Throughout the last year, the sisters from the Catwalk4Power movement used their creativity to design fashion objects and apparel with messages. Their catwalk performances have left viewers from London to Brighton and Manchester buzzed and in awe. As you probably know by now, their success has been transferred into a toolkit – a creative guide for community groups who want to replicate the C4P model. More recently, Cosmic Fox films has documented their experiences in this beautiful short film.
We met half of the Cosmic Fox Film duo, Wolf Newton, to talk about the C4P experience.
How did you hear about C4P movement and what drew you to the story?
Me and Cosmo (Fletcher, the other half of Cosmic Films) are interested in documenting untold stories. I came across a post about women living with HIV on the C4P Facebook page, and my instant reaction was to connect with them. What followed afterwards was a real eye opener. The mainstream perception about living with HIV has been shaped by the narratives of gay experiences dominating our media. I got to film during C4P performances at AIDS Impact Conference in London and in Manchester here I spoke to participating women. What struck me was the incredible sense of community spirit, and how they managed to transform – a difficult diagnosis – into a celebration of life, friendship and support.
Throughout filming, you got to spend time with participating women who have stepped out of their comfort zone to shout out loud I AM HERE. You must have seen their struggles, but also their powers and newly found voices and visibility. What were your thoughts on them?
When I think of the catwalk performers, I think of the incredible amount of love they were giving and receiving from each other. It really looked like night and day they would be there for each other. I felt an overpouring sense of community and friendship, but I could also see how brave and strong they were. These women had gone past shame and felt empowered to use their status as a statement to change perceptions about HIV. Having the courage to talk about HIV in a way not to be ashamed of is simply admirable.
What do you hope the public takes away after they see the film?
I think it is important to see women with HIV as women, just like all other women. HIV doesn’t define them, although it has clearly made them very strong. The catwalk performers are just a group of women coming together to support each other and grow together, while also having fun. I hope the film sheds a light on women with HIV.
How effective do you think HIV activism is in this present day? Is the message getting across outside of the LGBT community?
The popular narrative is definitely around gay men, they have had the attention and the funding. Their issues are known even outside the LGBT community, but with women, as with most things, issues are not explored – stigma, violence – we don’t talk about them; they are not public knowledge. The majority of people don’t know how HIV affects women and through our film we want to reach out and tell their story in a positive way that is empowering, rather than focusing on the stigma and the shame.
Describe the C4P movement in three words.
C4P is about feeling supported, it’s about love, and it’s about community.
Wolf Newton graduated from Bournemouth University in 2015, studying a Film Production Degree. Since then, he’s been working continuously in production and development in both TV, feature films and campaigns. Including ‘Swallows and Amazons’, and the BAFTA nominated feature documentary ‘McQueen’.
Wolf has directed several films and is also a freelance photographer and artist.
Cosmo Fletcher has been freelancing in the film and television industry since 2001, building up an extensive list of editing credits on feature films, drama series and documentaries for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. He has also directed and produced several promos and short films.
Wolf and Cosmo are now working together as co- directors under Cosmic Fox Films.
Together they have produced, directed and edited films for Sport England and AIDS Impact.
Cosmic Fox Films are currently producing films for Newham Council and Forgotten Ltd and also writing and directing an animation.