Out at Clapham is the queer film club organised by the team at Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum and this Tuesday (26 Mar) they are screening a special Diana Ross film to mark the legendary diva’s 75th birthday. Dave Cross had a catch up with the Forum chair and Out At Clapham host, David Robson to get the scoop.
Hi David, can you tell us what Out at Clapham is?
Out at Clapham is a monthly LGBT/Queer film club hosted at Clapham Picturehouse. It’s a joint initiative between the Picturehouse and Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum with a team of three behind it; myself, Dan Hawkins and Agnieszka Szara. All of our screenings have an LGBTQ theme and can vary from modern Hollywood to foreign cinema, documentaries and even cult classics.
How did it come about and how long has it been running?
In February of this year we turned five years old. We are the longest running queer film club in the entire Picturehouse chain and have screened 50 movies over that time. The first one was How To Survive a Plague back in November 2013 and it’s really just grown so much from there. Dan works really hard behind the scenes to ensure we have a rich diverse programme. I really don’t think there’s anything else quite like it out there. It’s always a very special event.
There’s more to your screenings than just showing the film?
I’d say we are a very open and friendly film club. You can arrive on your own and leave with some new found friends. Or you can come and go as you please. We’re just keen to fill the place with people who are passionate for film and for our community. There’s something rather special about watching a film as a shared experience especially where most of your audience is LGBTQ+. For me the best bit is not just watching the movie but the discussions that follow in the bar afterwards or before. You don’t get that opportunity with most other cinemas. That’s what makes Out at Clapham so unique – it’s a community event.
What’s been your favourite screening so far?
I knew you’d ask this, but it doesn’t make it any easier. We’ve had so many good ones. The Q&A with Nick Broomfield for Whitney: Can I Be Me was pretty amazing. But If I was pushed I would have to say the screening of Pride stands out. We did it as part of the Pride in London festival and we were lucky enough to have a Q&A with the producer David Livingstone and members of LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) following the screening. Halfway through the Q&A, unbeknown to me the director Matthew Warchhus was stood at the back. He was passing by and had seen the event on the boards outside. David recognised him and then I asked him to come up and join us. It was a really proud moment.
On Tuesday you have a very special screening, can you tell us about this?
The Boss, Miss Ross, that’s Diana Ross, turns 75 on March 26 and there’s a nationwide event to celebrate with a screening of a new documentary, Diana Ross Her Life, Love and Legacy. It focuses on the legendary 1983 free concert in Central Park, New York where Diana performed to 500,000 people, only for a massive storm to hit New York forcing her to cancel the gig. However, she returns the day after to finish what she started. A true star.
We’ve also got Son of a Tutu coming along to open the show for us. Like me, Tutu loves a diva and she’s one of the biggest so I simply had to ask her along to help celebrate.
What is it about Diana that makes her stand out as such as legend?
Before them all, there was Miss Ross. She set the standard of what we now know as the ultimate diva. I think people forget her incredible achievements. 18 US Billboard number ones, 12 with The Supremes and six solo. The Supremes were not just a fluffy girl group, they were quite political. By being a part of the Motown sound they were able to to get into white America’s front rooms, they paved the way for others to follow and she kept on breaking down those doors even after leaving the Supremes. Did you know she was the first African-American actress to receive an Academy Award nomination for a debut film performance. and the first since Dorothy Dandridge in 1954 to be nominated for Best Actress? She’s the boss!
Can you tell us your favourite Diana tracks?
The Boss has to be one of my favourite tracks of all time. It never gets old. What else? Love Hangover, Gettin’ Ready for Love, I’m Still Waiting, Ain’t No Body’s Biznezz, Take me Higher, Chain Reaction and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, which I want played at my funeral.
What’s next for Out at Clapham?
We have just announced our Spring programme actually. So here’s an exclusive for you Dave, Monday April 8 – A Deal With The Universe plus Q&A with director Jason Barker. Saturday May 18 – Eurovision Song Contest 2019 and also in May – Rocketman, the Elton John film, date to be confirmed. More information on these screenings can be found on the Clapham Picturehouse website or on their social media.