GFEST 2014 Events Prove London Is The Top ‘LGBT Friendly’ Place

GFEST – Gaywise FESTival, an ‘all arts – all welcome’ art fest in eclectic London came to close last weekend on Saturday the 22 November. A number of films, performances, visual arts events combined with debates took place in venues all over London, including Menier Gallery near London Bridge, Rich Mix in Shoreditch, RADA studios in central London, Roehampton University and Bar Titania on Charing Cross Road.

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DSC_0273 MOHINI God Becomes Enchantress 2 DSC_0853

GFEST 2014 artistic director Niranjan DSC_0051Kamatkar commented on what many visitors described as ‘a successful event’. He said, “Now in its seventh year, the response we received at every GFEST 2014 event from 10th to 22nd November was phenomenal. It shows why we want to set this festival in London. The overwhelmingly positive response received for LGBT artists, films and performers during the festival proves  that London has emerged as the top ‘LGBT friendly’ place, a city that is viewed by many as cultural capital of the world now.”

There were almost two events showcasing LGBT talent every day, spread over the two weeks period, where a number of potentially controversial works were exhibited.  GFEST 2014 programme included the works from: British artist Sadie Lee presenting her take on Francois Boucher’s erotic paintings, Cabaret performer Bird La Bird presenting strong political commentary through her show and filmmaker Richard Mansfield’s horror film ‘The Secret Path’ – a debut in a rare LGBT genre.

Niranjan added, “I am pleasantly surprised by the warmth shown by London audiences to the works presented during the last fortnight at GFEST. Both straight or gay couples, across all age ranges, commented on how much they enjoyed the art works through their feedback. The events broke barriers with a number of young men from diverse cultural backgrounds, who described themselves as straight, were visibly very comfortable to visit the exhibition and admire the works. Although we hear or know of violent attacks on LGBT community members in London, the fantastic reception of events like GFEST 2014 sends a message that if we are not complacent in the present, then we will have a less fragile future ahead.”

Early statistical figures show more than half of audiences who attended the event fall into  the 22 -44 age group and nearly a third of them described themselves from Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.




GFEST 2014 – London LGBTQI ‘All Arts’ Festival launch a “successful event”

GFEST- Gaywise FESTival 2014 was launched yesterday -Tuesday the 11th November at Menier Gallery near London Bridge. The annual London cross-arts festival’s launch event and visual art exhibition private view was dubbed as ‘a successful event’ by attendees.

Arts industry experts, critics, online bloggers and editors rubbed shoulders with GFEST 2014 artists and filmmakers in the South London art gallery last night. Attendees included LGBT community member,   GFEST 2014 funders and supporters as well as the arts, venue, media and community partners.

Not-to-be-missed 4 screenings of GFEST 2014 films and a cabaret night will be presented at Rich Mix in Shoreditch in East London from Saturday the 15th to Tuesday the 18th  November.

GFEST Mythical Dance performances include new commissioned works by Kali Chandrasegaram and Justin McCarthy, who will present ‘Indian LGBT Myths’ through their dance shows on Thursday the 20th November at 7.30 pm at RADA Studio in Central London near Tottenham Court Road.

Some images from  the launch:IMG_0306 GFEST20143.1 GFEST20144.1GFEST20141.1GFEST20142.1

The sensuality of the Indian Mythical dance at GFEST 2014

Helton Vilar

Dancer Justin McCarthy was born in Michigan, USA, but it is in India where he found a home when it comes to his art. He masters the Bharatanatyam, an ancient Indian style that basically mixes myth and spirituality, but also explores notions of sensuality, adorned by the legendary Carnatic music. According to McCarthy, it provides a “glimpse into cultural and sexual mores prevalent in South India for many centuries”. Below the artist explains us a bit more about this beautiful choreography, describing the special piece that will be a world premeire during the GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2014 on 20 November.

Mohini by Justin McCarthy, image by Briana Blasko
Mohini by Justin McCarthy, image by Briana Blasko

“Mohini, the Enchantress is a solo piece in Bharatanatyam. It illustrates three mythological incidents in which the god Vishnu transforms himself into an enchanting woman, Mohini. In the first instance, he does so to trick and kill a demon, in the second to trick a host of demons and thereby aid a host of gods, and in the third to please the god Shiva. Apart from the usual Bharatanatyam music, i.e., Carnatic voice, flute and mridangam (drum), another duo of musicians is used, a nadasvaram (a reed instrument) player and a thavil (a drum) player. Visually, the piece is enhanced with images and masks created by a Kalamkari (a painting-on-cloth style of southern Andhra Pradesh) artist.

The choreography deals with the male gaze in various forms and the return gaze of the male-now-become-female Vishnu/Mohini. The ambiguities of the rapports thus created are explored by means of a series of racy erotic songs called javalis written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for ‘dancing girls’ in South India. The myths connected with Vishnu/Mohini have always fascinated me because of their sexual ambiguity. The protagonists, both Mohini and the hosts of divine and demonic males, all hover somewhere between archetypes and stereotypes. The tensions and unabashed commerce set up between them also offer intriguing entry points into the stories”.

The spectacle will count with the following cast:

Dancer and choreographer- Justin McCarthy
Vocalist- Sudha Raghuraman
Flutist- G. Raghuraman
Mridangist- MV Chandrasekhar
Nadaswaram- Raja
Thavil- Viramani

Kalamkari images- P. Ramachandraiah
Lighting- Deepa Dharmadhikari
The Mythical Dance is part of the GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2014 . It happens on Thursday the 20 November at RADA Studio, 6 Chenies Street, London, WC1E 7EX:  box office: +44 (0)20 7307 5060 Booking email:

A short film with a deep drama at GFEST 2014

Helton Vilar

In 12 minutes, The Last Farewell (2013) features a delicate story of a gay man who decides to review his own life, reflecting about his successes and failures, unveiling a path to comprehension and forgiveness. In this quick interview, Swedish director Casper Andreas tells us more in detail about this award-winner production.



How do you describe “The Last Farewell”?

The short answer is that it’s an alternative family drama about life and death! Sounds dramatic and it is in a way, but it’s also a sweet love story dealing with acceptance and forgiveness.

We see “new” topics related to LGBT people, not usually explored in cinema, such as maturity, death…

There are a few films out there about LGBT characters dealing with those things. It certainly was something new for me to explore though (I’m mostly known for my romantic comedies) but its been amazing to see how audiences of all ages are able to relate to the characters and what they are going through.

How was filming it?

Like always the challenges when filming an independent film was time and money. We had an amazing two-day shoot though. My actors were just wonderful and the film team was so supportive making sure we got everything we needed finished in those two days.

Would you like to highlight any part in specific?

Well there is a moment in the second part of the film when the main character does a quick turn that I’m super happy with. I think that sequence is very powerful and I hope everyone is paying attention at that moment. But it’s a 12 min film so hopefully they will be paying attention throughout.

The screening happens as part of GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2014 film screening programme on Monday, 17/11 at 12 pm at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA


GFEST 2014 Films list and dates

GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2014 Sensational films line-up. Enjoy the diverse films on big screen.


Check for more and please help spread the word.

GFEST 2014 Films at Rich Mix, 15 to 18 November 2014

35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

Sat 15 Nov / 12 noon / To Russia with love (short) + STAND feature drama: Booking info

Sun 16 Nov / 12 noon / Brace (short) + Fagbug Nation, feature documentary : Booking info

Mon 17 Nov / 6 pm / A Last Farewell (short) + The Way He Looks, feature drama : Booking info

Tues 18 Nov / 8.15 pm / June (short) + Secret Path, feature drama : Booking info

Box Office : 020 7613 7498 / /  concs and incl. promotional prices

Where are the gays in history?

Helton Vilar

That’s a good question, which Director Richard Mansfield tries to respond. He tells us about The Secret Path, a drama set in the 1810s, telling the story of two British gay marines who flew persecution to embark into a journey of suspense and horror. Mansfield gives us a brief introduction on his film and also approaches the lack of productions telling stories of how gays have overcome different moments of history.

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Director Richard Mansfield’s The Secret Path will be London Premiere at GFEST 2014 films

“The Secret Path is a period drama, romance and horror film about Frank and Theo; two sailors in love escaping the British Navy in 1810 and falling prey to a supernatural force. I think we’re starting to see more period LGBT films with films like ‘Pride’ and ‘The Imitation game’ and they’re being made for a mainstream audience, which is very encouraging.

I’d love to see more LGBT period dramas focusing on LGBT characters throughout the ages and spanning different genres like horror. We were very lucky with the production, we filmed guerrilla on location. You never know what you may come across when out in the elements but the rain held off and we had the place to ourselves most of the time. It was pretty cold though and there were a lot of planes going overhead meaning I had to re-record the dialogue in post-production.

The audience should pay particular attention to the relationship between the two men, it’s very sweet authentic and romantic. I was thrilled the way they brought the characters of Frank and Theo to life. I made ‘The Secret Path’ for a gay audience but I hope it has crossover qualities”.

The Secret Path screening happens at GFEST – Gaywise FESTival on Tuesday, 18/11 at 8.15 pm at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA

@GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2014 Brochure

GFEST – Gaywise FESTival from 10 to 22 November venues : films & cabaret at Rich Mix (15 to 18 Nov), Dance at RADA Studio (20 Nov), Art exhibition at Menier Gallery (10 to 22 Nov), Bar Titania (a new event: Authors book reading ‘L is for..’ free entry – turn up on 13 Nov at 6 pm ) & debate at Roehampton University (19 Nov)

Download : GFEST2014Ebrochure  & See full event list (10 to 22 Nov)