‘Rebel Dykes’ producer Siobhan Fahey shares how the project came to life

Documentary Rebel Dykes is getting a lot of attention at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival which opened on Saturday.

OUTinPerth chatted to producer Siobhan Fahey (not the Bananarama singer) about how the project that captures the lives of lesbian women in post-punk 80’s London came together.

Rebel Dykes began life as oral history project with Fahey collecting stories from friends she known in the mid-1980s.

“It came from an oral history project about my youth.” Fahey said. “I always knew we had a really special time and everything was great, and I was always looking for a book or article but nobody ever wrote about it. So I went to collect some oral history of it and then did a performance.”

When filmmakers Harri Shanahan and Sian A. Williams encountered the project they proposed it would make a perfect documentary film. The project has been a labour of love for the team as its taken six long years to bring the finished film to the screen.

The film creatively transports you to the period with a combination of archival footage, recreations and animation. Fahey says when they first began working together there were lots of discussions about how to capture the era.

“At the beginning we talked about things like shiny black PVC materials, and textures and photocopies. Obviously you can see the artistry that has gone into the animation and the archive and the recreation.

Through reaching out to old friends and acquaintances the film makers were able to access archival footage and audio recordings of protest rallies, club nights and private parties from a time when the women were living in squats, forming bands and putting on club nights.

“It ended up being a bigger story that I knew.” Fahey said of the process of collecting stories. “These were people I thought I knew, they were people I’d hung out with and gone to clubs with, but I didn’t know their stories. They were brilliant.”

In a time before mobile phones and social media, Fahey highlights that socialising and attending political events were the only way you could meet new people.

“We’d all meet at demonstrations, it’s the only way you would meet new people and then find out where the parties were. You had to go to ‘the demos'”.

Intermixed with the stories and observations is a soundtrack of DIY-punk tunes which Fahey said were interesting to track down, because they were created outside of the world of record labels with people putting out their music on homemade cassettes.

“It was really hard for women to get a deal on a record label in those days, so at least half the music is just from people’s music on just cassettes. They’d recorded them in their kitchens and we re-mastered them to use in the film.”

Listing off the bands featured in the documentary Fahey name checks The Sluts from Outerspace, The Poison Girls, Mouth or Mighty, Steph Petticoat and Amy and the Angels as a few of the artists featured in the film.

Rebel Dykes screens as part of the Revelation Film Festival that runs from 1 – 11 July at Luna, Leederville. Rebel Dykes will screen 6.45pm on Sunday 4 July and 8.15pm on Saturday 10 July.

Graeme Watson 

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