Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival opens on 15 November

This year's East London festival has a special focus on gay rights, bullying and homophobia

SIX days, 40 events, nine UK premieres, an American gay street gang, a third gender family in India and a Havana hairdresser who moonlights as a drag cabaret queen.

From 15 – 20 November, this year’s Fringe! Queer Film and Arts Fest spans the globe as well as the diverse LGBT community.

Launched in 2011, the annual festival has become a highlight of East London’s cultural calendar. This year, in tribute to the June massacre at Orlando gay club Pulse, the festival has a special focus on gay rights, bullying and homophobia.

The Institute of Light in London Fields will play host to 'Check It', a documentary following the experiences of Washington DC’s only gay and transgender gang, who clubbed together to protect themselves from bullying in a city with one of the highest rates of anti-gay violence in the States.

There are lighter sides to the festival too, with Hackney’s cinemas, bars and clubs hosting films, art, workshops and, of course, parties exploring the theme of ‘queer family’.

The first of these takes place at the Rio Cinema’s grand festival opening on 15 November. Shot and set in Cuba, the Academy Award Winning 'Viva' carves a narrative of redemption out of a teenage boy’s discovery of drag.

A new partnership also sees Hackney Showroom becoming the festival’s lead venue this year, hosting shorts, panels, workshops and Death Drive – one big, multisensorial event rolling together film screening, performance and club night. Don’t miss it…