BFI Flare 2021: The online line-up and how it works
James R | On 23, Feb 2021
BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival returns this March for an online edition.
Now in its 35th year, the festival will deliver virtual festival premieres of 26 feature films and 38 short films from 23 countries. Running from 17th to 28th March, the line-up includes the international premiere of Jump, Darling, Phil Connell’s directorial debut about a drag queen reconnecting with his ageing grandmother, the world premiere of Peeter Rebane’s Firebird, a love story set at the height of the Cold War, and the world premiere of Harri Shanahan and Sian A. Williams’ rousing documentary Rebel Dykes, charting the history of post-punk dyke culture in the UK. Also from the UK is Marley Morrison’s smart and funny debut feature Sweetheart, which played at the Glasgow Film Festival.
One of the key themes emerging from this year’s programme is strong representation of significant individuals and communities whose lives and work have had an impact on queer history and the ongoing fight for change and equality. This year’s programme aims to celebrate and elevate individuals whose lives and accomplishments are perhaps less well known, such as Gloria Allen, Connie Norman and Billy Tipton. Activists and campaigners Dr. Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings are also featured, as well as queer icons including ground breaking German Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Moomin’s creator Tove Jansson. A Los Angeles Act-Up organiser is remembered for her fierce resistance to both transphobia and the AIDS virus in Aids Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman, while No Ordinary Man tells the story of pioneering trans jazz musician Billy Tipton.
Once again, BFI Flare will be in partnership with the British Council to present Five Films For Freedom – five LGBTIQ+ themed short films available for the world to watch online for free for the duration of the festival. Available internationally via the British Council’s YouTube channel, Five Films For Freedom has been running since 2015 and the programme has seen nearly 15 million people viewing the films in more than 200 countries and principalities, including many parts of the world where homosexuality is
criminalised, and in some cases, punishable by the death penalty.
The festival’s own selection of short films will also be available for free on BFI Player throughout the Festival.
Each screening will take place on BFI Player and feature films will be available for ticket holders to watch at any time during the 12 days of the festival, with a 4-hour window to finish each film once they’ve started to watch it. Intros and Q&A’s with filmmaking talent and programmers will also be available, and videos will be closed captioned and audio described.
Tickets cost £10 per film (or £5 for those aged 25 and under or £8 for BFI patrons, champions and members) and a festival pass covering 10 films is available for £90 (or £70 for patrons, champions and members).
Here’s the full feature film line-up:
AIDS DIVA: The Legend of Connie Norman
A Los Angeles Act-Up organiser is remembered for her fierce resistance to both transphobia and the AIDS virus.
Boy Meets Boy
Two young men fall for each other over the course of a single day in this disarmingly tender debut from director Daniel Sánchez López.
Colors of Tobi
A mesmerising portrait of a family grappling with teenage gender dysphoria, this uplifting documentary exudes the defiant message that love is all you need.
Unfolding across the stunning mountain ranges of Montana, Anna Kerrigan’s gripping thriller finds a father and son attempting to escape a mother who is unwilling to accept her child’s gender dysphoria.
This astonishingly rich documentary explores the campaign by key US activists to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of mental illness.
Calling all drama geeks! This 90s-set teen dramedy is a fun-filled throwback to those most awkward of years.
The life and loves of celebrated filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder are laid bare in this engrossing, unconventional biopic.
At the height of the Cold War, a love triangle between a junior officer, his best friend and a handsome fighter pilot enters dangerous territory.
I Am Samuel
Kenyan couple Samuel and Alex remain committed to each other despite the danger and hardship facing them in Pete Murimi’s moving documentary portrait.
At 94, the late, great Cloris Leachman steals the show in this gloriously offbeat drama about a drag queen who takes time out to care for his wise-cracking grandma.
Kiss Me Before It Blows Up
Cultures clash and family secrets are revealed when Shira brings home her new girlfriend in this delightful first feature.
Luchina Fisher’s endearing documentary portrait shows how fighter, organiser and survivor Gloria Allen has become a local hero to younger Chicagoan trans women.
My First Summer
Amidst the grief of losing her mother, sheltered teen Claudia discovers friendship and love for the first time in this beautiful and sublime debut.
No Ordinary Man
The fascinating story of pioneering jazz musician Billy Tipton is brought thrillingly to life in this celebratory documentary portrait.
P. S. Burn This Letter Please
When a cache of letters written by 1950s New York drag queens was discovered in 2014, filmmakers Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera tracked down the authors to hear their story.
Based on a true story, Eugen Jebeleanu’s probing Bucharest-set drama weighs up the professional demands on a closeted police officer when his work clashes with his personal life.
A brilliant and refreshing story of UK post-punk dyke culture, told by those who lived it.
This hit New Zealand drama is a moving and entertaining account of a trans man’s attempts to reconnect with his Māori roots and to rebuild the relationships he had left behind.
Flare favourite Eytan Fox returns with an entertaining and heart-warming film about the encounter of a middle-aged gay man with a young, aspiring filmmaker.
AJ discovers it’s not so bad being on a family holiday when she meets flirtatious lifeguard Isla in this smart and funny first feature.
A nurse questions the intentions of his handsome new colleague in this taut and chilling psychological thriller.
Discovering a way to travel back in time helps Beth come to terms with her present in this daringly original debut.
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson
A young African American man is forced to repeatedly endure the fatal day of his shooting in Ali LeRoi’s riveting drama.
A lyrical and romantic biopic of the beloved creator of the Moomins featuring an incredible central performance by Alma Pöysti.
Young trans activist and Brazilian YouTube star Thiessa Woinbackk leads a superb cast in this impressive debut feature that sees a tough transgender teen demand her rights.
Body positivity, race, activism and queerness harmonise with full fat ferocity. No low-cal nonsense here – ‘Welcome to the sad femme club baby – YOU. ARE. ENOUGH!’