Tag Archives: CUFF.Docs

Rebel Dykes @ CUFF.Docs

The Calgary Underground Film Festival has often been kind enough to include queer history in their programming line-up. This year, the documentary festival running November 24-28, 2021, is featuring Rebel Dykes about a pivotal ten year period in London, England’s lesbian community (1981-1991).

Rebel Dykes touches on themes of kink, hedonism, fashion, drugs, nightlife and political activism. This rabble-rousing documentary focuses on the heritage of young punk lesbians who existed on the edge of society in areas like Brixton, Peckham, Soho, and Hackney. The documentary uses archival footage, interviews with members of the movements, and is intercut with animation, to share this untold story.

Director Siobhan Fahey explains the film came out of a queer oral history project that started in 2014. The Rebel Dykes History Project preserves, explores and shares the archive of “a bunch of kick ass post punk dykes who shook up London, UK in the 1980s.”

“This boisterous oral history of a little-known underground London lesbian scene which spawned from a collision between punk and feminism is a blast” —SCREENDAILY

Rebel Dykes is available to stream on demand, or one can catch the in-person screening November 25th, 9:30 PM at the Globe Cinema. Come out for queer history in Calgary!



Today the 8th Annual CUFF.Docs Documentary Film Festival opens and runs until December 1st. As per new pandemic restrictions the festival has moved completely online. If you like documentaries, this festival always delivers. Now they have a must-see film for queer history fans.

CURED takes viewers inside the campaign that led to a pivotal moment in the struggle for LGBTQ equality: the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Combining eyewitness testimony with newly unearthed archival footage, the film reveals how a small group of impassioned activists achieved this unexpected victory.

“Suspenseful and furnishing a slam-dunk case about the landmark importance of this event, Cured is probably the best LGBTQ documentary of the year.” – Bay Area Reporter

Interestingly, there is a Calgary connection to this historical event. Rick Sullivan, a University of Calgary grad student and gay activist of the early 70s attempted a similar intervention. He met with local delegates to the American Psychological Association’s AGM to bring forward a motion to strike homosexuality as a mental illness from the DSM. The U of C delegates going to the convention declined to bring his motion forward. He says: “I remember being very stung by this at a personal as well as a political level.”

U of C Student and Calgary Gay Liberation Front co-founder Rick Sullivan in 1974

Brennan Tilley, CUFF’s lead film programmer says: “a common theme across many selections in CUFF.Docs this year is how stories are told and by whom. We have several films that feature subjects that define their own narrative. The inclusion of homosexuality in the DSM is an oft mentioned piece of history. What is rarely covered is how it came to be removed. The ultimate decision came four years after the Stonewall uprising. There is a stark contrast in the methods of these two events but they are closely tied stepping stones in the progress of LGBTQ rights. It is important to highlight how a landmark decision was reached through meetings, academic research, symposia, reviews, deliberations, and a vote. It also is much more entertaining than one might expect from a documentary about a scientific body altering a manual.”

An image from CURED: activists Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and Dr. Anonymous