In anticipation for this year's Turn On Fest, Superbia spoke to 'Make A Scene' film club...
Last month, Hope Mill Theatre announced the line-up and dates for Turn On Fest 2021. The LGBTQ+ arts festival will spread over two weeks with an incredible array of online shows from March 17th – 28th.
Headlining the festival will be an evening in conversation with Hope Mill Theatre patron and creator of Channel 4’s new drama, It’s A Sin, Russell T Davies hosted by Julie Hesmondhalgh.
Superbia, is Hope Mill Theatre’s partnering organisation, is hosting two key events within the festival, Fat Roland: Seven Inch and Make A Scene: Quizabella Rossellini.
Set in the last record shop still standing, Manchester comic Fat Roland re-examines his life through not-so-teenage kicks, surrounded by forgettable (and unforgettable) pop music. Originally a five-star, one-idiot commission for The Lowry, this special adaptation for the Edinburgh Fringe is making its Manchester premiere at Turn On Fest.
For Turn on Fest 2021, Superbia have invited the Make A Scene team to host something a little bit different for the exciting queer arts festival at Hope MIll Theatre. Make A Scene is Manchester’s big queer film club renowned for their hysterical and loving tributes to camp and LGBT+ cinema and TV.
In a Make A Scene first, hostesses Gary James Williams and Grace Oni Smith bring a brand-new show to Turn On Fest – a new comedy game show that takes you on a romp through camp itself! Quizabella Rossellini (named after the iconic star of beloved gay fave Death Becomes Her) celebrates your film, TV and internet knowledge from Wizard of Oz to Chanel the Parrot via Nighty Night through a series of increasingly chaotic and ridiculous rounds.
Date: Thursday 18th March
Time: 7:30pm – Midnight
Make A Scene is famous for their raucous and hilarious watch-a-long sing-a-long drink-a-long film events where screenings, performance and audience participation collide in spectacular fashion.
At the heart of the project however lies a deep love of cinema and television and, of course, parties. We caught up with Make A Scene’s Gary Williams to hear more…
Can you describe what Make A Scene is to readers of Manchester’s Finest?
Ultimately Make A Scene is a big film club for people who love camp and queer film and TV. We’re based in Manchester but anyone can be part of it and we’ve toured all around the UK with screenings of our fave stuff. We’re most famous for our way-too-interactive screenings of camp classics, getting the audience hands on with films beloved by the LGBTQ community from flower-arrange-a-long Little Shop of Horrors to a Victoria Wood A Thon via Death Becomes Her and Showgirls.
There’ll be drag queens, drunken commentary, quoting and singing a long, all in the sort of immersive setting that you’d expect from live cinema like Secret Cinema only it’s all for sillier and gayer films!
We also programme more straight-up screenings and seasons to get people excited about or introduce people to the queer film canon and to new LGBT films. We had a home at Ducie Street Warehouse’s mini-cinema before COVID closed everything. We went from a big BFI funded UK tour of Cabaret in January to a year of totally online events…which wasn’t the plan! But our Golden Girls watch a long and the Halloween scream a long Scream event have shown that we don’t need a cinema screen to do Make A Scene – but we do miss it.
What new exciting outing will you be bringing to this year’s TURN ON Fest at Hope Mill Theatre?
This is another brand new thing for us after a year of doing new and innovative things. This isn’t a film screening at all… this is a journey into camp itself! A brain busting, bizarre new show that tests the sort of niche knowledge LGBTQ people seem to accumulate on pop culture.
It’s a comedy game show that’s a spoof of panel shows that take subjects like sport and music seriously. Why shouldn’t queer people get a panel show about the stuff that we like? It’s not A Question of Sport this is A Question of Camp! Or maybe, Have I Got Camp For You!
“It’s like an inheritance and we’re all about keeping it going….”
Make A Scene’s mission has always been to give spaces for queer people and our friends to get together and enjoy the film and TV we LOVE in a big celebratory and fun, often drunken way. It’s also about passing on the knowledge and love of certain films, TV, film stars, writers, film makers that previous generations of queer people have enjoyed.
We do that as a community, we show each other films we have been shown from The Wizard of Oz and Bette Davies films to recommending Nighty Night and Acorn Antiques to 20 year olds who haven’t heard of these shows and films but we know will love them.
It’s weird that we as a community often have a joint, similar sense of humour, a love of the visual and love of camp that echoes back generations and passes on to new generations from our friends and chosen family. It’s like an inheritance and we’re all about keeping it going.
So that’s where the new show comes from. Testing this knowledge from the contestants that take part but also passing on the knowledge to the audience and letting them play along. There’s no greater feeling than knowing you’re superior because you knew the answer! If you think you have the best, queerest, richest film, TV and pop culture knowledge you can apply to be part of it!
“Think Shooting Stars mashed up with a really gay pub quiz and a drag cabaret show…!”
But be warned it’s Make A Scene so it’s not just a boring dry gameshow! Not only will it be packed with a whole host of clips and references there’ll be daft and chaotic games, specially filmed sketches, cameos and the chance to play along at home if you’re watching online. Think Shooting Stars mashed up with a really gay pub quiz and a drag cabaret show – it’s Quizabella Rossellini…!
If you could pick 3 Make A Scene film classics to recommend what would they be?
Death Becomes Her is probably top of the list, not only is our new show named after it’s star Isabella Rossellini, it’s my favourite film and the best film about insane beauty standards ever made with the tightest script, career best comedy performances by Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep and special effects that still stand up.
Co-host of Make A Scene Grace Oni Smith would recommend Showgirls – the ultimate midnight movie and so-bad-it’s-good camp film. If you embrace the wobbly acting and nudity, it’s actually all about America’s weird relationship with sex and women’s bodies.
It’s made by the director of Robocop and Starship Troopers and the satire is just as pointed and visuals just as indelible and overblown.
And let’s choose a final film for our times, The Living End. Gregg Araki’s 90s film about two gay teen lovers who have HIV who go on a suicidal, hedonistic, road trip powered by their diagnosis. The gay Thelma & Louise but with more politics and sex, our central duo vows to take the power back into their own hands and drive to Washington to infect George W. Bush with their blood, betting there’d then be a “magic cure for AIDS by the morning”.
Powerful, funny, wild, sexy and a rallying cry at an uncaring government in an epidemic that just left them to die. It reminds us to stay angry and to hold our leaders accountable. A good companion piece to Russell T Davies’ new drama It’s A Sin on Channel 4 that tells the story of British gay teens in the 80s faced with the AIDS crisis.
Superbia supports LGBTQ+ artists by promoting events through its events page and social media, funding LGBTQ+ events and projects with Superbia Grants, and by curating original events in collaboration with partners, venues, groups, curators, community members, artists and creatives.
Superbia is Manchester Pride’s year-round programme of arts and culture, designed to support, curate, fund and promote LGBTQ+ events throughout Greater Manchester.