The 33rd edition of the British Film Institute’s Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival is coming to BFI Southbank 21 – 31 March. It will be another concentrated flurry of queer cinema and special events, and tickets are already on sale. Jack Cline tells us about a few things to look out for.
This year’s opening film is Vita & Virginia, a biopic about the passionate relationship between aristocrat Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) and author Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki). Closing night is the European premiere of the gender-bending JT Leroy, starring Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern and based on the true story of literary fraud. In between, the centrepiece film will be the gay pornstar documentary Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life.
Other gay highlights include Mapplethorpe, a stunning biopic about the outrageously queer photographer starring Matt Smith; Matt Bomer in the sensitive, surprising drama Papi Chulo; the Queer Lion-winning José, a complex Grindr love story from Guatemala; the drop-dead gorgeous coming-of-age collage We the Animals; the visceral, sexy Brazilian odyssey Socrates; The Blond One from Argentina’s Marco Berger (Plan B); an American married man facing up to his secret desire in From Zero to I Love You; and Last Ferry, about a dream Fire Island getaway gone wrong.
There are also a growing number of non-binary highlights such as Tucked, about a friendship between drag queens who are 60 years apart in age; Man Made, about the beefy contestants at Trans FitCon; and No Box for Me, a documentary about activists helping parents understand their intersex children. And a range of enticing documentaries digs into everything from a gay-icon actor (Making Montgomery Clift) to the connection between an epic Jesus play and the queer population of rural Arkansas (The Gospel of Eureka, narrated by Justin Vivian Bond). You can even get all gussied up for a 25th anniversary screening of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Yes, the programme is worth a deep dive.
As usual, screenings of lusty short films will be worth watching on a big screen with an appreciative audience. And there are also special talks and debates, the annual Big Gay Film Quiz, and five colourful club nights held over both of the festival’s weekends. During these dates, BFI Southbank becomes the coolest queer venue in London, so don’t miss out.