The 34th edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival has been cancelled as part of the social-distancing requirements of tackling the Covid-19 public health emergency.

It was scheduled to take place from 18-29 March.

The decision to cancel the festival came just before things were getting underway, and options are still be investigated to see how some of the films that were going to be showcased could still be shared with the festival’s audience.

Films that were going to be highlights of Flare 2020

Cicada

The World Premiere of Matt Fifer and Kieran Mulcare’s Cicada.

When Ben (Matt Fifer) and Sam (Sheldon D. Brown) randomly meet while browsing discount books at a street stall, they form an instant connection. But as they slowly let their guards down and reveal intimate details about their lives, both begin to recognise the need to confront past traumas if they are to truly let the other person in.

Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen

The screening of Sam Feder’s Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen. This film looks at trans representation in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender.

Leading trans thinkers and creatives, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Mj Rodriguez, Jamie Clayton and Chaz Bono share their reactions and resistance to some of Hollywood’s most beloved moments, tracing a history that is at once dehumanising, yet also evolving, complex, and sometimes humorous.

Summerland

Jessica Swale’s feature debut, Summerland. The film stars Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

In Kent, England 1940, fiercely independent writer Alice (Gemma Arterton) secludes herself in study: occupied by her work but also profoundly lonely, haunted by a love affair from her past. When spirited young Frank (Lucas Bond), an evacuee from the London Blitz, is dumped into her irritable care, his innocence and wonder awaken Alice’s deeply buried emotions. Bravely embracing life’s miraculous unpredictability, Alice learns that wounds may be healed, and that hope and second chances do exist.

Films for Freedom – London’s queer film festival is changing the world

Three new short films have been commissioned as part of the FiveFilms4Freedom project. Funded by London’s queer film festival BFI Flare and the British Council, FiveFilms4Freedom has been running since 2015.

The new commissions explore themes including sexuality and conflict, intergenerational gay culture, and migration and family ties. They include two documentaries and one fiction project, with collaborations between UK filmmakers and Syrian, Palestinian and South African filmmakers currently based in Lebanon, Israel, and South Africa.

The three selected projects have each been awarded a grant from the British Council of £10,500 to cover all stages of production. Each team has been working with Executive Producer Loran Dunn whose support has been provided alongside their funding, to mentor both team and project from script through to edit. The projects are due for delivery in February 2020, with the possibility of screening at next year’s BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival in March, as well as appearing alongside the 2020 #FiveFilms4Freedom campaign.

Selected Projects

The Men Who Speak Gayle

  • Director Andrew Brukman, writer/storyteller Nathan Kennedy, producers Thembisa Cochrane and Georgie Paget.

Young drag performer Nathan is one of the last people to speak Gayle – a secret language the gay community were forced to invent during Apartheid. He finds out about Louis, an original Gayle speaker living in a conservative desert town in South Africa and wants to put on a performance with him. These men, two generations apart and from different cultural and racial backgrounds have never met – and have no idea how the town will react.

Let My Body Speak

  • Director Madonna Adib, producer Noe Mendelle.

Our bodies store memories. The body does not forget. A childhood in Damascus, OCD, the revolution, falling in love with a woman. My body remembers, it keeps the trauma. And after all the losses, I had to start listening to my body.

Nowhere

  • Writer-director Christopher Manning, producer Garry Paton, co-producers Laura Samara Hawa and Baher Agbariya.

A young Palestinian woman crosses the Israeli border illegally to find her long-lost brother, who she hopes will be her ticket to a new life far from the West Bank. When she discovers the truth behind his exiled existence, her dreams of a happy reunion are shattered, and she must face her next steps alone.

Five Films For Freedom

The Five Films For Freedom digital campaign has generated views from nearly 14 million people since 2015.

“One of the unexpected pleasures of our Five Films For Freedom programme so far has been witnessing just how universal LGBTQ experience is wherever you are in the world…” says Briony Hanson, Director of Film at the British Council.

“Five Films For Freedom has brought moving, provocative, beautiful stories with global LGBTQ perspectives to audiences worldwide…” adds Tricia Tuttle, BFI Festivals Director.

This year’s Five Films For Freedom programme comprises a mix of drama and documentary.

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Irish drama capturing a family’s voyage through gender identity, modern adolescence and parental expectation. Director Sarah-Jane Drummey gives viewers an emotional glimpse into protagonist Jack’s journey to win the love and acceptance of their parents.

After That Party

Brazilian director Caio Scot tells the moving story of a man on a mission to find the perfect way to tell his father he knows the truth about his sexuality.

Pxssy Palace

UK documentary from Laura Kirwan-Ashman, co-founder of female film collective Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah, offering a unique insight into the London-based QTIPOC (queer, trans, intersex, people of colour) collective and eponymous club night.

Something In The Closet

British writer and director Nosa Eke’s short film sees a queer teenager struggle with her sexuality as her desires begin to manifest themselves in unsettling ways.

When Pride Came To Town

Award-winning directors Julia Dahr and Julie Lunde Lillesæter provide a provocative yet heart-warming account of Norway’s rural Pride network through the eyes of 52-year-old Bjørn-Tore, shedding light on the ongoing battle for gay rights in one of Europe’s most liberal countries.

All of the Five Films For Freedom will be available to view from 18 – 29 March 2020 via the British Council Arts YouTube channel