BFI FLARE REVIEW: ‘Pride & Protest’ (2020) Proudly Voicing Activism

Rating: 4 out of 4.

“It is in a concise ninety minutes that Pride & Protest highlights amazing activism”

“With all due respect, you don’t get to decide who is homophobic or not,” states Ferhan Khan, a queer Muslim activist, who very calmly provides a counter to an anti-LGBTQ protest outside a Birmingham primary school. Though with a megaphone loudly pronouncing their homophobia, the group are persistent.

A hard-cut from the protests outside of the primary school to the Birmingham Pride march led by LGBTQ+ Muslims is a visual contrast. The sudden transition is a stark reminder of the contradictory perspectives that can exist beside each other. In placing these individuals side by side, Pride & Protest introduces the forming of Rainbow Films – a volunteer-led collective – who document groups and subjects that engage in pressing dialogues in relation to queer people of colour. 

Ferhan Khan and a protester conversing

Pride & Protest takes the form of a documentary that follows a few individuals, a structure that is particularly common for LGBTQ+ focused pieces. Yet, it is the numerous individuals that lead the documentary through new areas and original spaces in its discussion of queer people of colour.

What is central to this film is the reminder that Pride remains a protest. “Our political is personal and our personal is political.” At the heart of the LGBTQ+ community remains a fight for acceptance and tolerance that celebrates its diversity and uniqueness. However, alongside celebration must be space for reflection.

“Stonewall and a lot of our historcial queer history was brought about by queer people of colour, that’s somehting we musn’t forget.”

The documentary acts as a safe space for discussion. Being welcomed into these activists’ discussions, it is in a concise ninety minutes that Pride & Protest highlights amazing activism; Blaise Singh works through characteristics of role models, issues of discrimation, and the creative ways that activists have formed communities and safe spaces where they can unapologetically exist.

Further questions are raised about discrimination and racism in the LGBTQ+ community. When so many LGBTQ+ spaces are white and male, Pride & Protest asks where can queer people of colour can share culturally-specific or shared familial experiences.

While numerous groups are explored through Pride & Protest, the documentary trips up in its sheer coverage of so many collectives. While this is brilliant on a front of visibility, the presentation leaves more to be desired with a deeper analysis of these groups or further details about these collectives that are bringing social change to their communities.

These brave individuals put themselves out in the open, positioned on a very human level that allows a connection on a baseline level of honesty and shared emotion that is engaging. With no data or numbers to create a wedge between human interaction, and without this separation of an emotional response, Pride & Protest works on a level of activism and the united aims of inclusivity for queer people of colour.

a collection of black activists at a gathering

One of the projects created by Rainbow Films to show the presence and visibility of queer people of colour is: ‘How Gay Friendly Is Your High Street?’ – a video project to demonstrate the local attitudes of neighbouring communities. The project consists of a couple walking down the highstreet and publicly expressing acts of affection, holding hands and kissing, with a focus being on the reactions of surrounding people. Staring and sneers are uncomfortable, a reminder of how expressions of queerness are still not truly welcomed or accepted outside of safe spaces.

Queer people of colour are the voices featured in Pride & Protest, the film itself illuminates their thoughts and activism. Images of black and brown bodies at UK Black Pride are celebrated alongside empowering personal narratives. Pride & Protest is not, however, naive to the continued progress that must be worked for: “This is just the start. We have a lot more work to do.”

Director: Blaise Singh

Producer: Blaise Singh (Make A Difference Entertainment)

Release: TBC

Images Sourced from BFI