For 34 years, BFI Flare has prided itself on showcasing the best in queer cinema – and 2020’s edition is no different. Kicking off on March 18, the festival has just announced a line-up that includes more than 60 feature films, heaps of special screenings, short films and events, and, of course, the now infamous BFI Flare club nights.
Opening the festival is ‘Cicada’ from writer, director and star Matthew Fifer. Following the non-committal and transient bisexual Ben as he meets handsome stranger Sam, the film is an open and honest look at intimacy and confronting trauma. From the short preview shown at BFI Flare’s launch event, the film looks like it could easily become a quiet and contemplative queer classic, like Andrew Haigh’s ‘Weekend’ or Ira Sachs’s ‘Keep the Lights On’.
The festival will close with ‘Summerland’, a World War II romance starring Gemma Arterton about a woman nursing a broken heart, while the centrepiece screening is ‘Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen’, a documentary about transgender representation in TV and film.
The festival is split into three themes – Hearts, Minds and Bodies – with many films reflecting a spirit of activism, resistance and rebellion. Highlights include Xavier Dolan’s ‘Matthias & Maxime’, the Henry Golding-starring ‘Monsoon’ from ‘Lilting’ director Hong Khaou, ‘Lingua Franca’, the story of a transwoman navigating life as an immigrant in New York, and the hilarious looking ‘Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt)’ about a lesbian teenager whose aunt returns from the dead to dole out romantic advice.
Sports fans should check out ‘Changing the Game’, a groundbreaking doc about the lives of LGBTQ+ athletes and the difficulties they face living openly, as well a ‘Steelers’, a film about the world’s first gay rugby club. Meanwhile, the political spirit of the queer community can be found in films like ‘Pride & Protest’, a documentary about the current climate in Britain for LGBTQ+ people, and ‘Our Dance of Revolution’, which follows 35 years of Black POC queer activism in Canada and asks important questions about identity and making spaces for yourself.
Also keep your eye out for some of the festival’s archive screenings, including a showing of ‘Drag Ball’, a thought-to-be-lost 1981 documentary from director John Samson about the drag scene west London. It sounds truly fabulous.
BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival is at BFI Southbank from Mar 18-29. Tickets go on sale to BFI members on Tue Feb 25 and to the general public on Thu Feb 27. For the full programme and more information, visit the website.
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