DMU Pride: #BehindTheLens: In Conversation with Ash Kotak

Tuesday, February 28, 2023 Terrace Room Phoenix, Leicester

We are delighted to welcome playwright, filmmaker, journalist and activist Ash Kotak for a special In Conversation event with Claire Monk, Professor of Film & Film Culture, De Montfort University.


LGBT+ History Month’s UK-wide theme for 2023 is ‘Behind the Lens’, a celebration and reclamation of the offscreen contributions of LGBTQ+ people to film and cinema. #Behind TheLen’s featured figures include one of the greatest invisibilised LGBT+ movie figures of all: the legendary Indian-born producer Ismail Merchant (1936–2005) of Merchant Ivory Productions: the longest partnership in the history of cinema, possibly the first independent production company, and, uniquely, founded on a same-sex life partnership – between Merchant and the American director James Ivory. Ash Kotak knew Ismail personally. He will talk about Ismail and about Merchant Ivory’s bravest film: their mid-1980s decision to make the full-on, affirmative gay love story Maurice in an increasingly homophobic climate due to HIV and AIDS. Ash will also talk about his work leading the #AIDSMemoryUK campaign to establish a permanent AIDS memorial in central London, and about his own projects, including his new play Freddiebhai on his family relationship with Freddie Mercury.

Claire’s acclaimed audio commentary can be heard on the BFI’s 2019 Blu-ray release of Maurice, and she is one of very few UK scholars to have researched the film’s production and reception challenges in Ivory’s own archives.

This event is part of DMU Pride to mark LGBTQ+ History Month.

Please contact the DMU Events Office on if you have any questions.

PLEASE NOTE: Maurice (ticketed separately) will be screened after this event at 7.45pm. Please visit the Phoenix website for film details