QuEERCORE: HOW TO PUNK A REVOLUTION | ALTERED INNOCENCE / Fanatic | (2017, 83 MINs)
What happens when the community you need is not the community you have?
Tell yourself it exists over and over, make fan zines that fabricate hordes of queer punk revolutionaries, create subversive movies, and distribute those movies widely—and slowly, the community you’ve fabricated might become a real and radical heartbeat that spreads internationally. This is the story that Queercore tells, from the start of a pseudo-movement in the mid-1980s, intended to punk the punk scene, to the widespread rise of artists who used radical queer identity to push back equally against gay assimilation and homophobic punk culture.
Interviewees discuss homophobia, gender, feminism, AIDS, assimilation, sex, and, of course, art. The extensive participant list includes Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, John Waters, Justin Vivian Bond, Lynn Breedlove, Silas Howard, Pansy Division, Penny Arcade, Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, Deke Elash, Tom Jennings, Team Dresch, and many more.
Underscoring the interviews are clips from movies, zines, concerts, and actions iconic to the movement. As steeped in the radical queer, anti-capitalist, DIY, and give-no-fucks approach as queercore itself, the movie reveals the perspectives and experiences of bands, moviemakers, writers, and other outsiders, taking audiences inside the creation of the community—and art—so desperately needed by the same queers it encompassed.
Outfest - The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (USA)
Frameline (San Francisco, USA)
Hot Docs (Toronto, Canada)
Sheffield Doc|Fest (UK)
IDFA (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
DOC NYC (USA)
Melinka Festival (Serbia) - Best Queer Documentary
Homochrom Film Festival (Germany) - Audience Award - Best Documentary
Soundwatch - Audience Award
About Director, Yony Leyser:
Yony Leyser (B. 1984) grew up in Chicago. He studied writing, filmmaking and the dramatic arts in High School and at University. His mother is of Israeli/Iranian origin and his father of German Jewish origin. His work deals with race, gender identity, pop-culture and deviant social histories. His feature films have been shown collectively in over 150 film festivals; theatrically and on TV throughout the world; as well as at some of the world’s most recognized art institutions. He has received critical acclaim in publications including The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, Sight and Sound Magazine, and Haaretz.
By the age of 18, his first short films where accepted to film festivals. He finished his first feature-length film William S. Burroughs: A Man Within by the age of 24. Traveling with just a camera and backpack he managed to include many personalities in the comprehensive documentary including Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, John Waters and Sonic Youth. It was released to huge international acclaim in 2010.
Leyser relocated to Berlin in 2010. It was the city where his Jewish family was from, and most of whom had perished in the second world war. But before that dark history, it was an international capital of queer and alternative lifestyles, of nightlife and of the demimonde. It was that, which inspired him to write his Docufiction film Desire Will Set You Free.
For his most recent film Queercore, he builds on the foundations and ethos of his first two films with a more focused storytelling of the rebellious gay punk phenomena.
Queercore: How To Punk A Revolution (82 Minutes, Documentary )
Desire Will Set You Free (90 Minutes, Fiction )
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within (90 minutes, Documentary )
As a teenager, and into my early twenties my free time was spent at loud basement punk shows, making and trading my own zine and volunteering at an anarchist Zine library. While at University, I lived at Do-It-Yourself punk houses and warehouses with funny names like Dead Herring, The Haunted Kitchen and Mister City. We hosted concerts and benefits nearly every weekend. I was one of the few queer kids in that scene at the time. However, being queer was more then tolerated—it was championed. I remember one time at the punk house that I was living at in Lawrence, Kansas someone made a homophobic comment to me. Without even flinching my Michael Jordan-sized flatmate picked him up and threw him out our first floor window. As time went on I built and discovered more and more the queer faction of my scene.
The first queer zine that I remember coming across was Bimbox — An amazing, radical and hard-to-get Queercore zine made by Bruce LaBruce’s rival Johnny Noxzema. Like many of the Queercore zines it was nothing short of brilliant.
My zine The Yonilizer was not that differently than the zines that came before it—mostly filled with political ramblings along with personal stories and reviews of shows, movies and other zines. Friends drew comics and wrote stories for it. It became a collaborative effort. When we started making it in the early 2000s, it was a generation after zines had their heyday and became an homage to the earlier generation. I loved discovering deviant social histories and all the while contributing to them.
Shortly after finishing my film William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, I went on a tour with a group of queer writers and performers called Sister Spit and it was really the people I met on that tour that inspired me to start making this film.
The approach of Queercore was and still is radical compared to the LGBTQIA community of today, much of which seems to focus more on being accepted and politically correct, rather than revolutionary. It was not despite its perversity, but rather due to it, that allowed Queercore to stay potent and relevant.
Queercore was inspired by (and took jabs at) artists including John Waters, William S. Burroughs, and Jayne County. It opened the doors to new music genres like electroclash and queer hip hop. Its aesthetic has been appropriated in marketing campaigns. Filmmaker Miranda July and Musician/Comedian Carrie Brownstein both played in Queercore bands before the world knew who they were. Gucci named their 2017 shoe line Queercore, to a big backlash from its creators GB Jones and Bruce LaBruce. Probably as inspiring as the content, is the fact that the scene emerged from a farce; teenagers channeling their alienation to transform their perverse dreams into a much bigger reality – something most only fantasize about.
Author Dennis Cooper once wrote: LaBruce “croons with a Jayne Mansfieldian careerism.” Whether that is true or not, LaBruce continues his extremely prolific career as a filmmaker and his films are shown all around the world to international acclaim. At his solo art show in 2013 in Madrid, a right-wing christian group threw a pipe bomb in the gallery— luckily it failed to detonate. He had a retrospective at New York MOMA in 2014. His work is still cause for scandal and gets censored. Yet there seems to be very little public knowledge about the amazing post-modernist movement that he started and that I think we should all be taking a closer look at. Now, 25 years after its heyday, we have Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution. I interviewed over 60 people in the making of this film and I hope it will do justice to some of the rebellious spirit of the movement, as well as continues its legacy.
09/23: Brooklyn, NY @ Spectacle (Preview)
09/28-9/30: Brooklyn, NY @ Spectacle
09/28-10/4: Los Angeles, CA @ Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts
10/02: Miami, FL @ O Cinema
10/02: Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA
10/03-10/5: Seattle, WA @ Northwest Film Forum
10/04/2018: Yonkers, NY @ Alamo Drafthouse
10/05-10/11: San Francisco, CA @ Roxie Theater
10/12/2018: Santa Fe, NM @ Jean Cocteau Cinema
10/12-10/18: New Orleans, LA @ Zeitgeist
10/21/2018: Portland, OR @ Hollywood Theater
10/26/2018: San Luis Obispo, CA @ The Palm
11/25/2018: Harrisburg, PA @ Midtown Cinema
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