This Is Not A Dream is playing at the BFI 26th London Lesbian & Gay film Festival on March 26 and 27. Its interview subjects include Glenn O’Brien (TV Party), Vaginal Davis (Fertile LaToyah Jackson Magazine), Kalup Linzy, and UK artists Scottee, Dickie Beau, David Hoyle, Alp Haydar and Holestar. Ben Walters, one the film’s directors, writes in this exclusive article for Polari Magazine, what this fascinating documentary is about, and why it was made.
Back in the day, the equipment required to produce a film was of a similar order to what you’d need to make a car, or mount a small war. Then came smaller cine formats that opened the door to home movie-making but were still relatively fiddly and expensive. Then came video, which really shook things up; then digital, which turned them upside down. Today, anyone with a smart phone has in their pocket facilities that would once have filled a sound stage and an editing suite.
Ever since video arrived at the end of the ’70s, a strain of queer and alternative artists and performers has been interested in using the camera – the dominant disseminator of mainstream culture – for subversive ends. Some wanted to talk back to the mainstream and use its own modes and images against it; others tried to use the moving image to reach fellow freaks who might be separated from like-minded types by time or space; and others exploited the camera’s ability to create fantasy worlds in which they could explore desires and anxieties they struggled to express in everyday life.
This secret history of outrageous experiments is unpacked in This Is Not a Dream, the documentary I made with Dickie Beau, Gavin Butt and Tom Frederic, playing at the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on March 26 and 27 2012. We spoke to a dozen artists and performers (including Polari interviewee Alp Haydar) who have collectively turned Wonder Woman inside out, danced with glittery magic penises, trashed The X-Factor and got to the bottom of streetwalker fashions. Alongside the documentary, Dickie Beau performs three achingly beautiful new pieces of work live in the auditorium, developed specifically to complement the film.
And the best part is that, like our interviewees, we did it from scratch. None of us had any experience making a film like this – we just thought it was worthwhile so we picked up a camera. Come and see This Is Not a Dream and you might just be inspired to do the same.