A short documentary charting the last 50 years of Manchester’s LGBTQ history through the personal story of two incredible women – feminist lesbian activists and founders of the pioneering Northern Women’s Liberation Rock Band.
Please pledge a donation if you can to help fund this important project and make sure this story is not lost to history: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/779911130/invisible-women-the-story-of-two-lgbtq-revolutiona
INVISIBLE WOMEN is a short documentary that will tell the untold story of the North West’s LGBTQ past over the last 50 years through the lens of two women’s incredible journey of activism and rebellion. Angela and Luchia have spent the last half a century fighting for their rights as women and as lesbians. Their work has revolutionised Manchester whilst transforming the lives of thousands of women and yet no record of them exists in the city’s archives; theirs is a story that risks disappearing from history. We want to change that with the film: INVISIBLE WOMEN.
THE STORY: Manchester, 1969. Luchia Fitzgerald, a teenage Lesbian runaway from Ireland struggles to survive on the streets of Manchester. She’s arrested and sent for a lobotomy to cure her of her “deviant sexual tendencies”. Luchia escapes the lobotomy to seek solace in the New Union, a pub at the epicentre of Manchester’s underground gay community. Luchia is at her lowest ebb when she hears a female student at the next table giving voice to every frustration she felt; Luchia pulls up a chair to listen. That student was Angela and this chance encounter sparked a relationship that has endured fifty years of euphoric highs and earth-shattering lows in the struggle to change life for ALL women.
Under Angela’s wing Luchia is educated and politicised through the burgeoning Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970s. The pair fall in love and form the Manchester branch of the GLF (Gay Liberation Front). Together they experiment with activism beginning by painting “Lesbians are everywhere” in yellow across Manchester. The couple then progress to helping form a rock band, [see more on https://womensliberationmusicarchive.co.uk/n/] opening a printing press and squatting a house that would become the city’s first women’s centre inspiring other local women in the process. When the police ask Angela and Luchia to start looking after battered wives Manchester’s first women’s refuge is formed.
As their work gains a momentum of its own and changes lives beyond the city Angela and Luchia’s love affair begins to falter. The GLF disbands, the band splits up and the printing press closes. It’s the 1980s and things are moving backwards not forwards. Set against this landscape of apathy comes a bombshell: Thatcher’s repressive Section 28 bill. It is this attack against their hard-won rights that forces the women to reunite and transform the city once again.
WHY THIS FILM MATTERS: 2017 witnessed a rich variety of programmes and films that explored the 50 years since the partial decriminalization of homosexuality. However, the vast majority of this work focused almost exclusively on the experience of white, middle-class gay men from London. The women’s story, and particularly the story of regional working-class women, has largely been ignored.
Whilst the film is ostensibly about Angela and Luchia’s personal and political journey we are using their relationship to explore Manchester and, in particular, the forgotten and, up until now, untold story of the North West’s LGBTQ past through a working class lens of rebellion and activism which is still alive today: Angela and Luchia are still very much fighting for their rights and the rights of LGBTQ people in Manchester.
WHY NOW: In 2018 – the year that marks the centenary since women won the partial right to vote AND the 30th anniversary since Thatcher enacted Section 28 – we want to bring the INVISIBLE WOMEN out from the shadows of history.
WHAT WE NEED AND COST: Until now we have entirely self-funded the project using our own camera kit to shoot. We have also been supported by institutions such as Manchester’s Peoples’ History Museum, Manchester Central Library, Contact Theatre and the Bishopsgate institute in London who have all offered either free filming locations or archive material. We have now provisionally got a premiere date: Manchester Pride, 24th – 27th August 2018 with support from the event organisers who are keen to feature women predominately in the festival.
In order to complete the film in time for Manchester Pride 2018 we need funding to license archive material, pay for the edit and commission a score.
ABOUT US Alice Smith (director) has factual TV broadcast credits as a producer on documentaries for BBC 4, PBS, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Her directing work includes short films, music videos and a Youtube channel (Super Women launching Summer 2018) that will feature documentary content about inspirational women, made entirely by women. Joe Ingham (producer) is a factual TV producer whose credits include The People’s History of LGBT Britain (BBC 4), Is Love Racist (C4), The Beatles Hippies and Hell’s Angels for Sky Arts.
Risks and challenges: With Manchester Pride 2018 looming there is a risk that we may not be able to complete the film in time for the premier. To mitigate this we have drawn on our years of experience working in broadcast TV. We’ve shot and edited as much of the material as possible and without funding. We have sourced all the archive material ourselves and we know exactly what we want to use and how. We have also lined up a composer and editor so that they can begin work as soon as we have secured the necessary funding.
Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ
Live and broadcast musical events for IWD 2018 include:
Special Late Junction session on Radio 3: Verity Sharp with an International Women’s Day show https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09th2st As part of BBC Radio 3’s schedule marking International Women’s Day, Verity Sharp celebrates the female musical collective in all its forms, styles, and structures. A special Late Junction collaboration session has been assembled for the occasion, featuring members of notable performance collectives past and present. Our unique, one-off trio features: Maggie Nicols, who co-founded the Feminist Improvising Group; Verity Susman, formerly of Electrelane; and Amble Skuse, a member of the Orchestra For Females And Laptops aka OFFAL. Hear the results of this historic, improvised musical meeting, as well as a roundtable conversation between participants on the history and future of the female collective.
Also featured on the programme is music from all over the globe made by women working together. Expect to hear: folk supergroup Coven; loose sound art collective Egyptian Females Experimental Music Session; traditional Tuareg trio Les filles de Illighadad; jazz band Nérija; hip hop crew Reykjavíkurdætur; and performance art improvisers Sheer Frost Orchestra.
8 March 2018 18:30 ~ The Power of Music – FORWARD – London. Artists Using Conversation and Music for Social Change. FORWARD UK‘s Musicians Unite to End FGM project in collaboration with Black HistoryStudies is pleased to present Journalist and FORWARD Ambassador, Ade Daramy will be in conversation with Blues artist Corey Harris (Corey Harris Band), Congolese hip hop artists Nka1 and Tunde (of Lopango Ya Banka) and UK female rapper extraordinaire – Sharna Cane. http://www.womensgrid.org.uk/?p=5463
The Royal College of Music is celebrating International Women’s Day with events, featuring compositions by female composers, plus the wonderful conductor, Holly Mathieson. http://www.rcm.ac.uk/events/seasonhighlights/iwd/
Oxford: Faculty of Music presents a special concert: https://www.ticketsoxford.com/whats-on/all-shows/international-womens-day-concert/8266
The School of Electronic Music is joining forces with Manchester based collective Queen Bees to curate a week of free events and workshops for women. https://www.schoolofelectronicmusic.com/international-womens-day-2018/
Nottingham: Join Cultural Vibrations founder Rastarella at The Maze on Thursday 8th March for her International Womens Day creative showcase.This year’s theme is #PressforProgress so on the line up you will be inspired by local creative females leading the way for other women to make their mark in the creative industry. Creative Energies performing on the night include DJ PRINCESS, LYTISHA, IAMSTARZ, AMIE CHERRY, BELLY DANCE WORLD Expect good vibes, live music & dance, spoken word, stalls plus much more. http://www.themazerocks.com/gig/cultural-vibrations-celebrates-international-womens-day-2018
A month-long programme of activities to mark and celebrate International Women’s Day 2018: http://soundandmusic.org/projects/international-womens-day-2018
British Music Collection: Throughout the month of March, in support of International Women’s Day 2018, Sound and Music is showcasing incredibly talented women in music, celebrating female composers both past and present, with a different profile featured every day. https://britishmusiccollection.org.uk/article-category/international-womens-day-campaign
Hull: ‘Let Me Fly’ is a celebration of music and song to mark International Women’s Day, inspired by the indomitable spirit of flying heroine Amy Johnson in her home town Hull, City of Culture 2017. It will feature local renowned Yorkshire singer/songwriters Paula Ryan, Katie Spencer and Ali Bullivent.-Special guests will include Hull’s Heartsong and a live web link to India with Ranjani Mahesh singing and playing the traditional veena. https://www.hull2017.co.uk/whatson/events/let-fly-celebration-international-womens-day/
Check out Yegna: a group that supports women’s rights using music influenced by Ethiopian heritage is thriving – despite losing UK aid funding. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/mar/05/ethiopian-girl-band-yegna-shake-off-spice-girls-tag
9 March 2018 Women For Refugee Women’s drama group perform their songs and poetry at the Women of the World festival, 2.30pm Riverside Terrace Cafe, Royal Festival Hall, London. Show support in solidarity with the Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers: https://www.allwomencount.co.uk
If you missed Sunday’s Radio 3 programme A Portrait of Val Wilmer on the life of the celebrated journalist, photographer, and historian of Black music you can still catch it on iPlayer https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09tcdx9.
If you know of an event you think WLMA could publicise, please get in touch!
Lots of IWD events can be found via womensgrid: a free service to help information by and about women and women’s groups to be shared between interested women and women’s groups. http://www.womensgrid.org.uk
If you’re in London this Saturday hope to see you on the march! http://www.millionwomenrise.com
‘As a political weapon, it has helped me for 30 years defend the rights of American blacks and third-world people all over the world, to defend them with protest songs. To move the audience to make them conscious of what has been done to my people around the world.’
– Nina Simone
Listen up! Don’t miss this BBC Radio 3 programme at 18.45 on 4th March, then available on iPlayer https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09tcdx9. A Portrait of Val Wilmer documents the life of the celebrated journalist, photographer, and historian of Black music. Contributors include publisher and broadcaster Margaret Busby, percussionist Andrew Cyrille, writers Paul Gilroy and Richard Williams, Val’s co-worker at Melody Maker in 1969, and Val’s brother Clive Wilmer.
This marks the republication of Val Wilmer’s groundbreaking book, the 1977 classic As Serious As Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957–1977, ‘the story of how a generation of revolutionary musicians established black music as the true vanguard of American culture. Placing the achievements of African-American artists in their broader political and social context … Wilmer evokes an era of extraordinary innovation and experimentation that continues to inspire musicians today.’ The book includes a chapter on women’s role that has been acknowledged as a pioneering move in gender studies.
Out on March 1st and available as paperback and ebook direct from the publisher, Serpent’s Tail. You can pre-order a copy now: https://serpentstail.com/as-serious-as-your-life-pb-7837.html
‘This book saved me from giving up. Even though the jazz musicians Wilmer wrote about were mostly male, their approach to music making, their passion and their activism resonated with me and showed me a way to move forward musically.’ – Viv Albertine
We congratulate Val, valued friend of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive, on her achievements.
See more on this amazing woman and her work over 50 years, including this 1973 interview by Rosie Parker in Spare Rib:
|A reminder of a great gig happening next week at the Vortex, Thursday 15 February.
Claudia Lang-Colmer, Crissy Lee & Ann O’Dell (Ivy Benson Reunion band) come to ‘Swing the Vortex’
These legendary musicians are joined by special guest Alyson Cawley on tenor sax.
The Reunion Band played at the last two Celebrations of what would have been Ivy Benson’s 100th and 101st birthday.
Friday 9 March The Old Church, Stoke Newington Church Street. Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day with one of the ‘world’s greatest cabaret singers’ Barb Jungr plus Solar Flares BOOK NOW www.blowthefuse.com
Great to see fab musician and friend of the WL Music Archive Stef Petticoat featured in today’s Guardian – thanks to Angie of Amy and the Angels for drawing our attention to it!