Words: Will Stroude
We'll take our silver linings where we can these days, and one we won't be taking for granted is that fact that anyone, anywhere in the UK will be able to enjoy the fascinating LGBTQ films being screened online as part of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival.
The UK's biggest LGBTQ film festival takes place digitally this year between 17-28 March, with 26 ticketed feature films and 38 free shorts from 23 countries being made available to watch online via BFI Player. You can book your tickets to the feature films that tickle your fancy here.
Now, the full line-up of thought-provoking, funny and powerful queer-themed dramas and documentaries has been revealed, alongside the first trailer for this year's event.
As previously announced, BFI Flare will screen the international premiere of Jump, Darling, which features late Hollywood legend Cloris Leachman in her final starring role as an ailing woman whose drag queen grandson moves in with her following a break-up.
Jump Darling will receive its international premiere digitally at BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival
BFI Flare will see the world premiere of Peeter Rebane’s lavishly told feature debut Firebird, a touching love story set at the height of the Cold War, where a troubled soldier (Tom Prior) forms a forbidden love triangle with a daring fighter pilot (Oleg Zagorodnii) and his female comrade (Diana Pozharskaya) amid the dangerous surroundings of a Soviet Air Force Base.
Firebird will receive its world premiere at BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival
Tricia Tuttle, BFI Festivals Director says: “Facing the first lockdown last Spring, and with days until launch, we moved BFI Flare online – one of the first Festivals around the world to do so.
"Now, a year on, we are launching our second digital edition and Flare’s spirit of community, solidarity, defiance and celebration is more precious than ever, and we’re excited to be able to share that with audiences everywhere in the UK.”
The feature films being screened as part of BFI Flare have been grouped into three strands: 'Hearts', which includes films about love, romance and friendship; 'Bodies', which includes stories of sex, identity and transformation; and 'Minds', which features reflections on art, politics and community.
International audiences will also be able to enjoy the five LGBTQ short films which form part of BFI Flare's 'Five Films For Freedom' programme with the British Council, so there'll be something to watch wherever you are in the world.
Check out the full line-up of feature films being screened online at this year's BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival below. Tickets will be available to BFI Members from Friday 26 February and to the general public from Tuesday 2 March.
HEARTS (films about love, romance and friendship)
Boy Meets Boy
Two young men fall for each other over the course of a single day in the disarmingly tender debut from director Daniel Sánchez López.
Jonathan Wysocki’s 90s-set teen dramedy is delightful throwback to those most awkward of years.
A woman discovers that traveling back in time may help her come to terms with her present in this film from Thomas Wilson-White.
Kiss Me Before It Blows Up
Cultures clash and family secrets are revealed when Shira brings home her new girlfriend in the delightful first feature from director Shirel Peleg.
My First Summer Kiss
Amidst the grief of losing her mother, sheltered teen Claudia discovers friendship and love for the first time in Katie Found’s beautiful and sublime debut.
The hit New Zealand episodic drama from Max Currie is a moving and entertaining account of a trans man’s attempts to reconnect with his Māori roots and to rebuild the relationships he had left behind.
BFI Flare favourite Eytan Fox returns with an entertaining and heart-warming film about the encounter of a middle-aged gay man (The Normal Heart’s John Benjamin Hickey) with a young, aspiring filmmaker (stunning newcomer Niv Nissim).
AJ discovers it’s not so bad being on a family holiday when she meets flirtatious lifeguard Isla in this smart and funny first feature from director Marley Morrison.
From Peeter Rebane, this is a a touching love story set at the height of the Cold War, where a troubled soldier (Tom Prior) forms a forbidden love triangle with a daring fighter pilot (Oleg Zagorodnii) and his female comrade (Diana Pozharskaya) amid the dangerous surroundings of a Soviet Air Force Base.
BODIES (stories of sex, identity and transformation)
Colors of Tobi
A mesmerising portrait of a family grappling with teenage gender dysphoria, Alexa Bakony’s film is an uplifting documentary that exudes the defiant message that love is all you need.
In Anna Kerrigan’s gripping thriller, a father (Steve Zahn) and son attempt to escape a mother who is unwilling to accept her child’s gender dysphoria.
A nurse questions the intentions of his handsome new colleague in this taut and chilling psychological thriller from Martín Kraut.
I Am Samuel
Having screened to great success at last year’s BFI London Film Festival, Pete Murimi’s moving documentary portrait of a Kenyan gay couple facing danger and hardship will be co-presented with the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
The Obiturary of Tunde Johnson
A young African-American man is forced to repeatedly endure the fatal day of his shooting in Ali LeRoi’s riveting drama,
Young trans activist and Brazilian YouTube star Thiessa Woinbackk leads a superb cast in the impressive debut feature from Cássio Pereira dos Santos that sees a tough transgender teen demand her rights.
Body positivity, race, activism and queerness harmonise with full fat ferocity in Shana Myara’s documentary.
Phil Connell’s directorial debut, a heartfelt family drama about a drag queen reconnecting with his aging grandmother, features a stunning performance from the late Hollywood legend Cloris Leachman in her final starring role.
No Ordinary Man
A celebratory documentary portrait charting the fascinating life of jazz musician and transgender icon Billy Tipton, from Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt.
MINDS (reflections on art, politics and community)
The life and loves of celebrated filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder are laid bare in Oskar Roehler's engrossing, unconventional biopic starring Oliver Masucci (Look Who’s Back). Recommended viewing, the Rainer Werner Fassbinder collection is available to subscribers on BFI Player featuring eight films including the recent inclusion of his final film, Querelle.
Based on a true story, Eugen Jebeleanu’s probing Bucharest-set drama, weighs up the professional demands on a closeted police officer when his work clashes with his personal life.
P.S. Burn This Letter Please
When a cache of letters written by 1950s New York drag queens was discovered in 2014, filmmakers Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera tracked down the authors to hear their story.
A lyrical and romantic biopic of beloved Moomins creator Tove Jansson, directed by Zaida Bergroth and featuring an incredible central performance by Alma Pöysti.
Aids Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman
A Los Angeles Act-Up organiser is remembered for her fierce resistance to both transphobia and the AIDS virus in this film from Dante Alencastre.
This astonishingly rich documentary explores then campaign by key U.S. activists to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of mental illness.
Director Luchina Fisher’s endearing documentary portrait shows how fighter, organiser and survivor Gloria Allen has become a local hero to younger Chicagoan trans women.
A joyful and colourful history of post-punk dyke culture in the UK. Harnessing the anarchic energy and creativity of London in the early 1980s, Rebel Dykes mixes first person testimonies, animation and unseen archive to tell the stories of those artists, performers, musicians, sex workers and activists who lived it, and together, found their chosen family.
Tickets for the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival are available to book now.
For more information about key dates and tickets for the 2021 BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, click here.