Get to Know: Riot Grrrl Film Night #GENESISTERS
Looking for inclusive, inspiring and riotous events? Not So Popular's Jade French says get down to #genesisters asap, after catching up with co-founder and journalist Laura Maw. Catering for film buffs and feminists alike, they add panel talks and live music to make sure this isn't your typical trip to the cinema...
The #genesisters are here, and they’re bringing riot grrrl back. Mixing all the best bits of culture together, they pack movies, music and mates into one evening. At their last event, they screened Patti Smith: Dream of Life – which is essential viewing for anyone looking for a spot of creative inspo. The documentary has an air of nostalgia and mourning for the past-gone era of punk. So, it’s also an interesting choice for an evening that takes a hefty dose of inspiration from riot grrrl – a genre that often comes with its own degree of backwards looking and longing for the ‘good old days’. #genesisters manage to navigate the tricky waters of nostalgia though, by making sure their events are inclusive and intersectional spaces.
With their “usual dose of radical intersectional feminism” they handed the stage over to the awesome Dream Nails, whose mix of politics and punk feels fresh. They tackle contemporary issues with the fierceness of a young Kathleen Hanna – and they got all the girls to the front! Add to that the energetic sounds of Fightmilk and filling Genesis Cinema with zines, punk and power, and you've got a night that's all about the DIY ethos with a 4th wave twist. Plus cocktails.
Their upcoming event on 14th May screens the Oscar-nominated Mustang, and includes a power-packed panel of Feminist Fightback, WOC Film Club, Reel Good Film Club, Another Gaze Journal, Gal Dem Magazine and F-Rating. By not just letting the film choices speak for themselves, #genesisters give a voice to cultural commentators who can critique and debate.
We caught up with co-founder Laura Maw, to ask a few more questions about the night and what their future aims are and how to harness that #girlpower.
Could you tell us a bit about the #genesisters nights, why you decided to start them and who you are?
I started #genesisters last summer with Michael Hall, Bobbie Hughes and Rosie Knight - it all began with a group of us sat on the floor of the cinema making 'GIRLS TO THE FRONT' signs with marker pens and making bunting from felt! We were all tired of going to gigs with all male line-ups, catering to a male audience, and wanted to create a space which prioritises those who identify as women, women of colour and the LGBTQ community - to make gigs more inclusive and safe. Each #genesisters night we book female-fronted and all-female bands, screen a feminist music film and book feminist zine stalls! As well as working on these events, I'm a freelance writer for Oh Comely magazine, Hazlitt and The F-Word.
What is it about riot grrrl that appeals to you?
I love that riot grrrl is unafraid to be angry, its punk DIY ethic and its emphasis on women making art for other women. That's so important. Obviously in the 90s riot grrrl wasn't very intersectional or inclusive and we're trying to change that by bringing forward the good parts, like the girls to the front policy, booking female bands, and mixing those ethics with a more inclusive feminism.
Is it still a relevant movement to the 4th wave? How do you make sure to be inclusive in your events?
I think riot grrrl's ethics are still relevant today in that they encourage women to be angry, to channel this anger into music or art or zinemaking or political demonstrations and to join forces with other women to make change. As I mentioned above, riot grrrl wasn't very inclusive in the 90s but at #genesisters we try to be as diverse and inclusive as possible in the bands, zine stalls and speakers we book, giving space to trans women, queer women, women of colour. We're working with groups like WOC Film Club and Reel Good Film Club, which prioritise women of colour in film, and the LGBTQ+ Society from Queen Mary University. It's important to prioritise other marginalised voices, and important to remember that you can always do better.
Your flyers include Beyonce and Kathleen - how is pop evolving to include feminism?
I think pop music and politics is a magic combination to bring feminism into the mainstream. It's so great to see Beyoncé's Lemonade or Formation bring black feminism and racism to the front of everybody's consciousness, and that's so powerful and important.
What's your favourite riot grrrl movie? And how do you pick what to screen?
I really love The Punk Singer, the documentary on Kathleen Hanna, which we screened at the first #genesisters event. We usually try to pick films that are focused on women and music, so we've had We Are The Best!, and then Patti Smith: Dream of Life most recently.
What has the response been to these nights?
Really great! It's always lovely to overhear the women that come to #genesisters saying how cool it is to see so many women, to catch people taking the feminist quote posters home, or to have Janey from Dream Nails asking all the women to come to the front of the stage. It feels so good to be in a room of women supporting other women and it's such a lovely feeling to have the work you do appreciated so much.
What's up next?
We've started organising #genesisters branded film screenings, which is very cool - this weekend (Saturday 14th May) we've organised a special screening of Mustang with The F-Rating. We've got a panel of speakers from Reel Good Film Club, WOC Film Club, Feminist Fightback, Another Gaze Journal and Gal-dem zine. I'm very excited!
Other than that, we've also organised a branch of the East End Film Festival which includes a screening of A Punk Prayer, the Pussy Riot documentary, with an introduction from the director Mike Lerner - and we're super excited to host the world premiere of Lost Grrrls: Riot Grrrl In Los Angeles with a skype Q&A with director Vega Darling. We've also announced bands Yassassin and Colour Me Wednesday to play that night too, which is very exciting! We're also currently working on a #genesisters weekend festival - stay tuned!