What to See at BFI Flare LGBTIQ+ Film Festival

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Photo Source: Lionsgate. Pictured – Gemma Arterton in Summerland

The following announcement was made on 16 March 2020:

The BFI has taken the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, owing to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is our original article:

It’s that time of year again, when the South Bank gets taken over by the full fabulous force of BFI Flare, London’s annual LGBTIQ+ film festival. Now in its 34th year, 2020 Flare will present over 50 features, 85 shorts, and a wide range of talks, events, and club nights. Running over 12 days from 18–29 March, there’s an awful lot to take in, but don’t worry – as usual, Backstage has your back. Here are our picks and highlights from this year’s BFI Flare.

Premieres and highlights
As with many film festivals, the big, showy titles often open and close proceedings, and Flare is no exception. Kicking off the festival is the world premiere of Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare’s feature debut Cicada, about a young man forced to face past traumas when he embarks on a new relationship.

Twelve days later, the festival closes with the British premiere of acclaimed theatre director Jessica Swale’s Summerland starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Set during World War II, it’s the story of a “fiercely independent writer” whose life is changed when she has to care for an evacuee. It’s also Swale’s debut as a feature director.

Other festival highlights include Lingua Franca, the story of a Filipina transwoman living under the radar in New York, and Matthias & Maxime, the eighth film from directorial hot shot Xavier Dolan, which follows the unexpected repercussions of a kiss between two childhood friends.  

READ: The Future of Trans Actor Visibility 

Crowd-pleasers
If Henry Golding rocks your boat, be sure to catch Monsoon. Set in Vietnam, it’s a romance dealing with bereavement, cultural displacement, and – hopefully – some long lingering shots of the far-too-handsome Golding looking tortured.

Another probable crowd-pleaser is teen romcom Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt). Australian director Monica Zanetti’s comedy takes on the tricky issue of when to accept romantic advice from your dead aunt. Like we said – tricky. 

A highlight of the festival’s documentary selection is Disclosure, the latest doc from acclaimed director Sam Feder. Produced by trans star Laverne Cox, the film looks the history of how trans people have been depicted by Hollywood and on TV, and features interviews with big names such as Chaz Bono and the Wachowski sisters. Tickets promise to be much in demand. 

Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s Senior Programmer, says: “This year’s festival feels more relevant than ever with filmmakers reflecting moving, urgent stories about LGBTIQ+ lives. We are privileged to share such a wide range of films from around the world that will entertain, provoke, perhaps most importantly, help us better understand ourselves and each other.”

Offscreen event
Offscreen, Flare certainly knows how to put on a memorable night. On March 23 there’s Flare’s Big Gay Film Quiz, which promises this year to be “bigger, gayer, and quizzier than ever.” Other event highlights include the Showgirls Shade-Along (we can only imagine), Drag Queen Story Time and club nights run by Club Kali and the Batty Mama.  

If all that sounds like your kind of thing then tickets are now available to the general public, and if you’re 25 or under you can get seats for just £3. Bargain!

More for UK actors? Check out the magazine.