Five Films for Freedom, the world’s widest LGBTQIA+ digital campaign, returns from 16 March, bringing five new LGBTQI films from China, Croatia, India, Panama and the UK to audiences across the world.

In this eighth year, the film programme continues BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival’s partnership with the British Council, with the short films available across the British Council’s global digital networks for free from 16 to 27 March to coincide with the festival. 

The programme of films features works by award-winning filmmakers selected by BFI Flare, exploring themes including immigration, intimacy and isolation. It includes British-Nigerian director Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor, whose short film For Love focuses on illegal immigrant Nkechi and the unique challenges she faces due to her sexual identity.

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Also featured is Croatian comic artist and animation director Marko Dješka’s animated film All Those Sensations in My Belly, following the story of trans girl Matia’s transition and her quest for love; while Indian director Arun Fulura’s film Sunday examines the desire and loneliness of a middle aged man on his weekly visit to the barbers.

Panamanian director Judith Corro brings us her first film as both scriptwriter and director, Birthday Boy (Vuelta al sol), a story about parents denying their son’s identity as a young trans man, and Chinese director Hao Zhou delivers Frozen Out, an experimental short film that combines scenes from rural Iowa and rural China to explore anxiety, dislocation and self-exile.

Global audiences are encouraged to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities around the world where freedom and equal rights are limited by watching the films via the British Council Arts YouTube channel.  

Since 2015 and with the programmes live for less than 80 days, Five Films for Freedom films have been viewed 17 million times by people in over 200 countries and principalities, including all parts of the world where homosexuality is criminalised, and all countries where the death penalty is in place. 

Commenting on the 2022 Five Films For Freedom programme the British Council’s director of film, Briony Hanson, said: “This year’s films represent a selection of exciting voices from across the world, telling stories about the queer experience that are still rarely seen in many places. As LGBTQIA+ people across the world continue to fight for basic rights, #FiveFilmsForFreedom is as important as ever, driving home the message that love is a human right, no matter how we identify or where we are. We can’t wait for a global audience to enjoy them.”

Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s senior programmer said: “Five Films For Freedom is an essential moment in the global queer film calendar, uniting people across the world by giving free access to an incredible selection of shorts films. Not everyone has the same level of access to LGBTQIA+ film and images as we do in the UK, and this opportunity to bring queer work to a millions of people remains as vital and meaningful as ever. “

Share the films more widely using the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom, in recognition of the fact that Love is a Human Right.

Five Films For Freedom continues the British Council’s work building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching.

All films will be available to view from 16 to 27 March 2022 via the British Council Arts YouTube channel.