The London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is back, now in its 28th year, bringing an expanded programme of features, shorts and documentaries, as well as special events and brandishing a new name: BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival.
Running from the 20th to the 30th of March 2014, the festival includes three gala films, over 50 films from 20 countries grouped around three central themes, as well as a number of exhibitions and talks. The three key themes of the festival are Hearts (Films about love, romance and friendship); Bodies (Stories of sex, identity and transformation); and Minds (Reflections on art, politics and community).
The festival was renamed according to Clare Stewart, BFI’s head of exhibition and the London Film Festival to “reflect the increasing diversity of the programme and the people who identify with and embrace it”.
“BFI Flare is inclusive and welcoming to all audiences and it also has a conceptual richness suggesting the light of a cinema projector or a beacon and the spark of an idea, moving forward and growing outward,” Stewart said.
The newly rebranded and expanded festival now also encompasses a BFI Flare channel on its VOD platform BFI Player and a monthly screening programme at the BFI Southbank, bringing the best contemporary and archive LGBT cinema to audiences across the UK.
Opening this year’s festival is the European premiere of Hong Khaou’s Lilting; a beautiful and intimate meditation on communication and grief. Produced under Film London’s Microwave scheme and starring Ben Whishaw, Cheng Pei-Pei (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Peter Bowles, Lilting is a cross-generation and cross-cultural story set in London; a portrait of strangers brought together by the death of a loved one. Though not a documentary we recommend you go and see it.
Documentaries to look out for at BFI Flare are: The Abominable Crime and Veil of Silence, two powerful documentaries about homophobia in Jamaica and Nigeria; I Always Said Yes: the Many Lives of Wakefield Poole, about the pioneer pornographer, and Born This Way, on the lives of LGBT people in Cameroon.
The Stinging Kiss is also a must as it offers a rare opportunity to see a number of works by India-based queer and feminist artist Tejal Shah, followed by an extended Q&A with the filmmaker. And the doc Will You Dance with Me? will provide viewers with an as of yet unseen Derek Jarman experiment in a gay nightclub.
Much anticipated is Stephen Beresford in conversation with Brian Robinson on writing the screenplay for Pride, which uncovers the true story of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners movement in 1984.
Other interesting events include: The Abominable Laws, a round table discussion about the state of LGBT rights around the world; Bollywood, LGBT Style: Queer Readings of Popular Hindi Cinema with Dr Rajinder Dudrah; Queer Eye for the Dead Guy, a revisionist history of horror through a queer lens, and We Love Caged Lesbians with programmer Emma Smart. BFI Flare Club Nights are running throughout the festival for added free fun and lots of dancing.
Special festival guests include filmmakers Hong Khaou, Sophie Hyde, Antonio Hens, Malcolm Ingram, Anna-Margarita Albelo, Darren Stein, Charles Lum and Todd Verow.
The majority of events and screenings are taking place at BFI Southbank. For more information and to book tickets go to www.bfi.org.uk/flare.