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BFI Flare celebrates audience growth during 2024 LGBTQIA+ Film Festival

BFI recorded an 87% occupancy at BFI Southbank, up from 85% in 2023

By Alastair James

BFI Flare
Luke Willis and Lady Camden at the premiere of Lady Like (Image: Millie Turner)

Organisers of the BFI Flare have celebrated another year of growth for the London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival.

The 38th edition ran at BFI Southbank and online between 13 and 24 March. Over 12 days there were 58 features and 81 shorts screened from 41 countries. There were five World Premieres, 2 International premieres, 6 European Premieres, and 23 UK premieres.

BFI Flare organisers have noted that 28,125 people watched online or attended screenings and events. BFI Flare recorded an 87% occupancy at BFI Southbank, up from 85% in 2023. Over half of those booking tickets (54%) were brand new as well.

The 2024 Opening Night film was Amrou Al-Kadhi’s Layla, which was fresh from its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Meanwhile, Lady Like, which focused on the story of RuPaul’s Drag Race star Lady Camden acted as the Closing Night film.

Among the other highlights of BFI Flare were two Special Presentations. The first was Levan Akin’s impressive fourth feature Crossing. The second was the European Premiere of Elliot Page’s Close To You. Both explored moving and at times emotional trans narratives, shining a valuable spotlight. Page also joined BFI in person for an insightful and entertaining Screen Talk about Close To You and his career.

Five Films For Freedom, which sees five films from BFI Flare made available worldwide online celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2024. The 2024 selection of this landmark initiative with the British Council featured films from the Philippines, India, Spain, USA, and the UK. Early viewing figures indicate the programme has attracted more than three million views. This global movement has attracted over 25 million views in the last ten years, with audiences joining together to celebrate love as a human right. 

The BFI Flare x BAFTA in partnership with the BFI Network development programme also marked 10 years in 2024. Travis Alabanza, Isabella Bassett, Zak Ghazi-Torbati, Cherish Oteka, Miles Sloman, and Charlie Tidmas make up this year’s cohort. They will get a chance to explore the realities of producing LGBTQIA+ work in the UK today. They will also develop and strengthen professional networks.