BFI Flare: LGBTQIA+ Film Festival announces full programme

The 36th edition of the festival runs from 16-27 March 2022.


Words: Alastair James; pictures: A still from Matt Carter’s In From The Side/Provided

The BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival has announced its full programme for the 36th edition of the festival, which will take place from 16-27 March. 

The programme was announced this evening (Tuesday 15 February) with a launch event at the BFI Southbank as well as a virtual event on the BFI Flare Facebook and BFI YouTube.

Previously, it has been announced that Girl Picture and Tramps! will respectively open and close Flare, with both getting their premieres at the festival. 

Esther Newton Made Me Gay (Photo: BFI Flare)

This year's event will include six world premieres, 56 features, and 84 shorts from 42 countries. The festival will be divided into three thematic strands: Hearts, Bodies, and Minds. 

The first will focus on films about love, romance, and friendship; the second on stories of sex, identity, and transformation, and the last will feature reflections on art, politics and community.

Jean Carlomusto’s Esther Newton Made Me Gay is among the films getting a premiere. Organisers describe it as "exuding wisdom, passionate enquiry and a healthy dose of New York no-nonsense in this celebratory portrait of the pioneering octogenarian American academic whose life work has formed the bedrock of LGBTQIA+ cultural anthropology."

Director Matt Carter’s In From The Side explores the lives of a London gay rugby team on and off the pitch, revealing the many different games that people play.

In From The Side (Photo: BFI Flare)

Jacquie Lawrence’s Gateways Grind joins Sandi Toksvig as she uncovers the history of the legendary Gateways club, one of the longest-running lesbian clubs.

Exploring previously unknown stories and queer history will get a greater spotlight at the festival as well.  

The documentary, Jimmy in Saigon sees filmmaker Peter McDowell learn to understand the truth behind his brother’s mysterious death, while Robin Hunzinger’s Ultraviolette and the Blood-Spitters Gang reveals the story of his grandmother’s rebellious schoolgirl sweetheart, Marcelle in the 1920s.

Gateways Grind (Photo: BFI Flare)

Other films will see Hollywood’s queer hidden history being explored, a re-enactment of forgotten trans history, as well as a look into the queer women who have and continue to shape modern music. 

Fanny: The Right to Rock celebrates one of the first all-female bands to release an album in the US and who were championed by David Bowie, who claimed they were as important as The Beatles.

On a more modern note, Charli XCX: Alone Together follows the 'Good Ones' singer as she teams up with her queer fans across the world to create an album during lockdown.

From the archives comes Mohamed Camara’s 1997 queer African cinema classic Dakan. Considered West Africa’s first film about homosexuality, organisers say the screening offers a chance to reassess the film's significance. It was defunded by the Guinean government at the time and protested against during production.

"In reflecting on the past, we can better understand the present"

Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s Senior Programmer says: "A recurring theme in BFI Flare 2022 is the rediscovery of forgotten queer histories, and recognition of the LGBTQIA+ trailblazers whose pioneering work has so often gone overlooked.

"In reflecting on the past, we can better understand the present, appreciating how far we have come, whilst acknowledging how much is still left to do. At the heart of this year’s festival is a glorious celebration of a collective queer history we cannot take for granted."

Tricia Tuttle, the BFI Festivals Director adds: "This year’s programme really does deliver something for every queer audience and cinema fan – rousing personal stories and bold, adventurous filmmaking alike."

BFI Flare will also include a wide range of events, talks, and debates, with topics ranging from lost stories, intersex, queer women in music, and also the Big Gay Film Quiz.

BFI Flare Shorts programme also returns with 12 categories: Family Affairs, Now and Forever, Once More with Feeling, Paths to Love, Where Do We Go From Here?, Everything Changes, Parallel Lives, Strength in Vulnerability, There is No Place Like Home, Drawn Together, Out Here Livin', and Sweet Melodies. 

The 36th edition of the festival runs from 16-27 March 2022. For more information, visit the official website.