The 34th edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival unveiled its full programme tonight at BFI Southbank. One of the world’s most significant and long-standing LGBTIQ+ film events, BFI Flare will present more than 50 features, 85 shorts and a wide range of special events, guest appearances, family-friendly and free events, club nights and more. Tickets go on sale via bfi.org.uk/flare to the general public on 27 February.
As previously announced, the Festival will open with the world premiere of Matt Fifer and Kieran Mulcare’s remarkable feature debut Cicada, about a young man forced to face past traumas when he embarks on a new relationship. The Closing Night Gala is the UK premiere of acclaimed theatre director Jessica Swale’s Summerland, a moving Second World War drama about a woman rediscovering her ability to love, starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
The Centrepiece Screening of the Festival is the UK Premiere of Disclosure, the latest documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Sam Feder. Absorbing and informative, providing a timely history lesson at the crossroads of change, the film features Laverne Cox at the helm and a cast of big hitters that include the Wachowski sisters and Chaz Bono.
Additional programme highlights include Jamie Patterson’s arresting sophomore feature Justine, which sees a young woman struggle with her demons in this powerful rumination on how the past can shape the present, Moffie, Oliver Hermanus’ beautiful yet brutal study of closeted homosexuality in the Apartheid-era military and Monsoon, Hong Khaou’s poignant meditation on cultural displacement featuring Henry Golding in a tender portrayal of a man endeavouring to reconnect with the place he once called home. With Don’t Look Down, Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau serve up a deliciously enigmatic chamber piece which is far more than just an exercise in style, but is also a sly critique on power, submission and the destructive side of love, while Claire Oakley’s debut feature Make Up is a riveting psycho-sexual drama in which nothing is quite what it seems.
Among the key themes emerging from this year’s programme are strong representations of activism, resistance and rebellion in stories about brave individuals and communities that will not give up in the ongoing fight for change.
- Lingua Franca (Dir. Isabel Sandoval), a deftly woven tale of love and inequality for an undocumented Filipina transwoman living under the radar in New York.
- BFI Flare Official Partners PGIM and Mishcon de Reya are supporting Changing the Game (Dir. Michael Barnett), a compelling account of the hard-won victories by Trans teenage athletes competing across America.
- Our Dance of Revolution (Dir. Phillip Pike), a documentary portrait of how skilful organising created a cohesive Black LGBTIQ+ movement in Toronto.
- Pride & Protest (Dir. Blaise Singh), opening with the anti-LGBTIQ+ lessons protests in Birmingham, the modern face of activism is the focus of this timely and necessary documentary.
- Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club (Dir. Eammon Ashton-Atkinson), an inspiring testament to the power of teamwork and friendship, this uplifting documentary will charm the (rugby) socks off you – whether you are a fan of the game or not!
- We Are the Radical Monarchs (Dir. Linda Goldstein Knowlton), activism is alive and well in this documentary portrait of a group of women who champion the importance of community, and this joyous film is full of hope and inspiration to see the next generation of fierce confident young women more than ready to take on the world.
- 2020 marks an impressive year for LGBTIQ+ feature fiction films coming from the UK with Summerland closing the Festival, and with Justine, Monsoon and Make Up screening in the main programme alongside the UK co-produced Moffie. The world premieres of Pride & Protest and Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club also represent strong documentary offerings from the UK.
Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s Senior Programmer says: “This year’s Festival feels more relevant than ever with filmmakers reflecting moving, urgent stories about LGBTIQ+ lives. We are privileged to share such a wide range of films from around the world that will entertain, provoke, perhaps most importantly, help us better understand ourselves and each other.”
Tricia Tuttle, BFI Festivals Director says: “As ever, the programmers have pulled together a truly international selection of films exploring LGBTIQ+ themes, but we’re heartened to see just how much strength in depth there is in work coming out of the UK. British features really shine in this globe-spanning programme.”
The Festival is thrilled and very grateful that the Pureland Foundation returns as the Main Supporter of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival. This year marks the third year of their critical and generous support. This partnership is established in a shared commitment to empowerment and social wellbeing, which the Foundation so resolutely represents.
Bruno Wang, Founder of Pureland Foundation says: “We are delighted to support BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and to be back, for the third year, as Main Supporter. The Festival mirrors Pureland Foundation’s belief in the power of the arts and culture to promote inclusion and social well-being and to celebrate diversity in our communities. As ever the programmers have done an incredible job in bringing together an exciting, ambitious and thought-provoking schedule of films and we look forward to seeing audiences’ reactions to these great films.”
The BFI Flare x BAFTA Crew Mentoring programme in partnership with BFI NETWORK returns for a sixth year, offering six emerging LGBTIQ+ filmmakers an incredible opportunity to strengthen and develop their industry knowledge and professional connections. Since its launch in 2015, the programme has supported 29 LGBTIQ+ filmmakers working towards their first feature or major broadcast / online commission. Previous mentees have included producer Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (Blue Story – mentee 2016), producer Eimhear O’Neill (The Go-Gos – mentee 2016) and writer Amrou Al-Kadhi (Little America – mentee 2017). Participants are matched with a senior industry mentor, based on their individual needs and ambitions as writers, directors or producers, alongside additional support from BAFTA on how to get the most out of the experience.
This year’s mentoring programme begins at BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival with selected mentees getting to participate in a series of exclusive sessions with senior industry professionals and festival guests before being paired with a mentor, with meetings facilitated throughout 2020. This year’s festival UK shorts programme Go Through It (Saturday 28 March, 15:10, NFT1) features a number of films made by scheme alumni including Pompeii (writers/directors Harry Lighton, mentee 2017, Matthew Jacobs Morgan, mentee 2018, and producer Sorcha Bacon, mentee 2018), Something in the Closet (writer/director Nosa Eke, mentee 2018) and Sweet Mother (exec producer Garry Paton, mentee 2019).
The Festival’s Industry Programme returns this year with a series of panels and masterclasses that explore contemporary LGBTIQ+ filmmaking practice. Events will examine a range of topics and will be announced in detail in the coming weeks.
Once again, BFI Flare will be in partnership with the British Council for #FiveFilmsForFreedom, which makes five LGBTIQ+ themed short films available for the world to watch online for free over the duration of the festival. Running since 2015, the programme has seen nearly 14 million people viewing one of the films in more than 200 countries and principalities, including many parts of the world where homosexuality is criminalised, and in some cases, punishable by the death penalty.
Building on the success of #FiveFilmsforFreedom, #MOREFilms4Freedom is an international collaboration between British, Syrian, Palestinian and South African filmmakers, in which three moving and urgent short films exploring LGBTIQ+ lives have been commissioned by BFI Flare, the British Council, and BFI NETWORK. The films are funded by the British Council and Producer Loran Dunn (A Deal with the Universe) has mentored the project teams from script stage through to the edit.