Opening 21-31st March, BFI Flare, London’s premier LGBTQ+ film festival will screen the latest LGBTQ+ films at BFI Southbank. The international line-up of films offers a nuanced glimpse into the lives, joys and struggles of the LGBTQ+ community. Due to the predominance of male gay characters in LGBT films, this year’s festival focuses on the other members of the gay community, giving a much-needed voice to women and genderqueer folks.
BFI Flare’s opening night begins with the UK premiere of director Chanya Button’s Vita and Virginia. Inspired by the true story of the relationship between literary genius Virginia Woolf and the aristocratic Vita Sackville-West, this contemporary reimagining of this passionate relationship stars Elizabeth Dubicki as Woolf, and Gemma Arterton as the enigmatic Vita. The film celebrates this unorthodox bond, exploring the intersection of artistic creativity and sexual passion, tearing down social boundaries with their taboo relationship.
The main bulk of the programme consists of three themes. Films from the ‘Heart’ theme present a snapshot of the myriad relationships that LGBT folks encounter throughout their lives. Noteworthy films include the gripping Splinters, by award-winning director Thom Fitzgerald, a Canadian drama about a bisexual woman and her rural family’s struggle with her sexuality, and We the Animals, by Emmy-nominated director Jeremiah Zagar, evoking a tale of a young boy facing the truth of his sexuality in the midst of his hyper-masculine brothers. These sharply perceptive films elucidate the daily relationships with their friends, families and wider communities, accentuating relational tensions and resolutions, confidence and fears of their sexual identities.
Films from the ‘Bodies’ theme explores narratives of sexual identity and transformation. No Box for Me. An Intersex Story is a must-watch documentary that sheds light on intersex individuals, deconstructing the paradigm of gender binaries in our society, and challenging forced surgical interventions. The critically acclaimed debut feature Girl, by director Lukas Dhont, brings us into the shoes of a ballerina transitioning during her teenage years, inspired by the real-life story of Nora Monsecour. It portrays the toll of strenuous physical demands of a ballerina, compounded by the sluggish pace of transitioning. These films are bold explorations of sexual fluidity, and a critique of traditional gender metanarratives that marginalize non-cisgender individuals.
‘Minds’ showcases the LGBT community’s sophisticated reflections on politics, art and culture. For lovers of avant-garde films, Escape from Rented Island: The Lost Paradise of Jack Smith presents an experimental film essay that restores filmmaker Jack Smith’s works, compiled by the seasoned Queer Cinema filmmaker Jerry Tartaglia. This work juxtaposes Smith’s own recorded musings on various issues, with footage from his corpus of 1960s experimental films and theatre works. For those fascinated with the relationship between the LGBT community and the rise in right-wing politics in America, Transmilitary offers a glimpse into transgender soldiers who risk their military careers in their fight for their rights in the United States military. The film explores the ironic fact that the military is the largest employer of transgender individuals, yet simultaneously operates within a binary-gendered paradigm.
Screening days and times:
Vita and Virginia
- Thursday, 21st March 18:15, NFT1
- Thursday 21st March 21:00, NFT1
- Friday, 22nd March 14:00, NFT1
- Tuesday, 26th March 20:30, NFT3
- Thursday, 28th March 20:40 NFT2
We the Animals
- Friday, 29th March 18:30, NFT3
- Saturday, 30 March 1820, NFT3
No Box for Me. An Intersex Story
- Monday, 25th March, 20:50, Studio
- Tuesday, 26 March 18:15, NFT3
- Thursday, 28 March 18:30, Studio
- Friday, 22 March 18:00, Studio
- Sunday, 31st March 13:30, NFT3
Escape from Rented Island: The Lost Paradise of Jack Smith
- Saturday, 23rd March 16:30, NFT3
- Sunday, 24th March 20:50, Studio
- Wednesday, 27th March 18:15, NFT2
- Saturday, 30th March 12:00 NFT3
Tickets go on sale from 28th of February for non-Member bookings at 11:30 AM. Second ticket releases at Thursday 14th march at 11:30 AM. To book: visit British Film Institute’s website at http://www.bfi.org.uk/flare.