Romelly Eavis

BFI Flare’s 2020 programme focuses on politics, resistance and rebellion

The UK’s premier LGBTIQ+ film festival returns with over 50 features, 85 shorts and a wide range of special events.

On a gloomy Tuesday evening, invited guests were met with colour and warmth at the programme launch for this year’s BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival.

Now in its 34th year, and the biggest festival of its kind, BFI Flare sets a global precedent when it comes to showcasing LGBTIQ+ talent. Split across three strands – Hearts, Bodies and Minds – with additional Special Presentations, the festival promises a “strong political spirit” and emphasis that places “activism, resistance and rebellion” at its core.

Opening the festival is Matthew Fifer’s debut feature Cicada, a profoundly moving character study in which a new relationship opens up old wounds. Sam Feder’s Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen pays direct heed to the festival’s resounding spirit of activism, dealing directly with damaging stereotypes throughout the course of film and television history.

Particularly alluring is the Hearts programme – a selection of films that place love, romance and friendship at their centre. Amongst the lineup is quirky comedy, Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), a promising first feature from Monica Zanetti that sees the titular Ellie garner uninvited dating advice from her very own fairy godmother, or rather, her very own dead lesbian aunt, Tara.

Justine looks to be a poignant story of love and inner turmoil, whilst Moffie, Oliver Hermanus’ barbaric but beautiful fourth feature follows Nicholas, drafted for compulsory military service in 1980s apartheid South Africa. The brutality of the training is unsparing, but Nicholas soon develops a relationship with another recruit that brings him comfort and relief; a relationship that must be kept completely secret.

If you’re looking to break up your film viewing, Drag Queen Story Time, based on Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions’ Drag Queen Story Hour, is a family-friendly space that aims to engage with ‘difference’ in an optimistic way, championing positivity through the medium of storytelling.

The 34th BFI Flare runs 18-29 March at BFI Southbank. Tickets go on sale 27 Feb via bfi.org.uk/flare

Published 19 Feb 2020

Tags: BFI BFI Flare LGBTQ+ Queer Cinema

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