Sunday, June 16, 2024

BFI Flare: Exploring Rich Minds, Individuality, and Societal Exploration

London’s renowned BFI Flare festival is back, ready to immerse audiences in a vibrant showcase of queer cinema that tells the themes of love, identity, and community. Running from March 13th to March 24th, this year’s festival promises to be a captivating exploration of diverse narratives and human experiences.

Far more than just a film festival, BFI Flare serves as a beacon of inclusivity, inviting individuals from all walks of life to participate in the celebration of queer culture. Through its meticulously curated thematic strands—Hearts, Bodies, and Minds—the festival creates a platform for voices to be heard and stories to be shared.

In the Hearts strand, viewers will be treated to heartwarming tales of love, friendship, and resilience. From the spirited adventures of Isla Roberts in “Isla’s Way” to the poignant struggles of modern relationships depicted in “Our Son,” these films offer a glimpse into the intricacies of the human heart.

The Bodies strand explores themes of identity and transformation, celebrating the beauty of diversity and self-expression. From the empowering narratives of queer athletes in “Life Is Not a Competition, But I’m Winning” to the touching journey of healing portrayed in “Silver Haze,” these films inspire and uplift audiences alike.

Minds, the festival’s third thematic strand, presents thought-provoking narratives that challenge perceptions and spark meaningful conversations. From the political insights of “Orlando, My Political Biography” to the gripping storytelling of “Calls from Moscow,” these films provide a window into the complexities of the human experience.

In addition to film screenings, BFI Flare offers a diverse array of events, talks, and discussions designed to engage and connect audiences on a deeper level. From intimate conversations with filmmakers to interactive quizzes and community gatherings, the festival fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie among attendees.

This year’s festival is brought together to celebrate the richness of love, the power of identity, and the strength of community. Through the art of storytelling, it shall inspire, educate, and unite in the shared journey towards acceptance and understanding.

Program Highlights

The festival boasts an impressive lineup of 33 World Premieres across features and shorts originating from 41 countries. Themes such as HEARTS, BODIES, and MINDS provide a diverse exploration of various facets of queer experiences. Opening the festival is the European Premiere of “LAYLA” by Amrou Al-Kadhi, while the closing film is the World Premiere of “LADY LIKE” by Luke Willis.

Special Presentations

Noteworthy films include “CLOSE TO YOU” directed by Dominic Savage, with Elliot Page serving as an executive producer, and “BACKSPOT” directed by D.W. Waterson.
“CROSSING” by Levan Akin and “LOVE LIES BLEEDING” by Rose Glass are also featured as standout presentations.

Diverse Perspectives:

The program showcases films from around the globe, offering diverse LGBTQIA+ narratives rooted in various cultural contexts. Topics range from coming-of-age tales to trans narratives, explorations of drag culture, and examinations of faith within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Special Events and Industry Initiatives:

Industry-focused events like BFI Flare Industry Day and BFI Flare x BAFTA, in partnership with BFI NETWORK, are integral parts of the festival.
Celebrating its 10th year, Five Films for Freedom, a collaboration with the British Council, offers free films worldwide to advocate for rights.

Notable Films and Documentaries:

The lineup includes documentaries highlighting icons such as Lil Nas X and Tony de Vit, as well as films delving into queer history and culture. Films from Greece and Africa take the spotlight, presenting a rich tapestry of narratives from diverse corners of the world.

Programme details

ALIGNED – Apollo Bakopoulos’ beautiful and engaging drama, follows the story of two male dancers who forge an artistic and sexual bond while training with a dance company in Greece. The intoxicating power of physical discovery and a shared love of Greek culture are vividly revealed in this love story partly played out through music and movement.

ISLA’S WAY – Meet Isla Roberts: great-grandmother, carriage driver, handywoman. The indomitable spirit of the cheeky octogenarian is the beating heart of this delightful and inspiring ode to the visibility of older women.

LESVIA – Tzeli Hadjidimitriou’s initimate documentary, a blissfully nostalgic yet impressively complex insight into the hidden stories of Lesbos, birthplace of Sappho and meeting place for lesbians since the 1970s. From the unique vantage point of being a lesbian from Lesbos herself, Hadjidimitriou expertly balances the perspectives of the women looking for a place to connect and relax alongside the wary locals they often encounter.

OUR SON – Billy Porter and Luke Evans star as a couple on the brink of divorce, fighting over custody of their eight-year-old son.

SINCE THE LAST TIME WE MET – Victor and David’s story takes us on a familiar journey of loving and losing. But 15 years later they get a second chance at love, the result is a fresh and entertaining drama of the heart.

SPLIT – In this sensual web series, a stuntwoman embarks on her first lesbian relationship when she falls for the actor she’s working with. With an incredible cast, including Alma Jodorowsky, Jehnny Beth, Ralph Amoussou and Pauline Chalamet, SPLIT is a bold and intelligent exploration of sex, relationships and intimacy.

DOPAMINE CRASH – A collection of short films about the messiness of break-ups. Coming off the love high is painful, although it may be for the best

DRAWN THIS WAY – The love and craft that goes into animation shines through in this collection of short films, which aim to engage, educate – and even titillate – audiences about queer lives.

QUEER/PLATONIC – An ode to joys and tribulations of queer friendships and platonic intimacies – their intensity, fluidity and subversiveness

TENDER HEARTED: SHORTS FROM THE UK & IRELAND – This selection of shorts seeks to remind us of the radical possibilities of opening up our hearts to life, love and healing.

UNICORNS – Sally El Hosaini and James Krishna Floyd’s stunning romance rooted in two distinct communities.Starring Ben Hardy and Jason Patel, the film is loosely inspired by the real-life experiences of Asifa Lahore, Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen.

Also screening in HEARTS: CHASING CHASING AMY; PINE CONE; SOLIDS BY THE SEASHORE; SUMMER SOLSTICE; UNICORNS; WHAT A FEELING, WHAT’S SAFE, WHAT’S GROSS, WHAT’S SELFISH AND WHAT’S STUPID; WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN.

LIFE IS NOT A COMPETITION, BUT I’M WINNING – In this beautifully constructed, innovative documentary, a collective of queer athletes unearth deep histories of pioneering sportspeople who were excluded from the podium.

CONNECT/DISCONNECT – This selection of shorts looks at how the power of attraction can surprise and unsettle, whether it’s the first few seconds of an encounter or something longer.

COSMIC DREAMS: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – Techno-sexual deviants, pixelated dolphins and sensuous goddesses all reside in this fantastical queer multiverse of short film.

PLEASURE ME – Short films exploring queer sex and desire in varied forms. There is beauty and frustration, joy and heartbreak. The pleasure is endless – at least, for some.

SEX IS COMEDY: the revolution of intimacy co-ordinators – A fascinating insight into the role of the intimacy co-ordinator, told through behind-the-scenes access to new queer French TV show Split.

A TASTE OF SPAIN – From the bullring to the boxing ring, and the joys of youth to the vulnerability of old age, this selection of cinematic delights showcases short filmmakers from Spain.

SILVER HAZE – Reeling from the trauma of her difficult childhood, a 23-year-old burns survivor finds some healing through her first lesbian relationship.

SLOW – Dovydas and Elena form a strong connection, but the dynamic of their relationship changes when Dovydas reveals that he is asexual.

TOPS – It’s the hilarious trans 1990s breakfast TV show you didn’t know you wanted. Amy Pennington taps into the spirit of MTV and The Big Breakfast in this comic series.

Also screening in BODIES: BACKSPOT; DEPARTING SENIORS; I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE; JOIN THE CLUB; THE SUMMER WITH CARMEN; RILEY; WE ARE PERFECT.

CALLS FROM MOSCOW – Four Cuban exiles find themselves in Moscow one day before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Triggered by the recent death of a Cameroonian activist, filmmaker Appolain Siewe journeys back to his home country to investigate the roots of homophobia within the local psyche in CODE OF FEAR. Siewe initiates uncomfortable conversations within his community regarding homosexuality and ostracised by his family, he finds himself confronted with the steep cost of African allyship.

METHODS FOR FACING A HOSTILE WORLD – These shorts show people using all the resources of their hearts, minds and bodies to defend what they love.

ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY – Nearly a century after Orlando was published, Paul B. Preciado unpacks the meaning and importance for trans people of Virginia Woolf’s classic novel.

SAY WHAT YOU MEAN – It is really hard to speak your truth to a loved one, or to strangers. Yet all the people in these short films do, in their own time and way.

STATE OF THE ART – Gender-fluid, transgender and non-binary artists draw on dance, filmmaking and literature in these short tales of cathartic communication and exigent expression, contemplating art as a force to be reckoned with.

Also screening in MINDS: BALDIGA – UNLOCKED HEART; COMMITMENT TO LIFE; DAYS OF HAPPINESS; DESIRE LINES; DON’T EVER STOP; HEAVY SNOW; HIDDEN MASTER: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE PLATT LYNES; INDIAS 1st BEST TRANS MODEL AGENCY; LIL NAS X: LONG LIVE MONTERO; LOVE LIES BLEEDING; MERCHANY IVORY; REAS; STORIES OF OUR LIVES; STUDIO ONE FOREVER; TOLL; UNSPOKEN; WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP; WE WERE DANGEROUS; YOU PROMISED ME THE SEA.

BFI Flare 2024 will also host a wide range of events, talks, and debates:

LITANIES FOR SURVIVAL: THREE FILMS BY MICHELLE PARKERSON + Q&A

A journey through the work of pioneering lesbian African-American filmmaker Michelle Parkerson with three short films, STORMÉ: THE LADY OF THE JEWEL BOX, ODDS AND ENDS and FIERCENESS SERVED! THE ENIKALLEY COFFEEHOUSE, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.

THE MAKERS returns this year as BFI Flare welcomes visiting filmmakers Amrou Al-Kadhi, director of Opening Night Gala, LAYLA, and Jeffrey Schwarz, director of COMMITMENT TO LIFE, to discuss their career journeys, share anecdotes about the making of their latest films and reveal their artistic approaches.

SCENES OF INTIMACY. A discussion with intimacy co-ordinator Tommy Ross-Williams around the creation of queer intimacy on screen. In this workshop, Ross-Williams will share insights on their own work developing intimate queer content on screen and provide space to reflect on the representation of queer relationships and marginalized identities in our daily lives.This event links closely with two features in the programme, sensual French webseries SPLIT by Iris Brey; and SEX IS COMEDY: THE REVOLUTION OF INTIMACY COORDINATORS the fascinating documentary on SPLIT by Edith Chapinproviding an insight into the work of an intimacy coordinator, highlighting the power dynamics, politics, and ethical considerations that come up on set.

MR. TEDS’ BIG FABULOUS INTERACTIVE QUIZ. The notorious bearded drag artist brings his anarchy-fuelled brand of quizzing to BFI Flare. With a background of performing across the world including Duckie, Underbelly and NYC Downlow, Mr. Teds brings the full force of his creativity to curate an interactive quiz night like no other, testing GBTQIA+ film knowledge, lip-syncing skills and life drawing abilities.

FAITH (IN THE POWER OF LOVE). This illustrated discussion with speakers from different religious communities takes a look at representations of their religions in LGBTQIA+ films, including those that have made an impact on them. The panel will also discuss the intersection of faith and LGBTQIA+ identity: how easy is it for someone to be out in their faith community, and conversely, what is the experience of being out as a person of faith in the LGBTQIA+ community?

OSKA BRIGHT PRESENTS QUEER FREEDOM. Oska Bright Film Festival is the world’s leading festival for films made by or featuring people with learning disabilities or autism, this event see’s Lead Programmer Matthew Hellett present a selection of LGBTQIA+ shorts. Their Queer Freedom programme shines a spotlight on the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community, which can often go unheard. Featuring stories of love, loss, and friendship.

AN AUDIENCE WITH LINDA RILEY. At The Makers’ event at BFI Flare 2022, Gateways Grind director Jacquie Lawrence promised to turn the camera on Linda Riley, a leading LGBTQIA+ activist, the publisher of DIVA Magazine and Founder of Lesbian Visibility Week. This year we see Linda Riley in conversation with filmmaker Jacquie Lawrence in a behind-the-scenes look at her new film The Life of Riley ahead of the film’s release.

CAN WE BE FRIENDS? A community event celebrating queer friendship and platonic intimacy, in all its forms. For all those seeking new friends and connection, BFI Flare programmers Rhianna and Wema have created a dedicated space celebrating queer friendship, inspired by the shorts programme QUEER/PLATONIC. There will be drop-in style creative activities to meet new people, and relaxed facilitated discussions about the joys and complexities of building queer community.

BFI Flare’s popular BADGE CAFÉ will return this year, along with DJ NIGHTS at BFI Southbank BFI Bar (taking place on Friday 15th, Saturday 16th, Thursday 21st and Friday March 22nd) featuring Fèmmme Fraîche, Club Kali, DJ Mike Menace and with Tamer Wilde during the opening night party, while the dynamic Unskinny Bop duo and Queer Kitty play BFI Flare’s closing night party.

Source: https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/flare/

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