12 years of GFEST – Gaywise FESTival ®

What is GFEST? 

GFEST is an annual LGBTQI+ arts festival. Taking place in the UK during November each year, GFEST is run by Wise Thoughts, a charity based in Haringey in north London. See the previous GFESTs programme details from 2007 onwards here.

As a festival, we curate and promote a programme of LGBTQI+ arts events, including dance, music, drag, film screenings, art exhibitions, debates, readings, comedy, and talks.

GFEST launched in November 2007 at City Hall and grew pretty quickly showcasing works of over a thousand of artists, filmmakers and practitioners over 12 years. The next three annual launch events (2008 to 2010) were held in the UK parliament, and received cross-party support. It has also enjoyed the backing of all three Mayors of London as well as various Cultural Secretaries, ministers, celebrities, and MPs. David Cameron also sent a message of support when he was the Prime Minister.

GFEST has its roots in the ‘Gaywise’ initiative, which ran from 2002 to 2007. For this, we organised bi-annual LGBT+ cross-arts workshops and residencies programme (some residencies lasting up to 10 weeks). At the end of each residency, we organised ‘sharing events’ or showcases. Several artists approached us for this, and it eventually grew into a fully-fledged festival.

We have since held events in venues including Museum of London, Tate Modern, National Gallery, the RSA, V&A, Rich Mix, University Arts London (UAL) and dozens more. Venue, sponsors, and community partners including Stonewall, UAL, University of Roehampton, BBC Film Network, K&L Gates, Magnum (Unilever), UBS, and NBC Universal supported the festival amongst several other organisations.

The 12th year GFEST took place from Monday 11 November. With the theme of #QueerQueeries, the festival generated provoking discussions around queer identity, what it means to be queer and different attitudes towards the term ‘queer’.

Take a look at GFEST 2019 programme here.

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Artistic director: Niranjan Kamatkar.  GFEST 2019 Showreel: