Private Project

Fay Presto - Queen of Close-up

Fay Presto - Queen of Close-up" is a portrait documentary about the legendary Fay Presto; the UK’s most in-demand close-up and cabaret magician who would rather die on stage than quit performing. Influencing hundreds of magicians and making way for women in the magic world, Fay’s humour and brilliance have led her to perform for the Queen on six separate occasions as well as doing private magic shows in countless of celebrities’ homes. Now as she passes her 70th birthday, Fay reflects on gender roles and aging, and tries to make dark thoughts of retirement and death vanish, meanwhile doing a workshop for would-be magicians and astonishing the diners at the iconic London restaurant, The Langan's brasserie.

Perhaps Fay’s best magic trick was turning herself from Letitia Winter, a transgender woman, into Fay Presto, fabulous on-stage magician - and then making that transformation disappear from her life as an entertainer. It’s invisible in this documentary as well, though keen-eyed viewers might spot a few clues are hidden here and there.

  • Hanna Aqvilin
    Director
  • Michelle Cort
    Colourist
  • Jill Damatac Futter
    Production Assistant
  • Anders Hallsten
    Excecutive Producer
  • Hanna Aqvilin
    Editor
  • Hanna Aqvilin
    Cinematographer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    LGBTQ, Women, Ageing
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 3 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    Yes
  • Underwire Festival
    London
    United Kingdom
    November 25, 2017
    London premiere
    Nominated Best Editor
  • Glasgow Short film festival 2018
    Glasgow
    United Kingdom
    March 15, 2018
    Scottish
  • British Shorts
    Berlin
    Germany
    January 11, 2018
    German
  • Fringe Film Festival
    London
    United Kingdom
    November 18, 2017
  • Iris Prize
    Cardiff
    United Kingdom
    October 14, 2017
    Welsh
    Shortlisted Best British Short
  • Fastnet Film festival
    Schull
    Ireland
    May 26, 2017
    Irish
    Winner Best documentary
  • Women over 50 Film festival
    Brighton
    United Kingdom
    September 17, 2017
    Special commendation
  • Short Waves 2018
    Poznan
    Poland
    March 22, 2018
    Polish
  • The Learning on Screen Awards
    London
    United Kingdom
    Special commendation
Director Biography - Hanna Aqvilin

Hanna Aqvilin is a Swedish director, been living in New York and Buenos Aires, and since 2015 she is based in London.
She previously worked for Sweden’s Public Television, BBC, published articles in national press.

To find out more about her previous projects, visit her website: www.aqvilin.com

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Director Statement

As one of the first female magicians in an otherwise male-dominated field, she is nationally recognised for introducing the thrill of close-up magic to a UK audience in the 1970s. At the time, magic was typically presented on stage but Fay revolutionised the art form, bringing it into restaurants and performing her tricks in immediate proximity to guests.

When I first heard about Fay I immediately felt that she would be a great character for a documentary. Not only has she built and maintained an incredibly successful career but she is also widely admired for her cheeky humour and colourful personality.

Fay has long been suspicious towards journalists and it was difficult for me as a filmmaker to gain access when I first approached her. Throughout the years, she has experienced a lot of prejudices and the media has often pushed for stories relating to her gender – rather than exploring her remarkable journey as a magician. I wanted to make an honest and respectful portrait of Fay Presto without exploiting her or turning her life story into sensationalism. Therefore this documentary never forces Fay to defend her right to be a woman. It is time to look beyond gender!