Documentary, 1 hr 22min
Log line: REBEL DYKES is a full-length documentary about the explosion that happened when punk met feminism, told through the lives of a gang of lesbians in the riotous London of the 1980s
Why just be a dyke, when you can be a rebel dyke?
As part of the 2021 BFI Flare programme, the long-awaited dyke-y documentary Rebel Dykes has finally made its debut on the silver screen, and this invaluable relic of queer history is a blessing and a gift to all dykes everywhere. Not only does this film make visible a moment in time that is immeasurably sacred and profound, it also puts a name and a face to those future generations of queers will forever be indebted to. Set in 1980s post-punk London, Rebel Dykes brings to light the stories of rebellion, sex, and anguish, that had previously been hidden away in memories and reminiscences. We are so lucky that Rebel Dykes is now immortalised on film among the greats, like Barbara Hammer and Derek Jarman, whose work encapsulated fragments of queer history that so easily could have been lost to the passing of time.
Compiled of a delicious smorgasbord of queer artistry, Rebel Dykes trophies a plethora of media, from animation and photography, to performance and music. Each element in its own way celebrating the infinite creativity that has always been intrinsic to dykes of divergence. It’s an incredible privilege to glimpse into the activism, bravery, and resilience that Rebel Dykes showcases in its leather-clad, celluloid preservation of the dykes that came before.
One thing particularly striking about the film is its references to contemporary society, as it seems many of the problems prevalent 30-40 years ago feel almost identical to the ones that exist today. Though it’s undeniable that Western society has become much more of a haven for people to be whoever they want to be, oppression from the government, rampant transphobia, and backlash from exclusionary radical feminism, continues to light a fire in the belly of queers whose rebellious heritage runs through their veins and glitters in the back of their eyes. The words perfectly verbalised by Karen Fisch (a.k.a Frankie Sinatra), remind us that, “We all stand on the shoulders of giants,” and the gigantic tour de force that was the Rebel Dykes, has pathed the way for anyone whose passion and love transcends the boundaries of that which tries to keep us silent.
But Finally, I want to conclude this review with a message to all Rebel Dykes: This is a solemn promise that you will never be forgotten. We will never forget what you did for us. Thank you.
Watch the trailer
This review was written by:
London-based Film Baby studying a film MA specialising in lesbian film.