DIVA chats to director Shana Myara all about her fat and fierce documentary
BY NADIA DAVIES
Shana Myara’s documentary focuses on fat and fierce babes in Canada who are using their creativity to clap back at a diet culture that seeks to shrink marginalised bodies. Interviewees all tell stories of struggle, self-actualisation and radicalisation, and taking back charge in a fatphobic, racist heteronormative society.
Describe your film in three words.
Chub rub club!
What inspired you to make the film?
I was done with feeling shamed for my body. Especially (in direct and indirect ways) in the queer community. I wanted to make a defiant, moving film that brought people around to understanding that a diversity of bodies is a beautiful thing.
What does screening at BFI Flare mean to you?
It means a lot! It’s extra special to be “found” by programmer Tara Brown who related so strongly to the film. Feels like one of the wonderful examples of a secret, supportive fat underground.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this story?
I hope the film finds people who need it. I want people to feel transformed and uplifted like I did after making it. Seeing well-rounded bodies celebrated on screen is a beautiful and liberating thing. Second, I hope people can unlearn a few things like I did when making it.
Why is it important that queer films and documentaries are showcased every year at an event like this?
We need events where being queer or trans is the norm. That’s how we can enter into more daring and revolutionary territory than what mainstream venues may know how to handle.
BFI Flare is completely online this year, giving everyone across the UK the opportunity to watch the amazing line-up of films available. How important is accessibility with regards to representation on screen?
Accessibility is a huge issue whether a festival is online or off. There are so many reasons why some of us may not feel comfortable entering spaces where we haven’t traditionally been included or have been deliberately excluded due to our race, what we can afford, how we think we’ll be treated, or whether, literally, we can fit in the seats – and the list goes on. An online festival is thrilling in some ways because of the geographical access it offers, and still this means you need to have a solid internet service and computer to access it. I love that the BFI is improving the captions for Well Rounded and providing described audio for people with visual impairment. This is even more impressive because they’re making these additions available wherever the film goes next.
What are your words of advice for any aspiring queer filmmakers/actors?
Don’t wait for anyone to ask you to make a film. Find a way to make your own project and get started.
Has the pandemic impacted you creatively?
Yes, it’s introduced me to a life with anxiety. I’m dealing with it with exercise and welcoming a big, wonderful, smelly dog into my life. As an introvert, I’ve also found that I have more energy to devote to my creative life. After many years, my first collection of short stories will be released in spring 2022 by the excellent publisher Biblioasis and by the editor/writer John Metcalf.
Who is your LGBTIQ+ screen hero?
Dee Rees, director of Pariah and Mudbound. Céline Sciamma, director of Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, Girlhood and Tomboy.
Other than buying tickets for BFI Flare, how can people best support independent queer media?
Watch it! Tweet about it warmly. Never be a troll.
Well Rounded plays as part of the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, 17-28 March. Subscribe to our YouTube channel now to see DIVA editor-in-chief Carrie Lyell in conversation with Shana and one of the film’s stars, Lydia Okello.
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