Mavis! The Joyful Life of a Gospel Legend.

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Women’s History Month is taking place throughout March with multiple events happening at UWE. As part of the celebrations, third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly film reviews. The first in the series is Mavis! which documents the life of civil rights icon and blues singer, Mavis Staples, reviewed by Aoife Ranyell.

Shot from Mavis! Dir. Jessica Edwards. Dogwoof, 2015. [Description: A woman is standing on a stage looking at the crowd singing into a microphone. She has both arms in the air and is smiling.]

There is no better way to begin Women’s History Month than by showcasing a true power icon and legend of women’s music history. Directed by Jessica Edwards, Mavis! is a feel-good documentary focussing on the life and talent of the woman in question: rhythm, blues and gospel singer, lead vocalist in her family band The Staple Singers, inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and verbal civil rights activist, Mavis Staples.

Taking a chronological, first-person approach to retelling Mavis’s life and story, the 80-minute runtime tightly packs in decades’ worth of music and history: from her roots in church gospel singing, through her connection with Dr Martin Luther King, to where we can find her now. She is still performing and making her incredible soulful music, and at the point of release, Mavis had been touring for 60 years – she’s not your ordinary 82-year-old. Mavis’s warming, animated personality radiates through the screen and it’s very difficult not to be completely enamoured with her. Edwards intersperses charismatic interviews with footage from Mavis’s bellowing live performances (that will undoubtedly give you goosebumps), backstage recording sessions, and snippets of her private life – including a fleeting romance with a young Bob Dylan, and her electric friendship with the one-and-only Prince.

This confident documentary truly highlights the innate joy, passion and hope that Mavis generates in everyone she meets, and it’s no surprise that by the end of the film you are left feeling her good nature and powerful energy within you. As she says herself:

“I’m just doing what I’ve always done. Just trying to bring love and music to the people.”

Mavis Staples

And she certainly does that.

Further Viewing:

You can access the full list of events happening for Women’s History Month via the UWE Website.

A Melancholy Love Story in Happy Together – film review.

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For the final review in this series for LGBTQ+ History month 2022, Lydia Cooper provides a review of ‘Happy Together’ a film that follows a struggling queer relationship.


Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung) in a shot from Happy Together. Dir. Wong Kar-Wai, The Criterion Collection, 1997. [Description: A close-up film shot of a topless man who is covering his face with his arm. There is a mirrored reflection in the background.]

Wong Kar-Wai’s 1997 masterpiece Happy Together is a film about a gay couple from Hong Kong who have travelled to Buenos Aires but are kept apart by the conflict and toxicity of their relationship.

Wong Kar-Wai’s trademark style comes through with time lapses, snappy jump cut editing and repeated uses of song motifs throughout the film. Many of the scenes between Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung) and Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung) take place in the small room that Lai is renting and this tiny room and the building it is in, contain some of the best sequences in the film – the dancing scene in the kitchen is one of my favourite scenes of any film.

All the actors are great but the stand out is Tony Leung as Lai, who throughout the film is struggling with his relationship with Ho – which is filled with conflict and jealousy – and the loneliness and struggle of being a migrant without much money. Every performance in the film is organic but Leung’s in particular forms the emotional centre of the film.

Unlike a lot of films centring on queer couples Happy Together does not rely on stereotypes and shows the relationship between Lai and Ho with depth and detail. Despite the film being only just over an hour and a half long, we feel like we know them intimately. It’s also nice to see a film where the two main characters have genuine chemistry and the sexual tension throughout the film is palpable – making the progression of their relationship throughout the film even more heart-breaking and realistic.

Further Viewing on Kanopy:

Desert Hearts (1985) – Dir. Donna Deitch

Beau Travail(1999) – Dir. Claire Denis


Thank you to both Lydia Cooper and Aoife Raynell for this engaging series of film reviews for LGBTQ+ HM 2022, following the theme ‘Politics in Art: The Arc is Long’. If you have something you’d like to share, please let us know at edi@uwe.ac.uk.

‘Chocolate Babies’, Stephen Winter’s Forgotten AIDS Debut – film review.

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In honour of LGBTQ+ History month 2022, third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly reviews that capture this year’s theme of Politics In Art: ‘The Arc Is Long’. Next up is Aoife Ranyell’s review of ‘Chocolate Babies’.

Sam (Jon Kit Lee) and Max (Claude E. Sloan) in Chocolate Babies. Dir. Steven Winters, Frameline, 1995. [Description: A view from the back of a sofa with two people sitting on it. The individuals are looking at each other intently with their heads resting on their hands.]

For the LGBT+ community, the 1980s and ’90s will forever be associated with the HIV/AIDS epidemic – an immunodeficiency virus that alters the body’s ability to fight infection and disease. By 1993, over 2.5 million cases had been confirmed worldwide, and by 1995, given the lack of substantial response from the government, AIDS was the leading cause of death for Americans aged 25 to 44, disproportionately affecting the queer Black American population. In 1996, at the height of the epidemic, Chocolate Babies was released. 

Given the lack of narrative films focussed on HIV-positive, Black American minority LGBT+ communities in New York, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Chocolate Babies is a documentary. However, inspired by the New Queer Cinema movement and classic Humphrey Bogart movies, Stephen Winter wrote and directed his debut feature film as a drama. Chocolate Babies follows a group of loud queer activists – Max, Sam, Jamela, Larva (my personal favourite of the group), and Lady Marmalade – as they inflict war against the city’s conservative politicians who are failing to act in response to the AIDS epidemic that is destroying their community and their loved ones. The story not only highlights the epidemic taking place, but also addiction, abortion, religion, alcoholism, and fears of coming out, producing a raw and honest portrayal of inner-city life for the LGBT+ communities at the time.

Despite premiering at the 47th Berlin International Film Festival in 1997, Chocolate Babies never received full distribution and has been mostly forgotten in the world of queer cinema – it had never crossed my radar before now. It’s a huge shame because the film’s unique and transgressive style and point of view make for an absorbing and powerful film, one that will definitely pull on your heart, and has certainly expanded my perspective on the events of the 90s.

Further Viewing & Reading

Queering the Canon: BIOPIC NYC. Chocolate Babies Q&A with Stephen Winter.

The Early Days of America’s AIDS Crisis, by Tim Fitzsimons

I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me? A Spotlight on the Papua New Guinean trans community – film review.

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In honour of LGBTQ+ History month 2022, third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly reviews that capture this year’s theme of Politics In Art: ‘The Arc Is Long’. This week, Lydia Cooper provides a film review of ‘I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me?’, directed by Tim Wolff.


Films about the transgender community are few and far between and often made without the involvement of, or respect for, the community. Films about trans people outside Europe and the US are even more rare so I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me?, a documentary about the LGBTQ community in Papua New Guinea, is particularly refreshing.

Shot from the film I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me? dir. Tim Wolff, First Run Features, 2020. [Description: an image of a band performing on a stage. There are five band members in total, from left to right there is a keyboard player, guitar player, two singers in the middle and another guitarist. ]

I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me?, centres on the late singer and activist, Moses Moshanty Tau, and the wider LGBTQ+ community in Papua New Guinea. As demonstrated by the statistics at the start of the film, Papua New Guinea is an incredibly dangerous place to be a woman, and trans women are even more at risk of discrimination, homelessness and violence.

Director Tim Wolff intercuts between Moshanty’s music videos, usually shot on beaches, and her discussing her career. The best scenes are when Moshanty and her friends are in the back of a truck going to Hula Village – a more accepting part of the country. These segments are a warm, light-hearted break from some of the more harrowing aspects of the film, as this space acts as a welcoming and accepting one, isolated from the rest of the country.

Moshanty and other members of the LGBTQ community also discuss the discrimination that trans women face in Papua New Guinea and this is highlighted about twenty minutes in, with a trans woman being attacked in the street. It’s not particularly violent but it is uncomfortable and forces you to remember the hostile environment these women are living in. Although Moshanty is respected as an artist she is repeatedly misgendered throughout the film and explicitly referred to as a gay man by her mother, a reminder that even though people are willing to accept some members of the LGBTQ+ community in Papua New Guinea they are still unaccepting of trans people.

I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me? is not only a great documentary about an artist mostly unknown outside of their home country but also an eye-opening look into the trans community of Papua New Guinea that is equal parts sad, funny and hopeful.

Further Viewing on Kanopy:

Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger(2014) – Dir. Sam Feder

The Journey of Mona Lisa (2019)Dir. Nicole Costa


‘Dykes, Camera, Action! – A Celebration of Lesbians on Screen’- film review.

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In honour of LGBTQ+ History month 2022, third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly reviews that capture this year’s theme of Politics In Art: ‘The Arc Is Long’. Next up, Dykes, Camera, Action! – A Celebration of Lesbians on Screen by Aoife Ranyell.


Women have always been marginalised within the filmmaking world – struggling to find a voice or a break in the male-dominated landscape. For lesbian and queer women, this is even more true. Although, thanks to a trailblazing group of female filmmakers and the 90’s New Queer Cinema movement, queer women have used their voices and made themselves visible.

Dykes, Camera, Action! is American filmmaker, Caroline Berler’s, first ever feature-length documentary film, showcasing the history of lesbian and queer cinema, told by the pioneering women who made it happen. Barbara Hammer, Cheryl Dunye, Yoruba Richen, Rose Troche, Desiree Akhavan, and many more, sit down and tell insightful first-hand stories of their lives and what motivated them to get involved with film – whether that was the social and political climate of the time, or frustration of not seeing accurate representation of queer identities on screen.

At its core, this is simply a very comforting and encouraging film to watch. The 61-minute runtime flies by and, to be honest, I could’ve easily watched another whole hour of it. If you’re already well-versed in the world of lesbian cinema, this film will reveal nothing ground-breaking, but it is still a very valuable watch and an excellent entry point to the genre if you’re new. It is so heartening to see women unapologetically talking about and celebrating the things that they love and enjoy: filmmaking, the queer films they love and hate, art, social activism, and (of course) other women. I recommend getting your notes app on hand (or a pen and paper, if you’re old school) to make note of the various films that they talk about.


Kanopy Further Viewing:

UWE LGBQT+ History Month event: Screening of Rebel Dykes (2021) at Arnolfini on 19 February 2022, open to UWE staff and students.

LGBTQ+ History month film recommendations

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In honour of LGBTQ+ History month starting today, third-year BA Film Studies students Lydia Cooper and Aoife Ranyell, are providing a series of weekly reviews that capture this year’s theme of Politics In Art: ‘The Arc Is Long’. First up is Lydia Cooper’s review of Caravaggio (1986).

Shot from the film, Caravaggio, dir. Derek Jarman, British Film Institute, 1986. [Description: A person sitting gazing into the distance with a dark backdrop. They are wearing a white top with their shoulder exposed and they are holding different fruits and leaves in their arms.]


January 31st would’ve been the pioneering queer filmmaker Derek Jarman’s 80th birthday, and with this in mind I re-watched his 1986 film Caravaggio.  Caravaggio was the first film of Jarman’s I saw and it’s still my favourite because, despite not having the outwardly political themes or avant-garde quality of some of his other films, Caravaggio’s style, aesthetic and character add together to make a perfectly composed film on queer art and history.

Caravaggio is an important film in British queer cinema because of its unapologetic portrayal of a historical figure in same-sex relationships. There has been much debate about Caravaggio’s sexuality, so for Jarman to show him as openly queer, without relying on subtextual homoeroticism, was (and, in some ways, still is) ground-breaking.

The film follows Caravaggio (Nigel Terry) as he reflects on his life as a young artist during the Italian Renaissance. The cinematography and framing are spectacular, making the film look like a prolonged series of paintings, bringing Caravaggio’s paintings to life and enriching them with the emotions of the film. Although the film doesn’t contain much dialogue and has a slightly slower pace, the beautiful colour palette evokes everything that extra words could not. The film is filled with striking reds, glistening golds and melancholy blues and purples, depicting the feelings of passion, religion, death, love, sex, loneliness and isolation shown throughout the film, and Caravaggio’s life. Jarman blends the past and the present to create a queer classic that evokes equal parts art, politics, desire and passion while breaking conventional film form to create a more radical take on the classic historical film.

All reviewed films are available to stream via Kanopy, where as a UWE Bristol student your membership is free.

Further viewing on Kanopy

Jubilee (1978) – Dir. Derek Jarman

Wittgenstein (1993) – Dir. Derek Jarman

Finally, if you have an EDI or Health and Wellbeing story to tell, please do get in touch at edi@uwe.ac.uk as we welcome contributions from all staff and students for our blog.

Taking pride in our campus 

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by Grace Biddulph, EDI Coordinator, EDI Team.

UWE contractor adds colour to Frenchay campus with Pride walkway  

Painter and decorator, Martin Clark, pictured above with Frenchay campus pride walkway.

Staff at UWE are always looking to integrate equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) into all aspects of our campuses. This may be through events, working groups, networks or through our physical environment that shapes the way we, as a community, promote an inclusive culture. Our working environment is connected to wellbeing and can be an opportunity to demonstrate allyship with under-represented groups. 

The Estates and Facilities teams, who are largely responsible for our working environment, are an essential part of embedding EDI into our campuses and were the catalyst for the new EDI champions programme. The programme originated with estates and facilitates, who meet monthly to discuss how to promote EDI within the service. The programme has now been scaled up to be university-wide, and EDI champions are currently being trained in most UWE professional services (staff only link). 

The latest EDI achievement of estates and facilities is the Pride walkway, located near E block on Frenchay campus, which has been refreshed this month. Each archway now represents a colour of the Pride rainbow flag, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. The archway is used by hundreds of staff and students daily, and the new colours are a great example of how physical spaces can be used to promote positive messaging.  

Painter and decorator, Martin Clark, who was the inspiration behind the new Pride flag walkway provides his reflections below and discusses how his idea to paint the walkway has contributed to creating a vibrant, and welcoming community.  

Please tell us your name, pronouns and role working with UWE.  

Martin Clark, he/him, I am a fully qualified painter & decorator. 

How long have you been working with UWE?  

I have been working on the UWE contract for GRAHAM FM for just over four years. 

Please let us know how the colour change came about, from white to the rainbow flag.

We (GRAHAM FM) were given instructions to refresh the walkway from E Block to the existing white colour as the existing paintwork was flaking and looking weathered. Whilst sanding down and preparing the posts to repaint, I thought the area would be received well if it was brightened up as when my work was done, nobody would have necessarily noticed the refreshed paint back to white, which would have been a shame as a lot of hard work and effort goes into this type of works. 

What inspired you to paint the arches in the rainbow flag colours? 

Our Contract Manager Nick Brown is always looking to support the core values that underpin Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity and has involved our GRAHAM team to share these values wherever possible or when the opportunity arises. I thought in this case, this would be a great opportunity to showcase the colours of the Pride rainbow in this area where a great deal of people will walk past, evidence, raise awareness and maybe start conversation. 

Please do take a minute to admire our new pride walkway and thanks to Martin for his creativity in adding colour to our campus. 

Finally, if you have an EDI or Health and Wellbeing story to tell, please do get in touch at edi@uwe.ac.uk as we welcome contributions from all staff for our blog.  

The Inclusive University Blog welcomes new EDI posts

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By Laura O’Brien, Reporting and Communications Manager, EDI Team

The last year has been an exciting one for EDI and Health & Wellbeing developments at UWE. In EDI we listened to feedback from staff and students and combined this with a deep analysis of data to identify three EDI priorities for 2023 (Bridging the Awarding Gap, Speak Up, and Staff Inclusion & Diversity), underpinned by the platform of Building Trust.

A key metric for the university is the awarding gap between different groups of students who are achieving a Good Honours degree, compared to those who are not.  The ethnicity awarding gap is the largest of the awarding gaps at UWE Bristol, so we are prioritising reducing this gap by a third by 2023, but we aim to eliminate all awarding gaps by 2030.

In 2019/20 UWE’s awarding gap between White and Black students was 31pp (percentage points), and this has reduced to 28.7pp this year. We remain above the sector average but the hard work of colleagues across the university has seen big improvements in many areas. We have been working with colleagues across the University to ensure everyone understands the experiences behind the award gap and develop actions to ensure parity of experience and outcome across all groups of students. The awarding gaps guide provides information and resources to address the awarding gap, and colleagues can ideas and resources in the awarding gap community of practice.

In addition to this, all of our faculties and the Professional Services now have well-established action plans, and regularly report on the progress of these plans to the EDI Committee (EDI Committee papers are available for all staff to view). Recruitment for EDI Champions is underway, and the first training sessions are being developed.

In Health and Wellbeing, we’ve developed an annual student roadmap and staff action plan to make sure we’re taking a whole university approach. We signed up to the University Mental Health Charter in July 2020 to improve support for staff and student mental health, and will be submitting an application before the summer. A large number of initiatives have been successfully delivered with many activities moving online, such as Feel Good, our Social Prescribing programme Living Well, and online provision from Wellbeing, Disability, Student Support, Careers and Study Skills, the SU, and the Centre for Music and Centre for Sport.

The Inclusive University blog (along with the Health and Wellbeing blog) will help us to share EDI and Health and Wellbeing work across the university and we welcome contributions from all staff. We’d love to hear about any work you’ve completed, future plans, upcoming events, and engagement activities. Let us know about any EDI or Health and Wellbeing initiatives which are currently running or being planned across the university. The Inclusive University blog is also the place for sharing ideas about what inclusive practice looks like for you in your day to day and reflecting on past events or learning.

If you have something you’d like to share, please let us know at edi@uwe.ac.uk.

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