Matt Mead

Director of Photography
Camera Op
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Bender Defenders

2024, 25′

Four members of a queer martial art club “Bender Defenders” in East London get together to celebrate their existence through conversations about the beauty of anger, the importance of trans and non-binary people in sports and joy as the main tool of resistance.

In a time of increasingly polarised attitudes which threaten the safety of queer and trans communities, this documentary follows the story of the “Bender Defenders” queer martial art club in London, which provides new skills and a place of belonging to their members. Although everyone comes to martial classes for many reasons, they have one thing in common – the desire to create their own queer world where they feel accepted, appreciated and loved.

Through personal and political conversations, four members of the club introduce us to the challenges the queer sports community faces, give us insight into usually obscured forms of queer joy, and invite us to share feelings of unconditional comradeship and internalised anger. It shows how tenacity, kindness and care create enduring connections in a world stained by individualism and visceral hostility.

The film is intended to celebrate physical and mental strength, but also a tender and joyful exploration of friendship, closeness and intimacy.

Directed & Editor: Ira Putilova
Producer: Milo Beyts
DOP: Matt Mead 
2nd camera: Ezekiel Wallis
Colourists: Lee Twohey and Tom Alexander
Movement Director: Rob Hesp