A powerful new BBC Two drama based on the 1954 trial of Conservative English politician Lord Montagu for gay sex offences will have its world premiere at the BFI Flare’s LGBT film festival in London next month.
Against the Law, starring Daniel Mays and directed by Fergus O’Brien, will be shown on the opening night gala of the UK’s longest running LGBT film event, which this year takes place at BFI Southbank between 16-26 March.
The drama follows the story of gay journalist Peter Wildeblood (Rogue One’s Daniel Mays) whose lover Eddie McNally (Richard Gadd), under pressure from authorities, gave evidence against him, Montagu, and Michael Pitt-Rivers, in one of the most explosive court cases of the 1950s.
With his career and personal life in tatters, Wildeblood began his sentence a broken man, but he emerged from prison a year later determined to do all he could to change the way Britain’s draconian laws against homosexuality impacted on the lives of men like him.
Clare Stewart, head of festivals at the BFI, said: “Against the Law is the perfect opening night film, a powerful British production that elegantly combines factual and historical drama, marking a key moment in the struggle for LGBT rights in the UK – an anniversary the BFI will also be commemorating with a season of film and TV this summer.”
Against the Law also features Mark Gatiss (Taboo, Sherlock) as Wildeblood’s prison psychiatrist, Doctor Landers and Charlie Creed-Miles (Ripper Street, Peaky Blinders) as Superintendent Jones.
Part of the powerful drama will be real-life testimonies from a chorus of men who lived through those dark days, when homosexuals were routinely imprisoned or forced to undergo chemical aversion therapy in an attempt to cure them of their ‘condition’.
It will also include testimony from a retired police officer whose job it was to enforce these laws, and a former psychiatric nurse who administered the so-called cures. All of the accounts add to the drama and show the dark reality of the past that people alive today went through.
The BFI Flare in London with show a total 56 feature films, an expanded industry programme, selected films on BFI Player VOD service, a series of special events and archive screenings. The full programme of events will be available on Thursday 15th February 2017.
Against the Law is set to hit UK screens on BBC Two later in the year.