BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival – the UK’s leading LGBT film event today announces strong audience and box office growth as well as a marked increase in industry and filmmaker delegate numbers for its 30th edition.
The festival came to an end on Saturday 26 March with the Closing Night gala of Summertime, a bold and beautiful new French lesbian drama, and was followed by a day of catch-up screenings on Easter Sunday.
Screenings attendance at BFI Flare was up 9% and box-office results surpassed the previous, record-breaking year. Audiences at all events and screenings over the eleven day festival totalled 25,623 in 2016.
There was a substantial increase in accreditation, including 168 Visiting Filmmakers and over 300 Press and Industry delegates. An expanded industry offering included daily press screenings, alongside talks with an LGBT focus on development, production and distribution with speakers including Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behaviour) and a new series The Makers, with key international filmmakers Silas Howard (Transparent), Fenton Bailey (Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, RuPaul’s Drag Race) and Donna Deitch (Desert Hearts), and screenwriter Tom Rob Smith (London Spy).
Clare Stewart, Head of Festivals, BFI said:
“Increased audiences and a doubling of industry and filmmaker attendances demonstrate that BFI Flare in its 30th year is as vibrant as ever, and even more vital. This festival promotes the rich diversity and quality of international queer cinema while developing and celebrating the UK’s contribution to LGBT culture. Thanks to 10 years of support from our Principal Sponsor, Accenture, and fantastic programme partnerships such as the British Council on fiveFilms4freedom, BFI Flare is increasingly a beacon for LGBT cinema and rights around the world. The only thing expanding faster than this fabulous festival is our vision and ambition for it.”
For the second time BFI Flare and British Council made five short films available to audiences across the world as part of the groundbreaking #FiveFilmsforFreedom LGBT human rights initiative. The campaign was embraced worldwide, setting social media channels alight – figures outlining the campaign’s extraordinary worldwide audience reach will be released later this week.
Also now in its second year, the BFI Flare LGBT Filmmakers’ Mentorship programme, delivered with BAFTA and supported by Creative Skillset, announced a new cohort of six talented filmmakers who will be mentored by major industry figures such as BAFTA-winning filmmakers Abi Morgan and Iain Canning, Director of the BFI Film Fund Ben Roberts and Britdoc Foundation Director Beadie Finzi.
Highlights of BFI Flare in 2016 included Opening Night, World Premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square of The Pass, directed by first-time feature filmmaker Ben A. Williams. Appearing on the red carpet were cast members Russell Tovey, Arinze Kene and Lisa McGrillis; writer John Donnelly who adapted the film from his hit play first presented at the Royal Court Theatre; and its producer, Duncan Kenworthy. The Accenture Gala was the International Premiere of Holding the Man, which screened with writer Tommy Murphy and actor Kerry Fox in attendance.
Transform was a special series of workshops and panel discussions around transgender representation in film and television. An exhibition on Queer Film and Technology since 1986 was complemented by a dynamic discussion looking at the intersections between queer art, culture, science and technology, The Flare Queer Sci-Tech Lab with contributions from scientists and cultural commentators Qazi Rahman, Celia Roberts, Sophie Mayer, Nina Wakeford and Sharif Mowlabocus.
In two of the Festival’s most eagerly awaited lesbian events we delivered a unique world premiere of a work-in-progress Rebel Dykes, a UK documentary capturing the extraordinary achievements of a generation of radical feminist queers in the 1980s. Director Donna Deitch also attended a 30th anniversary screening of Desert Hearts, a rare outing for the classic, and the only lesbian film to screen in the first edition of the festival.
Actor Peter Wyngarde attended a screening of The Trial of Sir Roger Casement (1960) along with Casement biographer Jeffrey Dudgeon. Artist and filmmaker Duggie Fields was present for a screening of his own films alongside appearances in films by Derek Jarman, Andrew Logan and Jessye Bloomfield.
Films in the programme represented 30 countries covering global LGBT cultures including India, Pakistan, China, UK, Brazil, Mexico. Among the many other filmmakers in attendance were: Jacques Martineau and Olivier Ducastel (Theo and Hugo); Fenton Bailey (Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures); Tomer and Barak Heymann (Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?); Natalia Leite (Bare); Liesa Kovacs (Femme Brutal); Jayan Cherian (Ka Bodyscapes); Andrew Nackman (4th Man Out); Sasha King and Brian O’Donnell (Akron); Sudhanshu Saria (Loev); Joseph Graham (Beautiful Something); Andrew Steggall (Departure); Stephen Dunn (Closet Monster); Sophia Luvara (Inside the Chinese Closet); Shaleece Haas (Real Boy); Alden Peters (Coming Out); Philipp Karner (Like You Mean It); Antonio Centeno (Yes We Fuck!); Jack Walsh (Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer).
2016 also marked the 10th anniversary of Principal Sponsor Accenture’s support of the Festival.