SPOTLIGHT ON: 37th BFI Flare Film Festival

Brian Butler March 3, 2023

This year’s BFI Flare LGBTQ+ film festival – the 37th – runs from 15-26 March at London’s Southbank and on BFI player.

The opening night film will be The Stroll, a highly resonant documentary. The centrepiece movie will be the intimate documentary Who I Am Not and the closing night film will be Drifter. The Stroll, by Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker, won the US Special Jury Award at last month’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s a stunning and deeply personal film about New York City’s Meatpacking District, from the point of view of the Trans women of colour who lived and worked there. It uncovers the violence, homelessness and gentrification such women overcame to build a movement for Transgender rights.

Who I Am Not, by Tunde Skovran, gets its UK premiere. It’s an intimate portrait of the lives of two Intersex South Africans and the challenges they face, navigating Binary sex and gender systems. It focuses on beauty queen Sharon-Rose Khumalo and Intersex rights activist Dimakatso Sebide, as we witness the various medical, societal and personal challenges they face.

Hannes Hirsch’s film Drifter is a coming-of-age story with a difference, It tells of 22-year-old Moritz, who is excited to be moving to Berlin with his boyfriend. But when the relationship quickly falls apart, he begins an odyssey of new relationships in a city full of possibilities. He discovers the joys of sexual abandon and with each new encounter, straight, gay, plus a flirtation with S & M, he finds out more about himself.

The festival also includes Flare Expanded, with 3D artefacts and stories from Queer creatives, which you interact with  via headphones. Chroma II tells the story of two gay dancers, one of whom dies. It’s a documentary accompanied by a VR experience, connecting the two lovers. We Are Here Because Of Those Who Are Not gives us Black Trans peoples’ stories. The Expanded series runs 16-19 March.

The festival’s films are divided into thematic strands. Hearts is about love in all its forms, including a look at Queer motherhood in the pandemic and Jess Plus None, a Queer romcom, centring on a  pressure-cooker of a wedding. The Chambermaid is a Lesbian coming-of-age World War I drama. The Fabulous Ones is a delightful look at an older Trans women’s reunion.

The Body strand of films includes Fierce – A porn revolution, where a young woman and an Enby start a porn film company. Le Beau Mec is a rediscovery of a lost masterpiece of vintage gay porn. Rudolf Nureyev’s last lover Wallace Potts directed hot hunk Karl Forest in this Parisian porno movie, with choreography by the ballet maestro himself.

Narcissism – The Autoerotic Images – is a deep exploration of autoeroticism and self-love. What’s wrong with a keen engagement with one’s own image, the film asks. Winter Boy, is about  17-year-old Lucas , a grieving teenager who finds gay casual sex in the city. Big Boys shows us plus-size Queer men, and XX + XY is an Intersex drama.  Something You Said Last Night is an Italian Trans beach drama. Willem and Frieda is a story of a gay artist and and a Lesbian musician, standing up to the Nazis in war-time Holland, It’s narrated by Stephen Fry .

The Shorts strand includes the intriguingly titled Where Do All The Old Gays Go?

And there are many more events, including talks, Q and A sessions and even a quiz and DJ nights.

More information and tickets at