I am really happy to share this interview, during pride month, with Naomi Bennett, founder of the Lesflicks. Lesflicks is an independent, lesbian owned, volunteer run video streaming platform and website. They are fully dedicated to help create, distribute and showcase lesbian, bi and queer films.
There is a very real lack of representation and a very dominant male gaze in the film industry and it is brilliant to see how some passionate people are working to change that!
Who is Naomi Bennett, the woman behind Lesflicks?
I am the CEO & Founder of Lesflicks, a global streaming platform, film database, events and community website dedicated to 100% women loving women content featuring lesbian & bisexual stories and characters. It is the combination of my existing knowledge of the LBTQ+ community and my experiences and passion around film. I have always been one with grand ideas! Nothing is impossible… I am dedicated to film, women, and getting film to women! I have spent the better part of my adult life trying make sure us queer women are getting the representation we rightfully deserve, both through Lesflicks and previously through Planet London/Planet Nation. My extensive collection of lesbian interest films on DVD should tell you that, if my wonderful pride-themed rainbow eyeshadow doesn’t already.
What is the biggest impact on what you do?
I am proud to be increasing the number of films that LBTQ+ women are aware of. When women see authentic stories on their screen, it helps them to feel more seen, understood and less alone. For women exploring or unsure about their sexual orientation these films can be life changing. You can’t be what you can’t see – and if all you see is women in the early twentieth century or earlier where the women were not able to be themselves or their relationships were focused around a male partner; this doesn’t help women to realise that they can be happy, healthy and part of a community. The films made by LBTQ+ women, for LBTQ+ women are authentic, true and much more impactful – but these stories rarely get fully distributed or promoted.
What has been your biggest learning since you started?
I’ve realised that it isn’t just a case of putting the films in front of the audience. There is a much deeper problem that goes right back to funding these films. The perceived lack of a paying audience prevents adequate funding and distribution; so as well as talking about these films, and where possible streaming them to the audience; we also need to work on amplifying the voices of, and connecting the LBTQ+ community so that we can show that we are by no means small, or niche and that even if we are a smaller demographic than the mainstream; we are more loyal, engaged and supportive and so a viable audience (if a little hard to reach!).
What is the goal? The big vision of what you would like to achieve?
I want to empower, educate and amplify the voices and achievements of women! We are strong, powerful and intelligent and if we work together, believe in ourselves and ignore those trying to hold us back we can achieve great things!
And this is the feminist questionnaire identical for everyone
What is Feminism for you?
It is being proud of who you are as a woman and celebrating and using your assets as a woman.
Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?
So many. Being paid differently, having to act differently, the different language used to describe driven men and women. Why is a woman aggressive but a man is driven?
Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?
Feminism is something I struggled with when I was younger because of the negative connotations and portrayals in the media. I realised however that I am an accidental feminist because I’m driven by my community and by collaboration and that through this drive I am working to improve the lives for those women, which is a form of feminism!
Who is your biggest feminist role model?
I don’t think I have one. I’m not really one for putting people on pedestals and looking up to people as different to others.
What is your favourite Feminist quote?
I don’t have one that I would class as specifically feminist, but I probably should! My favourite quote is Teamwork makes the dreamwork.
What is your proud feminist victory?
I’ll tell you when I achieve it!
What is your feminist recommendation?
- Book: I’m not a big reader so I’m not sure!
- tv show: Station 19/Greys Anatomy. This show really works hard to put across strong messages around inequality of women, LGBTQ+ people and BAME people in a way that is educational but not in your face. TV has great power in changing minds and educating through entertainment.
- Film: Forever Not Maybe; this film is a great portrayal of successful women who have a career they love and have to balance this with a relationship.
What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?
Be yourself, but don’t allow others to treat you differently or walk all over yourself. Don’t listen to the rhetoric that is designed to separate and segregate women. We are stronger together!