The 37th edition of the BFI Flare: LGBTQIA+ Film Festival is firmly underway.
The festival launched on Wednesday (15 March) with the international premiere of the Sundance award-winning documentary, The Stroll.
There is also a great series of events running across the festival’s duration (15-26 March)
Additionally, BFI Flare Expanded (16-19 March) offers a unique set of interactive experiences – a must-try.
With so many films to choose from it can be hard to know where to begin. So, here are five films we think are well worth seeing.
Are UFO abductions real? Winona J is convinced they are. So, she convinces her sarcastic neighbour Peter to join her on an epic road trip from New York to Canada, where she hopes to find ‘the bridge people’. As a series of perplexing and unexpected encounters blur the line between fantasy and reality, Peter is left unsure if he is stuck in a loop, dreaming or simply high on drugs. Despite the playful surrealism of its premise, at its core Unidentified Objects grapples with grief, loneliness and systemic bias, but it never feels heavy in delivering its message. Visually stunning and wickedly humorous, this unpredictable rollercoaster ride will keep you captivated until the very end. It may even leave you questioning your own sense of reality.
Director Juan Felipe Zuleta told Attitude:
“Our film is a platonic love-story-dark-comedy about finding your place in this world.
“If you’ve ever felt like an outsider – or like an unidentified object – I’d love to see you at the theater.
“This festival has been on my radar since we wrapped production. I’m very excited that the premiere is finally here.”
Just hours before leaving his humble Maine town for the bright lights of LA, budding porn star Benjamin spends a final night with best friend Dom. As they reminisce on old times and speculate about the future, hints of lingering regrets and unexpressed feelings hang in the evening air. But wistful longing can wait, as Dom has a plan to ensure his bestie leaves with a little cash in his pocket. All they have to do is deliver a package across the border. But what exactly is in that package? Innately and unapologetically queer in a way that few horror films truly are, this wickedly subversive, playfully allegorical tale of bodily infection, invasion and infestation is not for the squeamish. For the viscera-friendly, prepare for your flesh to creep, your skin to crawl, and perhaps even for your heart to break.
Swallowed will be out on 24 April. Check out the new UK trailer below:
Best friends and old-school drag duo Chrissy and Judy are inseparable. Or they are until Chrissy abruptly announces he’s moving to Philadelphia to take a chance on a relationship, leaving Judy to go it solo both in drag and life. Judy finds himself on an odyssey through the queer communities of New York, Provincetown, and Fire Island, attempting to find his ‘people’, love, his niche in the drag scene, and, most importantly, find himself. Chrissy Judy addresses friendship breakups and millennial messiness with poignancy and a wry, distinct sense of humour.
La Beau Mec
The facts behind Le Beau Mec are just as extraordinary as the viewing experience. Rudolf Nureyev’s last lover Wallace Potts directed hot hunk Karl Forest in this Parisian porno – featuring choreography by the Russian legend – that included camerawork by legendary cinematographer Néstor Almendros (Days of Heaven, The Blue Lagoon, Sophie’s Choice). Until very recently an almost-lost film, surviving only in decaying VHS tapes, collector Gerry Herman’s lengthy search finally uncovered some prints. Forest’s titular ‘handsome guy’ recounts a series of erotic episodes, memorable sexual encounters in parks, clubs, a gym, a hotel, and also a fetish club. Remarkable for the beauty of its images and the dynamic range of passionate lovemaking, this is a dream of a film.
BFI Flare programmer, Brian Robinson, commented on the film to Attitude:
“Before the internet, these films were shot and edited wholly on film and screened in cinemas. This is also a rare opportunity to see the film on the big screen. As it was meant to be seen. Almost no one has seen the film since its original release in cinemas in 1979.
“The film is a time capsule of what gay fantasies were almost 50 years ago and it’s still sexy. The range of encounters and body types is a refreshing antidote to the blandness of some contemporary porn production. From sex in the Foreign Legion to open-air cruising and a fetish club there’s plenty to admire and enjoy.”
How To Tell a Secret
Profoundly moving and inspiring, How to Tell a Secret is cleverly constructed around Dunne’s stage play, Rapids. Actors speak the words of people who can’t acknowledge their HIV status in public. This contrasts with activists – young and old – determined to break down the need for the secrecy around HIV. The lack of education around the topic, the terror of first diagnosis, and the search for community support are themes explored here. The world needs to understand the message that HIV is easier to live with than diabetes. Also, drug therapy renders the virus impossible to transmit. Courage, friendship, and a passionate engagement with history are all on display in this moving and compelling film.
We hope that give you a flavor of what you can find at BFI Flare.
The full programme for BFI Flare is available here with tickets on sale now.