34th BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival Highlights

The British Film Institute’s annual LGBTIQ+ film festival Flare is back this month with an exciting lineup of more than 50 feature films, including a few The Queer Review favourites. From March 18th-29th the festival will fill the BFI Southbank with queer cinema, discussions, parties and more.

Things kick off with the Opening Night world premiere presentation of Cicada, the debut feature by Matt Fifer and Kieran Mulcare. Starring Fifer and Sheldon D Brown, Cicada tells the story of a young man facing his past traumas as he embarks on a fresh relationship. The film also features Cobie Smulders (Avengers), Scott Adsit (30 Rock) and David Burtka.

BFI Flare 2020 Opening Night world premiere Cicada

The Closing Night gala will be Jessica Swale’s WWII-set Summerland, starring her Nell Gwynn collaborators Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, about a woman rediscovering her ability to love.

Summerland. Photo credit: Michael Wharley

The Centrepiece Screening of the this year’s BFI Flare will be the UK premiere of Disclosure: Trans Lives on the Screen from filmmaker Sam Feder which recently had its world premiere at Sundance. The film traces the history of trans representation featuring the likes of Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono and the Wachowski siblings.

Our Dance of Revolution

A key theme running through much of this year’s programming is representation of activism and resistance, brave individuals and communities fighting for change like Isabel Sandoval’s Lingua Franca about an undocumented Filipina transwoman in New York. The eclectic range of documentaries includes Changing The Game (★★★★★), Drag Kids (★★★★), Our Dance of Revolution (a look at a black LGBTIQ+ movement in Toronto), Pride & Protest (looking at anti-LGBTIQ+ education protests in Birmingham), Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club about teamwork and community in gay sports, and We Are The Radical Monarchs – about a group of fierce and inspiring activists.

Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club

Among Flare’s other feature film highlights are some The Queer Review’s recent favourites such as Moffie (★★★★★), Monsoon (★★★★), Don’t Look Down (★★★1/2), Two of Us (★★★1/2), Matthias & Maxime (★★★★) and a special double-bill the documentary You Don’t Nomi (★★★1/2) with the interactive Showgirls Shade-along!

You Don’t Nomi

Attendees can revel in a range of debut features including Make Up, a psycho-sexual drama that will keep you guessing; Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), an Australian rom-com with dating advice from a deceased Aunt; My Fiona, Kelly Walker’s film about unexpected emotions and new beginnings; and Clemetine, an atmospheric encounter between two women at an idyllic lake house. 

Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt)

Horror fans will be able to see gay-slasher Midnight Kiss, and the socio-political shocker Spiral

Other potential gems include Evan Purchell’s Ask Any Buddy, a look at queer life between 1968-1986 as seen through an edited compilation of erotic gay films; Busy Inside, in which a therapist works with women with dissociative identity disorder; and For They Know Not What They Do, looking at the impact of organised religion on LGBTIQ+ individuals through four unique stories.

Busy Inside

Of course, Flare isn’t just about the screenings. The Big Gay Film Quiz returns for another outting to test your knowledge. There are discussions on Intersex culture and queer disability, while Drag Queen Story Time will set a family-friendly tone (and push against the current outrage over drag queens reading to children). And the BFI Flare Club Nights will keep feet moving and drinks flowing till the early hours. We’ll see you on the dancefloor!

The full programme can be seen on the Flare page of the BFI website, and tickets are on sale now!

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