BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival concluded on Sunday, March 29 with the European premiere of Malcolm Ingram’s new documentary, Out To Win, celebrating the battle for equality by LGBT sports people.
SPECIAL guests included director Malcolm Ingram and basketball star John Amaechi. The Closing Night screening broke all box office records in the festival’s 29 years, with audiences of over 23,500 recorded over the eleven day festival, up by 6.8% on the previous year.
This year’s festival also saw a step-change in industry attendance with a substantial increase in delegate accreditation, including 120 film-makers and over 200 other industry attendees.
An expanded industry offering included a popular series of daily workshops on all aspects of film-making, fund-raising, marketing and the creative process.
The inaugural BFI Flare Mentorship programme in association with Creative Skillset was launched with five film-makers. A unique partnership between BFI Flare and the British Council made five short films available to audiences across the world on BFI Player as part of the ground-breaking #FiveFilms4Freedom LGBT human rights initiative. The films were the most popular titles on BFI Player for the duration of the festival and were watched in 137 countries.
Highlights of the festival included director Justin Kelly’s arrival for the opening night film, I Am Michael; a standing ovation for the surprise appearance of Hollywood legend Tab Hunter for Jeffrey Schwarz’s film Tab Hunter Confidential; Flare programmer Emma Smart’s 20th anniversary celebration We Love Xena Warrior Princess; seven drag performers on stage for the world premiere of Colin Rothbart’s Dressed as a Girl; the 40th anniversary BFI IMAX screening of The Rocky Horrow Picture Show; a mini-roller derby in honour of In The Turn a documentary about an international queer collective of roller skating activists, Vagine Regime; and an appearance by five members of the original activist group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners whose stories form the basis of the film Pride.
Among the many film-makers in attendance were Stephen Belber (Match), Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behaviour), Mark Christopher (54: The Director’s Cut), Carol Morley (The Falling), Patrik-Ian Polk (Blackbird), Mikel Rueda (Hidden Away), Colette Bothof (Summer), Don Sickles (Mala Mala) and Ester Martin Bergsmark (Something Must Break).
Clare Stewart, director of Festivals and Cinemas, BFI, said: “BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival has captured the hearts of audiences as evidenced by so many packed houses and a truly great box office result. This year’s BFI Flare shone the spotlight on emerging LGBT talent with a new mentorship scheme and an online initiative with global reach. BFI Flare continues to grow in significance in the the UK and internationally for audiences and film industry alike. We have big ambitions for next year’s 30th anniversary edition of the festival.”