The 27th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (LLGFF) is back at BFI Southbank, London with a festival of 11 days and a new look programme that’s packed full of films, special guests, events, workshops, and music (14 – 24 March 2013). The full programme is now available here.
Opening Night is a new documentary, I Am Divine, about the life and legend of the extraordinary actor, drag queen, performer and singer, born Harris Glen Milstead in Baltimore but known to the wider world as Divine.
New for this year’s festival, the programme is divided into three easily navigable sections: Hearts; Bodies; and Minds – and you’ll find shorts, feature-length drama or documentary, events or archive classics across each section.
There are over 100 titles in the festival, offering a dizzying variety of films reflecting the LGBT community around the world. Highlights include James Franco’s Interior. Leather Bar., hot from the Sundance Film Festival; Oscar-nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague; and there’s a powerful account of LGBT life in Jamaica in Taboo Yardies. There are sexual antics among Australian lesbians in Submerge, youthful lesbian desire in Mosquita y Mari, or indy girl rockers in She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column.
As London braces itself for the V&A’s new Bowie exhibition, We Love David Bowie is an evening devoted to the chameleon of rock, with an illustrated lecture and a rare screening of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars followed by an after party. There are events and screenings about Pier Paolo Pasolini (subject to a major retrospective at BFI Southbank March/April) and Chantal Akerman, live accompaniment to Nazimova’s Salome (1923), trans animators and musicians Rae and Spoon present Gender Failure, and much more.
The LLGFF’s Opening Night screening of I Am Divine will be the European premiere following the world premiere a few days earlier at SXSW. Divine became notorious for his appearances in John Waters’ early films and this is a fascinating account of a larger than life, queer icon of the cinema, with contributions from a large cast of friends, colleagues, actors and, most notably, Divine’s mother. Director Jeffrey Schwarz also made the inspiring documentary about AIDS activist and film historian Vito which was in last year’s festival.
The festival’s Closing Night film is a heart-warming Canadian drama called Margarita about the dilemmas facing an attractive young Mexican nanny who has a complicated love life and a host family who adore her but can’t afford to keep her. It underlines the human issues around immigration and offers an insight into the emotional life of a bright young lesbian with lots of heart.
The festival welcomes back as Principal Sponsor, Accenture (rightfully celebrating their recent award as Stonewall’s Employer of the Year in the annual survey of the UK’s top 100 employers). The Accenture Gala screening will be Out in the Dark, a powerful love story from Israel set against the backdrop of political conflict.
Some key themes across this year’s festival are the documenting of the history of the AIDS crisis and its activism in films such as the Oscar-nominated How to Survive a Plague and United in Anger: A History of ACT-UP; and the importance of preserving historical memory and older people’s place in our community is highlighted in a rare documentary where older French LGBT people have a voice in Les Invisibles directed by Sebastien Lifshitz, or in Jeremy Jeffs & Mark Ravenhill’s celebration of activist-actor-legend in Bette Bourne: It Goes with the Shoes.
The position of trans people and the many varieties of trans experience are strongly represented with a range of powerful documentaries and dramas such as I Am a Woman Now, starring April Ashley and the first generation of trans women to undergo the journey to Casablanca for sex reassignment surgery.
Hearts is romance, love and friendship where you’ll find films that are warm and emotional.
Hearts features the award-winning Beyond the Walls, in which a one-night stand between two men develops into a love story that becomes a rollercoaster of emotions. Bwakaw has an unforgettable grumpy gay septuagenarian Philippino man with a dog who learns some important lessons about how to live in later life.
Three films from Korean director Leesong Hee-il, the feature White Night and two mini-features Going South and Suddenly, Last Summer confirm him as one of the most exciting Asian gay directors working today and underline the early promise of his debut feature No Regret (LLGFF2007). Mosquita y Mari is a wonderfully tender and well realised tale of lesbian coming-of-age set in the Chicana neighbourhood of Huntingdon Park, LA. Route of Acceptance is a playful account of the implications of life choices for an 18 year old out and proud and heading for university.
Thick Relations is a semi-improvised slice-of-life from contemporary queer Chicago featuring real people playing character versions of themselves as they negotiate open relationships. David Ross (former member of much loved 90s boyband Bad Boys Inc) produced and stars in I Do, a drama about an English ex-pat in New York who is forced to make some difficult life choices as he faces deportation when his job runs out but his emotional and physical ties in his adopted home seem too strong to let go.
Bodies is about sex, identity and transformation with films that focus on the physical and the sexual.
Hot from the Sundance Film Festival and Berlin, Interior. Leather Bar. is an intriguing project directed by James Franco and Travis Matthews which starts off from the proposition of attempting to recreate the famously lost footage from William Friedkin’s Cruising.
Intersexion puts a spotlight on the people who identify as intersex. Mr. Angel explores the life of the transman pornstar and self-styled “man with a pussy” Buck Angel. Burn is our third edition of Ben Walters’ programme of new work involving cabaret performers.
Man for a Day explores Diane Torr’s celebrated drag king workshops with a group of women who learn how to construct a masculine persona. Submerge is a sexily original film set in the world of competitive university swimming in which lesbian desires collide with drugs, fetish clubs and stolen girlfriends.
Minds is a celebration of films that reflect on or debate arts, politics and community (Or similar, but incorporating debate as well as reflection).
Molly’s Girl is a bittersweet comedy about realising what truly matters in life when a loveable but quirkily obsessive fantasist is brought down to earth. She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column is a fascinating documentary about a groundbreaking, queer feminist, all female, art band who rock Toronto’s Queercore scene in the late 80s and early 90s.
There’s a powerful account of LGBT life in Jamaica in Taboo Yardies. Lesbiana: A Parallel Revolution is a fascinating and inspiring account of the American feminist movement from the 1970s through to the 90s when separatism and sisterhood went hand in hand, while Born Naked offers a contemporary perspective on lesbian, queer and trans activists and their lives in Madrid, London and Berlin.
Archive screenings include the 50th anniversary screening of Joseph Losey’s The Servant in a new restoration from StudioCanal, which will launch the film’s rerelease in the UK looking forward to its release on DVD. A youth filmmaking workshop event takes a look back 30 years to the award-winning Framed Youth: Revenge of the Teenage Perverts (1983) with a new version made by contemporary young filmmakers.
Events include We Love David Bowie, a celebration presented in association with Bowiefest, of the bisexual genius who worked with many queer artists, with an illustrated lecture by author and novelist Rupert Smith. This is followed by a rare screening of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and a Bowie night party. All of this as London braces itself for Bowie fever and the opening of the V&A’s new Bowie exhibition.
1923 silent film Salome (which stars Alla Nazimova, a pivotal Hollywood lesbian) gets a new musical accompaniment improvised by Verity Sussman (Electrelane, Vera November) and the film is contextualised in two further films celebrating Nazimova: Salomania (2009, d. Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz) and Yvonne Rainer’s Lives of Performers (1972).
Performance artist Brian Lobel creates a celebration of music and dancing in your bedroom entitled Hold My Hand and We’re Halfway There, a six-hour marathon as he watches and dances to a stream of old musicals, in a recreation of his bedroom. There is also an education focus around Pier Paolo Pasolini and Chantal Akerman, with study events and screenings. And academics and programmers discuss the impact of Global Queer Space in an event supported by the AHRC.