The 36th edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival (16 to 27 March at BFI Southbank) today announces it’s opening night gala is Girl Picture, Alli Haapasalo’s spirited coming-of-age drama. The closing night gala is TRAMPS!, directed by documentary filmmaker Kevin Hegge, whose previous film She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column screened at BFI Flare in 2013.

The UK premiere of Finnish director Alli Haapasalo’s Girl Picture, which won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at last month’s Sundance Film Festival and will screen in the Berlinale next week, opens the festival on Wednesday 16 March. Mimmi, Emma and Rönkkö are girls at the cusp of womanhood, trying to draw their own contours. Over three consecutive Fridays, two of them experience the earth-moving effects of falling in love, while the third goes on a quest to find something she’s never experienced: pleasure.

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The festival will close on Saturday 26 March with the world premiere of Kevin Hegge’s feature documentary TRAMPS!, which looks at how an onslaught of art students arriving in London in the 1980s resulted in a unique cross-fertilisation of British art, fashion, music and film culminating in a group known as “The New Romantics”. Hegge’s film shifts the focus onto the diversity of work being made by the lesser-celebrated, yet equally influential contributors to the scene. A direct message of hope to artists at a time when it’s needed most, TRAMPS! illustrates how creative resilience laid the foundations for the creative subcultures that followed.

“It’s hard to believe it has been three years since Flare last took over BFI Southbank, filling its screens with its unique queer magic,” said Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s senior programmer. “This year we return with a full live programme and a selection of online highlights for audiences around the UK, and we’re thrilled to be announcing the dazzling duo that will open and close this year’s BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Fest. Both are set to delight our audiences and steal their hearts!” 

Directed by Alli Haapasalo from a screenplay by Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen, Girl Picture is produced by Leila Lyytikäinen and Elina Pohjola for Citizen Jane Productions.  Copenhagen-based LevelK is handling international distribution.

Haapasalo said:“I am ecstatic to show Girl Picture at the renowned BFI Flare, and it is a very special honour to open this year’s festival. I really look forward to having an inspiring and meaningful exchange about the film with the Flare audience.”

TRAMPS! (2022)

Written and directed by Kevin Hegge and produced by Hegge and Brian Robertson of Low End, TRAMPS! is edited by Neil Cavalier and features music by Verity Susman and Matthew Simms.

Hegge said: “TRAMPS! is a film many years in the making, and wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for BFI Flare programming my debut feature documentary in 2013. Having met musician Verity Susman (Electrelane) at that same festival, Verity has now collaborated on the original soundtrack for the film with Matt Simms (Wire). Working from Canada, during a pandemic with our amazing editor, Neil Cavalier, has proven both rewarding and challenging. In the end, I believe we’ve landed on what I think is a very special film that offers a new perspective on a major pop-cultural movement and we are both humbled and excited to share it with London audiences as BFI Flare’s closing night film.”

The full programme for BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival will be revealed on Tuesday 15 February at 7pm.

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