This week’s Wonder Women is Siobhan Fahey, producer of the film Rebel Dykes.
So tell me about Rebel Dykes
We’re very excited about the film; it’s about women in the 1980s who lived an outlaw life – squats, bands, sex work. We were disliked by ‘mainstream’ lesbians, I suppose you could say we were giving the gay rights movement a bad name. The general public didn’t like us either! But it all feels forgotten; people talk about Riot Grrl but there was a lot going on before that. We were artists, queers – it’s a story that needs telling.
What we’re showing at Wonder Women is a 25 minute cut of the film – we’re really excited to finally be showing it in Manchester because we’re a Manchester film crew, so it’s sort of like a homecoming. It was also partly shot in Salford – we recreated scenes for the film. London was a dirty old town in the ‘80s but it’s all glass now. You can still get a sense of it in Salford so we put on leather jackets and filmed ourselves. All the music in the film is what we recorded in the squats at the time, and there’s archive footage and interviews – we’re retelling the stories.
The festival is about creative activism – what do you want people to take away from the film?
To get out there and make films! We started with no experience, but we wanted to make this film so we learnt as went. The day before our first festival deadline our sound editor was up all night finding out how to make the sound cinema quality, it’s not about knowing what you’re doing.
We’ve had a great response at other festivals and I think that’s partly because the politics feel relevant – living in austerity – but also because there’s so few films about lesbians, there’s very little representation and people are eager to see it. There’re so many stories that want to be told so pick up a camera and stick at it – don’t wait for funding or the right moment.
The showing is having a collection for MASH, who run a drop-in centre for sex workers in Manchester. How did you get involved with them?
A lot of the Rebels were sex workers, strippers – it felt safe, but it’s not like that for everyone. I’ve got friends who work with MASH so that’s how we heard about them. As a former sex worker, I’m in favour of decriminalisation and safety – it’s all about having a safe space to go to.
What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?
There’s so much on! The Fabric of Protest looks incredible, the idea of loads of women coming together to create something is really exciting; I’d love to go to that.
Who’s your favourite Wonder Woman?
It changes every week! It’s usually someone I’m working with – it’s been great to see what Anne Louise has done putting together the festival, and Jane Bradley from For Book’s Sake who I’ve been working with on this showing. The film itself will be followed by poets and artists performing things inspired by what we’ve done, which will be such an experience.
Finally, where can people see the film?
It’s on at HOME on 12 March at 6pm – buy tickets to the film! We want to show it on the biggest screen at HOME so we need to sell as many tickets as possible beforehand. So buy tickets and bring friends!