Film festivals are great things. Film-makers get to showcase their work to an audience they may not be able to reach otherwise whilst audiences get to see films they may not be exposed to in a regular, multiplex cinema. It’s one of the vital ways the independent film industry keeps going in a world where the box office is dominated by blockbuster movies by major film companies. The fresh perspectives that are arguably lost in the major releases get have a platform through the countless film festivals around the world. One film festival that is upcoming is the 31st BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, the largest LGBT film event in the United Kingdom. This year marks 50 years since the creation of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which decriminalised private homosexual acts in England and Wales. This anniversary, and much more, is being marked in this upcoming festival.
There is a wide variety of films on offer at this festival from around the world that displays the ongoing struggle many LGBT people experience everyday for basic human rights. Some of those films include forbidden love during Iraq War film Out of Iraq, The Pearl of Africa which follows the story of the first transgender woman in Uganda and Against The Law which is an adaptation of Peter Wildeblood’s memoir which details the relationship that landed him in prison. There are a plethora of other films to check out depending on what you’re up for watching. If you’re interesting in films on love, friendship and romance then you can check out titles like Handsome Devil, Heartland, Dear Dad, Being 17 and Seventeen. If you want to check out films about sex, transformation and identity you can check out films like Miles, The Handmaiden, Body Electric, Below Her Mouth and Raising Zoey. If you’re more interested in politics, art and community you can see films like The Slippers, Waiting For B, Two Soft Things Two Hard Things and Last Man Standing.
Along with all the films on offer, there are a number of intriguing talks run by people well versed in the topics including a talk on anti-pornographic censorship laws and their effect on the LGBT community, previously hidden queer-centric films from the silent era of cinema, the experience of transitioning and more. The rich variety that BFI Flare offers is not only encouraging for fellow LGBT film-makers, audiences and critics such as myself but it’s also really important to everyone else. The LGBT community may have made strides but there are still struggles with many countries with very discriminatory laws in place. To be a true ally and get some grasp of the LGBT experience, festivals like this are a must to attend so one can see the perspectives you’re trying to understand.
BFI FLARE: LONDON LGBT FILM FESTIVAL 2017
16th – 26th March 2017