The Bite Magazine - Autmn/Winter 2020 - Issue 28

BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ + Film Festival Giedre Jackyte reviews four films from the BFI Flare Festival. bitefilmreview B FI (British Film Institute) is the leading or- ganisation for films in the UK, supporting production, distribution, education, and audience development. Since 1933, they have managed the BFI National Archive and celebrat- ed the best of both British and international film- making through festivals, film restoration, DVD releases and cinema programming. One of their programs is BFI Flare: London LG- BTIQ + Film Festival that began in 1986 as Gay’s Own Pictures and is the longest-running film festival with an LGBT focus. By its 3rd edition, it was tagged the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and since then, it has become the largest and most anticipated LGBTIQ+ film event in the UK. The festival changed its name to BFI Flare in 2014 to reflect the increasing diversity of its films, filmmakers and audience. This year’s festival which was scheduled to run from 18th to 29thMarch planned to show some of the world’s most iconic shorts and feature-length films but was cancelled due to the lockdown. In- stead, festival organisers gave bookers, and other viewers access to several of the tremendous LGB- TIQ+ shorts on BFI Player in the comfort of their homes that would have screened at BFI Flare. New works included Levan Akin’s exquisite Geor- gian-set romance and Cannes Film Festival win- ner, And Then We Danced, Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s deliciously enigmatic cham- ber piece Don’t Look Down, and Daniel Karslake’s powerful documentary, For They Know Not What They Do, centred on four LGBTIQ+ individuals who experienced bruising encounters with or- ganised religion. BFI Flare at Home also showcased an existing collection of favourites from previous BFI Flare Festivals, queer film classics, and the free BFI National Archive curated LGBT Britain on Film Collection that gave viewers access to over 230 films in total. Through its social media channels, BFI Flare hosted live Q&As with filmmakers and offered daily programme recommendations of work from the BFI Player Flare collections. It also brought the party vibe to house parties and liv- ing rooms everywhere with a closing night DJ set made available as a Spotify playlist. Five Films For Freedom, the world’s most exten- sive LGBTIQ+ digital campaign marked its sixth year by broadcasting five brand new LGBTIQ+ short films to countries around the world, includ- ing those where homosexuality remains illegal. With these new titles, filmmakers from Norway, Ireland, Brazil, and the UK came together to ex- plore compelling LGBTIQ+ realities, from navi- gating family relationships to the struggle for and celebration of sexual freedom. The British Coun- cil also made these films available across their global digital networks free of charge, which was available on BFI Player as well. A few of the films shown this year deserve special mention, amongst whom are Blood Sisters, 2 Dol- lars, After That Party, and Bathroom Privileges. Twenty-five years after its release, Blood Sisters, Michelle Handelman’s ground-breaking docu- mentary on the San Francisco leather dyke scene is as vital as ever. While 2 Dollars, After That Party and Bathroom Privileges represent a more mod- ern, fresh worldview and a need for representa- tion and acceptance in today’s society, written and directed by rising filmmakers.