Celebrating inclusivity through film, FRAGMENTS FESTIVAL returns for a third edition September 28 – October 1. Created and programmed by the team at London’s award-winning Genesis Cinema (voted #1 in Time Out’s Best Cinema’s In London 2021), Fragments was intentionally conceived as a platform for underrepresented filmmakers to exhibit their work: a showcase of films with unique individuals and minority groups as their focus.
This year’s festival comprises 8 features, 26 shorts, and 11 events including parties, discussion forums, workshops, and special events. Some are special previews of anticipated new films ahead of their UK theatrical release, some are award-winners from the international film festival circuit, some are undiscovered gems you may not yet have heard of – and they all spotlight brilliant stories by and of women, non-binary folks and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community, disabled people, working class individuals, and Black, Asian and Arab communities. The result is a range of stories that celebrate the scope and possibilities of cinema.
This year, Fragments launched a pre-selector programme to ensure the programming team is made up of the people they aim to represent on screen. The Fragments pre-selector team comprises 10 individuals from various backgrounds and of various nationalities, spanning 3 continents: Europe, Africa and Asia, who collaborated with the core programmers in shaping the vibrant Fragments 2023 programme. 57% of the films are directed by women, 11% by non-binary filmmakers, and 32% by men. Fragments is supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London. Proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network, funded by the National Lottery.
“I’m thrilled that Genesis once again is able to deliver Fragments Festival,” shares Tyrone Walker-Hebborn, owner of the Genesis Cinema. “With the world increasingly opening up to diversity, it’s more important than ever to expose people to as many perspectives as possible, and I believe film is still one of the best ways to do this. Thanks to the Fragments team for their incredible commitment and thank YOU for opening your hearts and minds. Enjoy!”
OPENING AND CLOSING FILMS
The festival opens on September 28 with a Special Preview of THE OLD OAK (dir: Ken Loach, UK) with lead actor Dave Turner joining for a live Q&A. Rumoured to be the final film by acclaimed British director Ken Loach, this Cannes Palme d’Or-nominated drama completes his ‘Northeast Trilogy’ that began with I, Daniel Blake and Sorry We Missed You. Tackling subjects ranging from community deprivation to the refugee crisis, the film centres on The Old Oak, the last-remaining pub in a once-thriving mining community. As pub landlord TJ (Dave Turner) struggles to keep the pub running, tensions mount following the sudden arrival of Syrian refugees who have been housed in the area. Preceding this screening will be a conversation in Genesis Cinema’s Bar Paragon, led by Tower Hamlets Trades Council and United East End, focusing on community action and campaigning.
Fragments closes on October 1 with the London Premiere of SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD (dir: Anna Hints, Estonia). The Estonian entry for the 2024 Academy Awards®, it documents a space where women can share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences. In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women wash off the shame trapped in their bodies and regain their strength through a sense of communion. A beautiful and intimate exploration of body positivity, mental health, and feminism.
Feature highlights include screenings of two award-winners from L.A. Outfest and Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival. A teenage boy’s unexpected crush turns a camping trip into a weekend of self-discovery in heartwarming coming-of-age story BIG BOYS (dir: Corey Sherman, USA). An uptight little person and his free-spirited, alien-obsessed neighbour hit the road in search for their place in the universe in off-beat sci-fi UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS (dir: Juan Felipe Zuleta, USA).
For thousands of years, women in China, who were often forced into oppressive marriages and forbidden to read or write, shared a secret language amongst themselves called Nushu. This language bonded generations of Chinese women in a clandestine support system of sisterhood and survival. Set in contemporary China, HIDDEN LETTERS (dir: Violet Du Feng, Qing Zhao, China) documents two modern women who are connected by their fascination for Nushu – but equally they both find it a struggle to balance their lives as independent women in today’s China. Includes pre-recorded Q&A with director. Presented in partnership with Ashes Of Time Chinese Film Festival.
In GINGER & HONEY MILK (dir: Mika Imai, Japan), deaf and non-binary filmmaker Mika Imai depicts a complex four-way relationship between two Deaf and queer best friends and their potential love interests. Presented in partnership with Queer East.
Animated stop-motion comedy OINK (dir: Mascha Halberstad, Netherlands) sees a 9-year-old girl receive a piglet as a gift from her grandfather. She’s soon raising the cute little pig like a puppy – but unbeknown to her, potential peril looms in the form of the local “King Sausage” contest. This captivating family-friendly film touches on topics including animal welfare and vegetarianism. A special preview screening in partnership with Modern Films.
Highlighting the ethics and responsibility inherent in documentary filmmaking, SUBJECT (dir: Camilla Hall, Jennifer Tiexiera, USA) examines a wide range of well-known documentaries from the past decade and reveals the impact their commercial success has had on the lives of the onscreen subjects. Titles featured include true crime series The Staircase, basketball documentary film Hoop Dreams, award-winning Egyptian film The Square, and other notable titles such as The Wolfpack and Capturing the Friedmans.
UK Shorts programme WOLF AT THE DOOR comprises six shorts by female, queer and non-binary filmmakers, exploring topics including anxiety, depression, solitude, and hope. International programme BOUND TOGETHER includes shorts that tackle mental health, generational trauma, masculinity, queerness, grief, and acceptance. IN LIVING COLOUR comprises arty and experimental shorts from the USA, Canada, Germany, France, and Mexico, with narratives ranging from animal abuse to queer protests, boxing to chronic illness. And (SITES OF) HOME showcases the personal and challenging work of four female filmmakers from diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultures, confronting sensitive topics including rape and grief. Five short films will also precede some features and events.
An inclusive platform and clubnight, QUEER BRUK aims to bridge the gap between Afro-Caribbean music and queer nightlife – creating safe spaces for black and brown people to enjoy elements of their culture. Queer Bruk joins Fragments Festival to host a party celebrating Black culture, music, film and creativity on the eve of Black History Month and Nigeria Independence Day.
Commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council and curated by Prism of Black, the Black History Month event PRISM OF THE BLACK MALE is aimed at discussing Black masculinity in all its various forms. Comprising screenings of four short films plus a panel discussion hosted by Black-led organisations, the event will be followed by a mingling session with music and catered food by a Black-owned business. London-based Tanzanian artist, Precious Seronga will also be showcasing and selling her art. There is an allocation of free tickets to Tower Hamlets residents to this event.
Following the screening of Oink will be a family-friendly ANIMATION WORKSHOP where everyone will get to make their own little pig. Materials will be provided, and attendees will get a chance to see how stop-frame animation works. Sustainable fashion brand The Dyás will be showcasing and selling their new collection during a SUSTAINABLE FASHION event. Story Compound will host a FILM PITCHING MASTERCLASS and pitching challenge. See website for full list of events.
ACCESSIBLE TO ALL
Fragments Festival is not only about inclusivity on screen and behind the camera – it’s also about inclusivity in the cinema auditorium. Fragments will welcome diverse audiences by being as accessible as possible. All films will be shown in wheelchair accessible screens. All films supplied with subtitles will be shown in the subtitled format. Gender-neutral toilet facilities will be available. To keep the festival accessible to all, including low-income households, all regular Fragments Festival screenings are just £6 – see website for full details of pricings. An allocation of free tickets for those who can’t afford to attend will be made available via the Genesis low-income free ticketing scheme.
All festival films (except for the opening night title) will screen in competition as voted for by the cinema audience, with awards presented to Best Feature, Best Short and Young Filmmakers Award.