Record numbers attend 32nd edition of LGBT+ film festival

Besi Besemar April 4, 2018

BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival – the UK’s leading LGBT+ film event, last month celebrated their successful 32nd anniversary attracting an increase in industry and filmmaker delegate numbers.


High profile guests attending included Hugh Grant, Rupert Everett and Trudie Styler.

BFI Flare 2018 also saw a substantial increase in accreditation with 299 Industry delegates (an increase of 16% on 2017 attendance) from 17 countries outside the UK: Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Myanmar, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States. 798 guests attended BFI Flare industry events over the ten-day festival.

The Festival offered an exciting industry programme alongside talks with Robin Campillo (writer/director of 120 BPM and Eastern Boys), Elizabeth Karlsen (producer of CarolColetteThe Crying Game and Hollow Reed) and recent BAFTA Nominee Francis Lee (writer/director of God’s Own Country).

The Industry Programme also included events Anatomy of an Episode: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, with writer/executive producer Tom Rob Smith joining the BFI to dissect the show’s acclaimed fourth episode House by the Lake, and Casting a Wide Net, a panel on casting LGBT+ films and characters in partnership with Spotlight.

Michael Blyth, Senior BFI Flare programmer, said: Supporting and nurturing UK talent is so important to us at BFI Flare. We opened the Festival with the powerful My Days of Mercy, from British screenwriter Joe Barton, and closed with the sexy and stylish Postcards From London. We also hosted the World Premiere of UK filmmaker Jason Barker’s A Deal with The Universe as our Centrepiece Presentation. This commitment to supporting UK voices continued through our annual mentorship programme, now in its fourth year, in which we welcomed 6 emerging UK filmmaking voices into the Flare family.”

Highlights of BFI Flare in 2018 included the Opening Night UK Premiere of My Days of Mercy. Powered by stirring performances from Ellen Page (Juno, Inception, Freeheld) and Kate Mara (House of Cards, The Martian), Shalom-Ezer’s follow-up to Princess is a poignant love story between two women from vastly different backgrounds and opposing political views.

The Festival’s Closing Gala was the European Premiere of Steve McLean’s stylish and sexy Postcards from London. The film tells the story of beautiful teenager Jim (Harris Dickinson, BEACH RATS) who, having travelled from the suburbs, finds himself in Soho where he falls in with a gang of unusual high-class male escorts The Raconteurs. Set in a vibrant, neon-lit, imaginary vision of Soho, this morality tale manages to be both a beautifully shot homage to the spirit of Derek Jarman and a celebration of the homo-erotic in Baroque art.

For the fourth time BFI Flare and the British Council made five LGBT+ short films available to audiences across the world as part of the ground-breaking #FiveFilms4Freedom  LGBTQ+  digital campaign.

BFI Flare teamed up with UK government’s GREAT campaign and the British Council to celebrate #FiveFilms4Freedom with a spectacular projection on the Tower of London with filmmakers from four of the films in attendance. The collaboration was also marked with a high-profile reception at the Houses of Parliament with BFI Flare filmmakers and industry in attendance. To date the five films have been viewed over 2.5 million times across 12 days, in 146 countries.

The centrepiece screening of the festival was the World Premiere of UK feature documentary, A Deal with the Universe, the debut from former BFI Flare programmer Jason Barker, which tells the inspiring tale of a very different kind of pregnancy.

Special Presentation was Robin Campillo’s modern queer classic: 120 BPM a rousing, heart-breaking account of AIDS activist group ACT-UP: Paris.

Special Event was Rise: QTIPOC Representation and Visibility in Film – a special one-day series of talks and workshops, this examined the importance of inclusion and the stories of queer people of colour, both on and off the screen.

183 filmmaker guests represented 19 countries, covering global LGBT+ cultures including India, Lebanon, Argentina, Thailand, Ireland, UK, Brazil and Canada.

Among the many filmmakers in attendance were: BFI Fellow Hugh Grant who introduced Maurice on stage alongside co-star James Wilby, Rupert Everett (writer, director and star of The Happy Prince), Robin Campillo (120 BPM), Trudie Styler (Freak Show), Jason Barker (A Deal with the Universe), David Weissman (Conversations with Gay Elders), Tali Shalom-Ezer (My Days of Mercy), David Hoyle (Uncle David 2), Steve McLean & Harris Dickinson (Postcards from London), Liz Rohburgh (Becks) and James Crump (Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion and Disco)

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival was programmed by Jay Bernard, Michael Blyth, Zorian Clayton, Brian Robinson and Emma Smart, led by Artistic Director Tricia Tuttle.