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BFI Flare: 15 films to watch at this year’s LGBTQIA Film Festival

The 38th edition of the festival runs from 13-24 March 2024

By Alastair James

BFI Flare We Were Dangerous
We Were Dangerous (Image: Piki Films Limited)

Earlier this week BFI Flare, the LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, released its full programme for the 2024 edition.

Among the films featured in this year’s BFI Flare are all sorts of stories relating to the LGBTQIA+ community from trans-specific films, films about people of faith, documentaries, music, and more.

While the full BFI Flare programme is now available to peruse at your leisure, we’ve had a look through and identified 15 films we think are worth noting if you’re making plans. FYI – BFI Flare tickets go on sale on 20 February for BFI Members and on general sale from 22 February. And all screenings are taking place at the BFI Southbank.

Love Lies Bleeding

When bodybuilder Jackie walks into Lou’s gym, there’s instant attraction. Soon the pair are cohabitating and planning Jackie’s win at an upcoming contest. But after an act of violence, the bodies start to pile up. Is there a way out for the couple? Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brian are mesmerising in this strange, sexy and darkly comic queer crime drama.

Love Lies Bleeding is playing in NFT 1 on Monday 18 March at 8:40pm and Tuesday 19 March at 3pm.


Amrou Al-Kadhi’s first feature considers the relationship between Palestinian-British drag performer Layla and their white, straightlaced new love interest, Max. Set against the backdrop of Feathers (a larger-than-life fictional queer space threatened by – the very real – spectre of gentrification), the pair meet when Layla performs an outrageous act at a drab corporate event. Thrown together by fate – and ready-meals – their curiosity gives way to full-blown attraction.

But Layla wears a dress made of karate belts and Max lives in a stylish minimalist apartment – their enjoyment of each other is increasingly complicated by urgent questions of difference, forcing both to confront the bittersweet nature of attraction. What does it mean to love someone? How much are you willing to compromise? And in the messy negotiation of tradition, gender presentation, and differing communities, who gains and who must leave a part of themselves behind?

Layla is playing in NFT 1 on Wednesday 13 March at 6pm and 8:50pm.


No-nonsense Lia, a retired teacher, turns up on the doorstep of affable aimless Achi, who lives in a Georgian backwater. Lia is trying to build bridges with her niece Tekla, a twenty-something trans woman who was regretfully banished years before. Achi remembers his neighbour and believes she has crossed the border. Spying an opportunity for escape, he offers to help Lia in her search.

With a half-baked plan and only a little money, tracking down Tekla sparks some soul-searching within them both, while their journey attracts both suspicion and generosity. Their best ally is trans lawyer Evrim, who works in an LGBTQIA+ centre, fighting for trans rights in an environment that forces many into survival sex work. The result is a compelling, character-driven drama and a superb follow-up to Akin’s lauded 2019 queer coming-of-age feature And Then We Danced.

Crossing is playing in NFT 1 on Sunday 17 March at 8:20pm and Thursday 21 March at 3:30pm.

BFI Flare Crossing
Crossing at BFI Flare (Image: Mubi)
Commitment to Life 

You might think you know this story, but you don’t. Alongside rare archival footage, this star-studded documentary features doctors, actors, long-time survivors, entertainment moguls and international superstars in revealing interviews, detailing the battle against AIDS. Community action was important, but it was the unlikely coalition of Joan Rivers, Elizabeth Taylor, and other Hollywood big names that really helped kickstart some enduring initiatives and real change.

Commitment to Life is playing in NFT 1 on Wednesday 20 March at 6pm and the Studio on Friday 22 March at 5:50pm.


Whether they are cis or trans, sharing memories or having voguing lessons, the inmates that feature in Lola Arias’ incredibly inventive film achieve something truly special. Their lived experiences are the launching pad for an imagined fantasy that gives a sense of freedom, both from prison bars and the shackles of genre. It’s a true statement of collective empowerment, with great musical numbers to boot.

Reas is playing in NFT 3 on Saturday 16 March at 2pm and the Studio on Monday 18 March 2024 at 8:45pm.

BFI Flare Reas
Reas at BFI Flare (Image: Luxbox)
Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero

In a world where being an openly gay Black rapper still feels like a rarity, Lil Nas X has faced more than his fair share of scrutiny. In this electrifying tour documentary, we see behind his witty – and occasionally controversial – online presence: a young gay man reconciling the price of fame and the musical prowess that got him there.

Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero is playing in NFT 1 on Wednesday 20 March at 9pm and the Studio on Saturday 23 March at 11:45am.

India’s 1st Best Trans Model Agency 

Filmed over seven years, this documentary charts Rudrani Chettri’s creation of her company, with her natural charisma catapulting her to fame as a trans activist. While she strives to free hijra from the traditional confines of performing blessings, begging, and survival sex work, the film considers the schisms within the culture, the myriad religious roots, and colonial attempts at erasure.

India’s 1st Best Trans Model Agency is playing in NFT 2 on Friday 22 March at 8:30pm and NFT 3 on Saturday 23 March at 6:25.

India’s 1st Best Trans Model Agency 
India’s 1st Best Trans Model Agency at BFI Flare (Image: Spring Films)
Desire Lines

Frustrated with suppressing his desires, Ahmad decides to consult history: are there documents relating to trans men in gay subcultural spaces? Can they help him untangle the knot of his desire? In doing so, he meets young researcher and activist Kieran, and through this budding relationship begins to question the binary narratives that stifle true self-knowledge and imprison love.

Desire Lines is playing in NFT 3 on Friday 15 March at 6:25pm and NFT 2 on Saturday 16 March at 12:10pm.

Desire Lines
Desire Lines at BFI Flare (Image: The Film Collaborative)
Woman Of… 

Aniela communicates her gender dysphoria as a child but meets resistance. Attempts to seek help in adulthood lead nowhere. Resigning herself to conformity with marriage and parenthood, she eventually sources hormones, transitioning in secret. Life gradually improves with the rise of the Solidarity movement, which serves as a metaphor for sensitive allyship and personal freedom. Małgorzata Hajewska is entrancing in this powerful, beautifully realised drama.

Woman Of… is playing in NFT 2 on Wednesday 20 March at 8:05pm and on Saturday 23 March at 12:55pm.

Solids By the Seashore 

The coastline near a small southern Thai town is rapidly eroding. Shati, a local Muslim woman, and Fon, a visiting artist, meet by chance and quickly develop a friendship. As Shati grapples with her feelings for Fon, strange otherworldly occurrences take place. The breathtaking visuals of the landscape, paired with a final scene that will linger in your mind for a long time, make this a must-see on the big screen.

Solids By the Seashore is playing in NFT 2 on Sunday 17 March at 6:20pm and in NFT 3 on Tuesday 19 March at 3:40pm.


The official Lithuanian selection for this year’s Oscars™, this rapturous film received its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. It begins with the meeting of interpretative dance teacher Elena and Dovydas, a sign-language interpreter. Over time, the two create their own form of intimacy, outside of heteronormative standards, but will it be enough for Elena?

Slow is playing in NFT 3 on Friday 15 March at 8:40pm and in NFT 2 on Sunday 17 March at 11:10am.

We Were Dangerous

Paying homage to the 1999 classic But I’m a Cheerleader, Josephine Stewart Te-Whiu’s drama depicts the chronicles of two Maˉori teenagers and a British lesbian, who form an unlikely friendship when they are sent off to a school for delinquent girls. Set in 1954, the film uses a light touch to deftly explore issues of class and racial privilege in New Zealand society.

We Were Dangerous is playing in NFT 2 on Thursday 21 March at 6:10pm and in NFT 3 on Saturday 23 March at 11:20am.

BFI Flare We Were Dangerous
We Were Dangerous at BFI Flare (Image: Piki Films Limited)
Hidden Master: The Legacy of George Platt Lynes

Platt Lynes (1907-55) seems to have known everyone in international queer society. Alongside portraits and fashion pictures that appeared in the leading society and cultural publications, Platt Lynes’ real passion was photographing the naked male: lovers, dancers, film stars, sailors and hustlers. Sam Shahid’s beautiful film is an eye-opening delight that reveals an exceptional gay artist.

Hidden Master: The Legacy of George Platt Lynes is playing in NFT 1 on Sunday 17 March at 5:30pm and in NFT 3 on Monday 18 March at 2:45pm.

Don’t Ever Stop

De Vit kept the ’90s generation dancing through the worst years of the AIDS epidemic. The story of his life is told in his own words and through interviews with those closest to him. This is a profoundly moving tale of hard beats, heavy living, ecstasy, and the continuing legacy of the late great DJ.

Don’t Ever Stop is playing in NFT 1 on Friday 22 March at 6:10pm and in NFT 2 on Saturday 23 March at 6:20pm.

Studio One Forever

Between 1974 and 1993, Studio One blazed a trail as the first and largest gay disco in the USA. It spanned the disco era to the AIDS crisis. Replete with excellent archival footage and great music, this riveting journey back in time features surviving staff and patrons, who tell their fascinating stories, alongside Chita Rivera, Thelma Houston, Bruce Vilanch, and the Village People’s Felipe.

Studio One Forever is playing in NFT 1 on Thursday 21 March at 8:50pm and on Friday 22 March at 3:20pm.

For full details about BFI Flare, click here. Tickets for BFI Flare will be available here.