Five Films For Freedom, the world’s largest LGBTIQ+ digital campaign, returns for its seventh edition in 2021, reminding audiences that ’Love is still a human right’. Broadcasting five brand new LGBTIQ+ films to countries around the world, this year’s programme showcases queer storytelling from India, Spain, Sweden, USA and the UK.
In a continuing creative partnership, the British Council has selected five short films from the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and will make them available across the British Council’s global digital networks, for free, from 17 to 28 March.
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Five Films For Freedom 2021 sees filmmakers exploring emerging sexuality, trans-activism, homophobia and genderless love.
Global audiences are encouraged to show solidarity with LGBTIQ+ communities around the world and view the films via the British Council’s Arts YouTube channel. This year’s campaign acknowledges that links between global LGBTIQ+ communities may have been adversely impacted by restrictions arising from Covid-19. In response, the campaign’s call-to-action – asking audiences to share the films widely using the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom – serves as a timely reminder that Love is Still a Human Right for LGBTIQ+ communities who continue to feel isolated.
In a new twist for 2021, audiences will be invited to nominate their Five Films Favourite, selecting the film that resonates most for them via a British Council web poll. The winning film will be announced via British Council social media channels prior to 28 March. Voting for the Five Films Favourite opens 17 March via the Five Films For Freedom homepage.
Over 15 million people from more than 200 countries have viewed the Five Films For Freedom programme since its launch in 2015. This continues to include online engagement in countries where homosexuality can be prosecuted and, in some cases, punishable by death.
Commenting on Five Films For Freedom’s 2021 focus, to support and sustain global LGBTIQ+ connections, the British Council’s Director of Film, Briony Hanson, says:
After such a remarkable and difficult year, it feels so good to be able to send a positive message of support and solidarity to LGBTIQ+ communities the world over, by inviting audiences everywhere to watch Five Films For Freedom. The range of experiences shown and the diversity of voices reveal that wherever you are, the campaign’s message - that love is still a human right - is more relevant than ever.
Michael Blyth, Senior Programmer, BFI Flare, adds:
Now in its seventh year, Five Films For Freedom remains an integral part of BFI Flare, giving audiences worldwide the chance to access a selection of extraordinary short films from our programme. It has been humbling and gratifying to see how many millions of people we have reached since launching the project in 2015, and we are so excited to continue working with the British Council to reach millions more this year.
Building on the success of Five Films For Freedom, the British Council, BFI NETWORK and BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival have partnered for a second year to commission three brand new LGBTIQ+ short films from filmmakers from the Middle East and across the African continent working in partnership with filmmakers in the UK. These films, under the banner #MoreFilmsForFreedom, will be launched in Summer 2021.
Five Films For Freedom continues the British Council’s work building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching.
Five Film For Freedom programme 2021
Bodies of Desire (India, directors: Varsha Panikar and Saad Nawab, 3 mins), directed by Varsha Panikar and multi-award-winner Saad Nawab, uses Indian poet Panikar’s work as the basis for a visual, poetic film capturing four sets of lovers in a sensual celebration of genderless love and desire.
Land of the Free (Sweden, director: Dawid Ullgren, 10 mins) – Ullgren’s tense Swedish drama follows the fictional David and friends as they celebrate his birthday with a nightly swim at the beach. The good mood swiftly changes after two straight couples walk by and laugh – was the laughter directed at them, or something else? Who owns the truth of exactly what happened?
Pure (USA, director: Natalie Jasmine Harris, 12 mins) is the fictional debut from 2020 Directors Guild of America Student Film Award winner Natalie Jasmine Harris, centring on a young Black girl grappling with her queer identity and ideas of ‘purity’. The film is written, produced and directed by Harris — a filmmaker passionate about the intersection between filmmaking and social justice.
Trans Happiness Is Real (UK, director: Quinton Baker, 8 mins) – a moving documentary from first-time filmmaker Quinton Baker — sees transgender activists take to the streets of Oxford, England to fight anti-trans sentiments using the power of graffiti and street art.
Victoria (Spain, director: Daniel Toledo, 7 mins) follows a bittersweet reunion between a trans woman and her ex, sparking tension and long buried resentment. Directed by award-winning filmmaker, Daniel Toledo, Victoria also features acclaimed trans actress, writer and director Abril Zamora (The Life Ahead, The Mess You Leave Behind).
All films will be available to view from 17 to 28 March 2021 via the British Council Arts YouTube channel.
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