From March 21st to 31st , the 33rd edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival will showcase the best in contemporary global LGBTQ+ films, over 50 features, more than 80 shorts and a wide range of special events, guest appearances, club nights and much more.
As previously announced, the Festival will open with Chanya Button’s breath-taking period drama VITA & VIRGINIA, charting the passionate relationship between literary trailblazer Virginia Woolf and enigmatic aristocrat Vita Sackville-West, starring Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton respectively [press release here]. The Festival will close with the European Premiere of Justin Kelly’s JT LEROY. Powered by superb performances from Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart, the film is adapted from Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT LeRoy and tells the captivating real life story of the most compelling literary ‘hoax’ of our generation. With a screenplay written by Justin Kelly and Savannah Knoop, JT LEROY also stars Diane Kruger and Jim Sturgess.
Additional program highlights include Marco Berger’s sweet and sexy THE BLOND ONE, which sees a tentative friendship between two young men blossom into a beautiful bromance, and MAPPLETHORPE (Dir. Ondi Timoner), which stars Matt Smith as the legendary photographer in a full-frontal homage to the devilish bad boy. TELL IT TO THE BEES (Dir. Annabel Jankel), adapted from Fiona Shaw’s beloved novel, stars Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger are two women who fall in love in 1950s Scotland, while the classic high school coming-out story gets a smart revision in the sharply perceptive teen drama GIANT LITTLE ONES (Dir. Keith Behrman), featuring supporting turns from Mario Bello and Kyle MacLachlan.
Among the various themes emerging from this year’s program, we see strong representations of bisexual, intersex and non-binary life. Highlights include:
• TWO IN THE BUSH: A LOVE STORY (Dir. Laura Madalinski), a charming rom-com in which bisexual Emily discovers the joy of polyamory in a relationship with her boss and her boss’s partner.
• NO BOX FOR ME: AN INTERSEX STORY (Dir. Floriane Devigne) focuses on a growing network of activists, determined to shift the medical community away from advising parents that a child’s future happiness depends on conforming genitals to binary norms.
• In TUCKED (Dir. Jamie Patterson), a blossoming friendship between two drag performers born 60 years apart is the subject of this emotionally engaging comedy.
• Based on an original stage play by Lee-Ann Poole, SPLINTERS (Dir. Thom Fitzgerald) is an affecting Canadian drama about a young bisexual woman facing up to her rural past.
The Festival is divided into three thematic strands: HEARTS, BODIES and MINDS. Following are highlights from this year’s program:
HEARTS include films about love, romance and friendship. In heart-warming drama FROM ZERO TO I LOVE YOU (Dir. Doug Spearman), a married man must face up to his true desires. A history of abuse is uncovered in MEN OF HARD SKIN (Dir. José Celestino), a provocative and challenging coming-ofage drama from Argentina. Supported by the Interbank LGBT Forum Members, the delightful PAPI CHULO (Dir. John Butler) stars Matt Bomer as a heartbroken gay TV weatherman who forms an unlikely friendship with an older straight migrant worker. Mishcon de Reya are supporting RAFIKI (Dir. Wanuri Kahiu), in which two young Kenyan women attempt a relationship, despite the illegality of their love. A 17-year-old girl’s sexual and political awakening upsets her devoutly religious father in the impressive coming of age film RED COW (Dir. Tsivia Barkai). A teenage orphan is forced to grow up quickly in SOCRATES (Dir. Alex Moratto), a captivating story of resilience in the face of hardship, while old tensions resurface between four friends in the sizzling psychological drama SUNBURN (Dir. Vicente Alves de O).
BODIES include stories of sex, identity and transformation. A varied selection of films includes the fabulous 25th anniversary screening of the Oscar-winning classic THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT (Dir. Stephan Elliott). In the taut Austrian thriller THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET (Dir. Marie Kreutzer) ghosts from the past threaten to engulf a young woman’s tightly controlled present. Winner of the Queer Lion at the Venice Film Festival, JOSE (Dir. Li Cheng) is a rare portrait of gay life in contemporary Guatemala. The uplifting and revelatory debut documentary, MAN MADE (Dir. T Cooper) follows four bronzed and buffed contestants at the Trans FitCon. In NEVRLAND (Dir. Gregor Schmidinger), a teenager is on a journey to discover himself in an unforgettable film not for the faint-hearted. After being released from prison, a young AfricanAmerican woman goes in search of her father in NIGHT COMES ON (Dir. Jordana Spiro). A dream vacation to Fire Island turns into a waking nightmare in LAST FERRY (Dir. Jaki Bradley), a nail-biting thriller. Delightful documentary LITTLE MISS WESTIE (Dir. Joy E Reed, Dan Hunt) charts the progress of a somewhat alternative, trans-inclusive New England family with two trans kids.
MINDS feature reflections on art, politics and community. A beautiful 16mm portrait of a queer lucha libre wrestler is captured in CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO! (Dir. Marie Losier), whilst UNITED WE FAN (Dir. Michael Sparaga) tells a story of ordinary people determined to save the television shows they love. Mx Justin Vivian Bond narrates THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA (Dir. Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher), an enlightening portrait of a Bible Belt town in Arkansas. The documentary HALSTON (Dir. Frédéric Tcheng) is the lavish portrait of American fashion legend Halston, complete with astonishing rare archive footage. MAKING MONTGOMERY CLIFT (Dir. Robert Clift, Hillary Demmon) trawls through the Hollywood star’s archives in search of the real Monty. The work of legendary black gay filmmaker Marlon Riggs is celebrated with archive screenings of TONGUES UNTIED (Dir. Marlon T Riggs) and a selection of his short films. TRANSMILITARY (Dir. Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson) follows four soldiers risking dismissal to fight for transgender rights in the US armed forces.