More Films for Freedom: BFI and British Council release LGBTQ+ shorts
James R | On 10, Jun 2020
The BFI and British Council are teaming up to release More Films for Freedom, three short films exploring LGBTQ+ stories.
The three new shorts are commissioned by the British Council, BFI Flare Festival and BFI NETWORK. The cross-cultural collaborations between UK-based LGBTQ+ filmmakers and storytellers from countries in Africa and the Middle East will stream free of charge for a month each on the British Council’s Arts YouTube channel and on BFI Player to coincide with Pride.
The initiative builds on the successful Five Films for Freedom, the world’s widest-reaching LGBTQ+ online film campaign, run by the British Council and BFI. Since its launch in 2015, this annual digital screening has been viewed by over 14 million people in more than 200 countries, including places where homosexuality remains illegal. More Films for Freedom was pioneered in response to a gap in projects and stories originating from Africa and the Middle East.
The three debut films have been developed separately with filmmakers in the UK collaborating independently with Palestinian, South African and Syrian filmmakers. They explore compelling LGBTQ+ realities amidst themes of gender, freedom and global human rights:
The teams behind the films were selected for their uniquely collaborative international approach to filmmaking and, as part of the commission, worked with BFI Vision awardee Loran Dunn as Executive Producer.
Briony Hanson, Director Film, British Council, said: “Our More Films for Freedom campaign is so special because it allows us to connect UK filmmakers and those in under-represented regions of the Middle East and Africa to tell their LGBTQ+ stories. With lots of Pride events around the world cancelled this year due to Covid-19, what better way to bring global LGBTQ+ communities together than through the power of film.”
Michael Blyth, Senior Programmer, BFI Flare, added: “For the past six years, Five Films for Freedom has allowed BFI Flare to spread our message of love and hope by sharing films with millions of people across the world. With More Films for Freedom, we have had an incredible opportunity expand on that project, helping filmmakers to create powerful new stories, confronting issues around human rights and social change which have always been such an essential part of what we do at the Festival.”
The three films will released in sequence, starting on 15th June and ending on 14th September.
Here’s the line-up:
Nowhere (15th June to 14th July
Written and directed by award-winning Christopher Manning, this short drama tells the story of a young Palestinian woman who crosses the Israeli border to find her long-lost brother.
The Men Who Speak Gayle (15th July to 14th August)
Young drag performer Nathan and retired airline steward Louis bond through Gayle, a secret language created by the gay community during Apartheid South Africa, in this documentary by Andrew Brukman.
Let My Body Speak (15th August to 14th September)
Syrian refugee Madonna Adib writes and directs this personal account of the experiences her body stores – from her childhood in Damascus, battling OCD, witnessing the Syrian revolution, and falling in love with a woman.