This inaugural year of the London Fetish Film Festival seeks to push boundaries with an international programme of artists and filmmakers, says its curator, international fetish performer and BDSM film supporter Venus Raven (MA Directing).
Designed for lifestyle fetishists and enthusiasts, for the curious and for the open minded, the festival aims to “bring together a community of individuals who believe in protecting freedom of expression” while “addressing the UK’s censorship laws against porn”. she says.
The 18-plus event takes place at The Hen & Chickens Theatre, Highbury Corner, over four evenings from Thursday June 13 to Sunday June 16. The full venue address is: 109 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2NA.
VENUS RAVEN: ‘Sleep is overrated anyway’
How did you, specifically, come to be organising this event now?
VR: I was invited to do a film festival of my choice by James Wren, artistic director of Unrestricted View, director of Unrestricted View Film Festival and Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival, and owner of The Hen & Chickens Theatre (together with L.-based Felicity Wren).
Being a fetishist myself, it didn’t take me long to come up with the theme and to my surprise there was no other London film festival that focused purely on fetish.
Fetish is something that is an integral part of me, and is rooted in freedom of sexual expression, which is being jeopardised to a frightening (but essentially deeply fearful) extent.
It was utterly important to me to take a stand against this culture of sexual censorship we’re living in and London Fetish Film Festival is perfect for that mission.
Is it literally a one-person venture or are you heading a team we should know more about?
VR: It started as a one-woman venture, but in the process I have been blessed with having the most brilliant team around me helping with aspects I couldn’t have possibly managed alone.
On board with me are Winter James and Victoria Gugenheim (festival producer and operations manager respectively), Maud Madlyn, Nora Mehheni, Master Peter, Hal Sinden, Lidia Ravviso (the Festival’s judging panel), Aizen Kaguya (film consultant), Chris Tyler (promotional visuals), and Simon Ricardo (music composer for our trailer).
And we are now proud partners with Uncensored Festival and London Fetish Weekend.
What has the timescale been for this first event, from inception to realisation?
VR: Inception was over a year now, but the project was put aside until this March. The realisation took less than two months – a phenomenal (and if you ask me, insane) amount of time. It surely goes to demonstrate what one can pull off if one works on something that one is deeply passionate about. Sleep is overrated anyway.
My team and I will be planning the 2020 straight after this year’s festival is over, so expect a plethora of films and performances and hopefully expanding into more venues. First birth is always the hardest!
How did you go about sourcing and selecting festival content? How many submissions did you choose the final programme from, and how many filmmakers are represented in it?
VR: After an initial hurdle with FilmFreeway that unfortunately did not accept the festival’s listing as public, I resorted to reaching out to every person I could think of and whose work and insights I respected and asked them whether they have submissions or recommendations for me.
From the initial scare that I would end up with no films, to having received over 100 submissions (and having watched thousands of films while hunting for visual and content gold), it has been a most intense journey.
And we are thrilled to be now presenting more than 50 films from over 30 filmmakers from across the world, including Bafta award winner executive producers Martyn Chalk and Gillian Mosely.
What trophies will your seven award winners be receiving, and how were the awards and the whole project funded?
VR: The winners will each receive a custom-made award prize. We were grateful to have received some funding through a campaign we are running, but apart from that amount, the whole festival has been self-funded with no sponsors.
We’d love to change that for our 2020 comeback. So ethical kinksters and kinky companies, do get in touch!
INSIDE ROPE: Guillaume Pin’s Vagabondages is one of London Fetish Film Festival’s Thursday shorts
8pm: SHORTS 1: INSIDE ROPE SPECIAL £10
Augentier by Rainer Stolle (UK, 3:08)
Eros by Kiril Bikov (German, 10:00)
The Kiss by James Copeman (1:52)
Black Ropes by Jessica Rispal (France, 3:40)
Misungui Self Shibari by Jessica Rispal (France, 4:11)
Vagabondages by Guillaume Pin (Belgium, 7:46)
9pm: EX-DOMINATRIX £10
British feature-length documentary about the rise, fall and rebirth of a legendary Antwerp dominatrix (1:30).
EX-DOMINATRIX feature DVD box art (Thursday)
Followed by Q&A with Darren Cavanagh (director, producer, writer, editor); Noko (score performer, composer and recordist); Denzil Kennedy (ex-slave and friend of Ira, the film’s subject); and Danielle Frenchie (co-producer of the film).
7pm: AMAURY GRISEL DOCUMENTARIES & FARRUKH HYDER SPECIAL £8
In Trouble With Cathy (Interview) by Amaury Grisel (France, 24:20)
In Trouble With Cathy/Sewing Game by Amaury Grisel (France, 22:30)
FARRUKH HYDER’s La Padrona Di Casa (Friday)
Dirty Loving by Farrukh Hyder (UK, 1:34)
Educazione Alimentare by Farrukh Hyder (UK, 1:45)
Les Soeurs Et Les Pêcheurs by Farrukh Hyder (UK, 4:00)
La Padrona Di Casa by Farrukh Hyder (UK, 2:42)
Followed by conversation with Syn Ariad, Brussels dominatrix appearing in Les Soeurs Et Les Pêcheurs
9pm: SHORTS 2 & MARC BLACKIE SPECIAL £10
Al Signore Lorenzo by Thomas Eikrem (Norway/UK, 2:33)
Robot Rubber by Thomas Eikrem (Norway/UK, 1:26)
The John by Dominic Hicks (UK, 8:14)
Followed by Q A with director Dominic Hicks
MARC BLACKIE’s Fucking Doesn’t Help (Friday)
MARC BLACKIE SPECIAL
Adoration by Marc Blackie (UK, 2:40)
Fantasy Reconstructed by Marc Blackie (UK, 7:34)
First Person Plural by Marc Blackie (UK, 5:48)
Fucking Doesn’t Help by Marc Blackie (UK, 8:25)
Performance And Appreciation by Marc Blackie (UK, 6:31)
The Terminal Position by Marc Blackie (UK, 11:21)
Followed by Q&A with Marc Blackie
8pm: PERFORMANCES tba £10
9pm: SHORTS 3 £10
Your Body Is Not A Temple by Bonnie Baker, Bonnie Bakeneko & Sam Hain ((UK, 7:08)
Followed by Q&A with Bonnie Bakeneko and Bonnie Baker
Fetish Vs. Material by Alex Caroppi & Benedetta Martino (Brazil, 1:09)
Pony Play by Martin Chalk & Gillian Mosely (UK, 4:07)
Gushing Bride by Aaron Hawks (USA, 8:46)
Bloodbath Red by Sean Higgins (Australia, 1:00)
Learning Hebrew – Excerpt by Louis Joon (UK, 1:30)
Shame by Sasha Krohn (UK/Germany, 4:40)
Mr Fitzpatrick by Iain Marcks (USA, 9:46)
Gold Fetish by Rosalina Merrohue (USA, 0:41)
Vitamin D by Abhishek Samariya (Australia, 2:09)
Shine by Jessica Rispal (France, 3:40)
M is For Melon by Luis Solarat (UK, 1:59)
The Gaper by Lauren Jane Williams (UK, 10:43)
Followed by Q&A with Lauren Jane Williams (director of The Gaper)
AARON HAWKS’s Domestic Dispute (Sunday)
7pm: SHORTS 4 : INSIDE BDSM SPECIAL £10
Poison In My Heart by Louis Fleischhauer (Germany, 9:47)
Inside Performance #1 by Frederic Fontenoy (France 6:20)
Domestic Dispute & Don’t Say A Word by Aaron Hawks (USA, 14:56)
Valkyrie by Lyndsey Lupe (UK, 7:48)
M.Y. by Jessica Rispal (France, 9:42)
Akt I by Feris Tergo (UK, 2:59)
Akt II by Feris Tergo (UK, 5:16)
8pm: AMAURY GRISEL SHORTS SPECIAL £10
Bald, Love & Blood by Amaury Grisel (France, 7:16)
Constellation by Amaury Grisel (France, 2:26)
Fausten – Punishment by Amaury Grisel (France, 6:03)
Fuck My Face Slowly by Amaury Grisel (France, 3:52)
La Gravite Ephemere by Amaury Grisel (France, 8:39)
Muray Dead – Damage by Amaury Grisel (France, 3:47)
Tu E(s) La Fille by Amaury Grisel (France, 11:23)
AMAURY GRISEL’s Bald, Love & Blood (Sunday)
9pm: AWARDS CEREMONY & AFTER-PARTY
Entry is free with ticket receipt from any of the shows. Awards will be made in the following categories:
Best Short Film
Best Video Art
Best Kink Moment
BELOW: A Q&A with director Lauren Jane Williams follows Friday’s screening of The Gaper
Published June 8, 2019