The 35th edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival will run from March 17th – 28th and has a full virtual programme, just like last year. The most accessible version of the festival will include 26 features and 38 free shorts from 23 countries, with closed captioning (supported by Mishcon de Reya) and audio description on English-language films.
BFI Flare will screen the International premiere of JUMP, DARLING. Phil Connell’s directorial debut, a heartfelt family drama about a drag queen reconnecting with his aging grandmother, features a stunning performance from the late Hollywood legend Cloris Leachman in her final starring role.
Other highlights of the festival are bound to be FIREBIRD, a touching love story set at the height of the Cold War, where a troubled soldier (Tom Prior) forms a forbidden love triangle with a daring fighter pilot (Oleg Zagorodnii) and his female comrade (Diana Pozharskaya) amid the dangerous surroundings of a Soviet Air Force Base;
Harri Shanahan and Sian A. Williams’ rousing feature documentary REBEL DYKES is a joyful and colourful history of post-punk dyke culture in the UK. Harnessing the anarchic energy and creativity of London in the early 1980s, REBEL DYKES mixes first person testimonies, animation and unseen archive to tell the stories of those artists, performers, musicians, sex workers and activists who lived it, and together, found their chosen family;
Documentaries sure to bring about discussion include CURED which is an astonishingly rich documentary which explores the campaign by key U.S. activists to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of mental illness;
MAMA GLORIA, Director Luchina Fisher’s endearing documentary portrait shows how fighter,
organiser and survivor Gloria Allen has become a local hero to younger Chicagoan trans women;
and the fascinating story of pioneering trans jazz musician Billy Tipton is brought thrillingly to life
in NO ORDINARY MAN.
BFI Flare is divided into three thematic strands: HEARTS, BODIES and MINDS. The full programme is detailed below.
HEARTS includes films about love, romance and friendship. Two young men fall for each other over the course of a single day in BOY MEETS BOY, a disarmingly tender debut from director Daniel Sánchez López. Jonathan Wysocki’s 90s-set teen dramedy DRAMARAMA is a delightful throwback to those most awkward of years, while in Thomas Wilson-White’s THE GREENHOUSE, a woman discovers that traveling back in time may help her come to terms with her present. Cultures clash and family secrets are revealed when Shira brings home her new girlfriend in the delightful first feature KISS ME BEFORE IT BLOWS UP, from director Shirel Peleg; and amidst the grief of losing her mother, sheltered teen Claudia discovers friendship and love for the first time in Katie Found’s beautiful and sublime debut, MY FIRST SUMMER. RŪRANGI, the hit New Zealand episodic drama from Max Currie is a moving and entertaining account of a trans man’s attempts to reconnect with his Māori roots and to rebuild the relationships he had left behind; BFI Flare favourite Eytan Fox returns with SUBLET, an entertaining and heart-warming film about the encounter of a middle-aged gay man (The Normal Heart’s John Benjamin Hickey) with a young, aspiring filmmaker (stunning newcomer Niv Nissim); and AJ discovers it’s not so bad being on a family holiday when she meets flirtatious lifeguard Isla in SWEETHEART, a smart and funny first feature from director Marley Morrison. Peeter Rebane’s FIREBIRD will also screen in the HEARTS strand.
BODIES includes stories of sex, identity and transformation. A mesmerising portrait of a family grappling with teenage gender dysphoria, Alexa Bakony’s COLORS OF TOBI is an uplifting documentary that exudes the defiant message that love is all you need; in Anna Kerrigan’s gripping thriller COWBOYS, a father (Steve Zahn) and son attempt to escape a mother who is unwilling to accept her child’s gender dysphoria; while a nurse questions the intentions of his handsome new colleague in THE DOSE, a taut and chilling psychological thriller from Martín Kraut. Having screened to great success at last year’s BFI London Film Festival, I AM SAMUEL, Pete Murimi’s moving documentary portrait of a Kenyan gay couple facing danger and hardship, will be co-presented with the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. A young African-American man is forced to repeatedly endure the fatal day of his shooting in Ali LeRoi’s riveting drama, THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON; young trans activist and Brazilian YouTube star Thiessa Woinbackk leads a superb cast in VALENTINA, the impressive debut feature from Cássio Pereira dos Santos that sees a tough transgender teen demand her rights; and body positivity, race, activism and queerness harmonise with full fat ferocity in Shana Myara’s documentary WELL ROUNDED. Phil Connell’s JUMP, DARLING and Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s NO ORDINARY MAN will also screen in the BODIES strand.
MINDS features reflections on art, politics and community. The life and loves of celebrated filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder are laid bare in Oskar Roehler’s ENFANT TERRIBLE, an engrossing, unconventional biopic starring Oliver Masucci (Look Who’s Back). Recommended viewing, the Rainer Werner Fassbinder collection is available to subscribers on BFI Player featuring eight films including the recent inclusion of his final film Querelle. Based on a true story, POPPY FIELD, Eugen Jebeleanu’s probing Bucharest-set drama, weighs up the professional demands on a closeted police officer when his work clashes with his personal life. When a cache of letters written by 1950s New York drag queens was discovered in 2014, filmmakers Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera tracked down the authors to hear their story in P.S. BURN THIS LETTER PLEASE, while TOVE is a lyrical and romantic biopic of beloved Moomins creator Tove Jansson, directed by Zaida Bergroth and featuring an incredible central performance by Alma Pöysti. Dante Alencastre’s AIDS DIVA: THE LEGEND OF CONNIE NORMAN, Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer’s CURED, Luchina Fisher’s MAMA GLORIA and Harri Shanahan and Sian A. Williams’ REBEL DYKES will also screen in the MINDS strand.
Exclusive Q&As and introductions with the filmmaking teams will be presented for each of the features. This year’s BFI Flare will also include Screen Talks via BFI YouTube and a discursive events programme, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks. Plus a special online edition of the legendary BFI Flare BIG GAY FILM QUIZ will be back to test your queer film knowledge!
There is also a BFI Flare Shorts programme which is split across 7 thematic selections.
Tickets are currently on sale via bfi.org.uk/flare.