With BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival now under way, here are four documentaries that you won’t want to miss. Each tackles a fascinating area of LGBT life, unearthing romantic, political and cultural topics that we rarely get to hear about.
If you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship and experienced the longing it can cause, consider Out of Iraq, the story of Nayyef Hrebid and Btoo Allami, who met while working as a translator and soldier respectively. After a shy courtship, they fall in love, only to be torn apart by a rapidly disintegrating political situation. When Nayeff receives a visa to the US, what follows is heart-stopping bravery as they try to get Btoo away from his increasingly suspicious family and the warzone that threatens his life.
The stakes are just as high, though in a different way, in Out Run, which charts the story of the Philippines’ – and the world’s – first LGBT-specific political party. Fronted by the brave and charismatic Bemz Benedito, who dreams of being the first transgender woman in congress, this tiny party makes a heroic attempt to mobilise those on the margins. They are spurred largely by the image of beauticians and hairdressers marching to claim their place in history, and this is revealed to be both visionary and politically naive, prompting reflection on what it means to change the world around us. For anyone who has considered political campaigning, or indeed is knee deep in the struggle for equality, Out Run is a gentle reminder to keep asking those difficult questions.
This chimes well with Pride?, a thoughtful, relevant and deeply intelligent documentary charting the history of the march and speculating on its future. Director Ashley Joiner provides a clear-headed analysis of Pride as an institution and reveals it to be a many-layered thing – one that is both expanding and contracting as various factions recreate it in their own image.
The title might be a cheeky reference to the 2014 British film Pride, which was unequivocal in its praise of the unity and vision shown between lesbians and gays supporting the miners in the 1980s. Pride? is more in the spirit of Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, a newer, rougher incarnation of the politics of solidarity. Be among the first to catch this film, screening as a work in progress that already shows much promise as a genuine enquiry into the future of our community.
Finally, you don’t want to miss Waiting for B, a bright, sunny piece about young Brazilians who decide to camp outside the venue Beyoncé will be playing at in two months. A combination of bitchy competitiveness and total melt-in-your-mouth sweetness, this is a portrayal of youth at its finest: romantic, wholehearted and a little bit cray-cray in pursuit of the ultimate night out. We are treated to dance routines, cute DIY costumes and the unfettered, unbridled, unashamed energy of being young, free and in love with the biggest superstar in the world.