying the links between both genres – that activism plays a strong role in the music created. It also features modern advocates of the genre – with Beth Ditto from The Gossip, and Peaches.
Queercore originated as a DIY project that blossomed into a movement of its own. Similarly, Leyser’s documentary has that same DIY feel encompassing it. It is an inspirational documentary that awakens it audience; pushing the importance of activism and art. It cleverly demonstrates the importance of sexuality and being free to use that in creative means, leaving the audience feeling energised and enlightened.
[Katie McPeake – @katesiuol]