The world premiere of AGAINST THE LAW, a powerful and timely factual new British drama, directed by Fergus O’Brien and starring Daniel Mays, will open the 31st edition of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival. The cast also features Mark Gatiss, Richard Gadd and Charlie Creed-Miles.
2017 sees the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which decriminalized homosexual acts in England and Wales between adult males, in private. While it would take several decades before homosexuals would reach anything like full equality in this country, this legislation marks the beginning of this journey.
AGAINST THE LAW is a timely and sensitive biopic based on Peter Wildeblood’s bestseller which tells the story of his affair with a handsome serviceman he met in Piccadilly and the devastating consequences of their relationship. Wildeblood had been a celebrated and wellconnected journalist on the Daily Express, with a range of acquaintances that included Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. He is played by Daniel Mays, in a beautifully nuanced performance that charts his journey from Fleet Street via public vilification to his imprisonment under the same legislation that sent Oscar Wilde to Reading Gaol. Mark Gatiss gives a chilling performance as a prison doctor charged with administering therapeutic measures to homosexuals acquiescing to the idea that they can be ‘changed’.
The importance of Peter Wildeblood’s case (jointly brought against him, Lord Montagu and Michael Pitt-Rivers) is that it brought the debate about homosexuality into the public domain. It led the way to the creation of the Wolfenden Committee on sexual law reform that eventually resulted in the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which changed the lives of thousands of gay men with its partial decriminalization of homosexual acts. This film offers a profoundly moving portrait of what it meant to be gay in the 1950s, underlining the importance of understanding our recent history
Director Fergus O’Brien said: “Making this film for the BBC not only allowed us to tell a powerful and important story in the evolution of LGBT rights in this country but also to capture for posterity the voices of some of the men who lived through these dark days in gay history. Their story, and the story of Peter Wildeblood, are timely reminders of the difficult journey it took to arrive at the rights enjoyed by gay people today and why it’s so important that we safeguard them. I’m delighted and honored that the film will be the Opening Night of BFI Flare“.
The 31st edition of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival will take place March 16th to 26th, 2017 at BFI Southbank.