London is the setting for the UK’s longest running LGBTQ film event which began in 1986 as Gay’s Own Pictures. Since then it has also become the largest LGBTQ film event in the UK with this year’s edition boasting 56 feature films, an expanded industry programme, selected films on BFI Player VOD service, and a series of special events and archive screenings. With its partner fiveFilms4freedom it offers LGBT short films for free across the world and promoted through the British Council’s global networks.
Opening the festival this year is Talit Shalom-Ezer’s poignant lesbian love story MY DAYS OF MERCY written by Joe Barton, who scripted TV’s Troy, and featuring Kate Mara and Ellen Page. The European premiere of moral fable POSTCARDS FROM LONDON is the closing gala, telling a revealing story of a suburban teenager (Harris Dickinson) arriving in the West End where he falls in with a gang of high class male escorts ‘The Raconteurs’. Set in a vibrant, neon-lit, imaginary vision of Soho, the film works as a beautifully shot homage to the spirit of Derek Jarman and a celebration of the homo-erotic in Baroque art, and is Steve McLean’s long-awaited follow-up to his 1994 Sundance and Indie Spirit-nominated drama POSTCARDS FROM AMERICA. This year ‘Second Chance Sunday offers the opportunity to watch the on-demand repeat screenings of the audience festival favourites.
Other films to look out for are Rupert Everett’s Oscar Wilde-themed passion project THE HAPPY PRINCE in which he also stars alongside Colin Firth and Emily Watson. Robin Campillo’s rousing celebration of AIDS activism 120 BPM. MAURICE, a sumptuous restoration of the 1987 adaptation of E M Forster’s gay novel starring James Wilby and Rupert Graves. THE WOUND, an illuminating South African story of initiation in a rural village.
On the documentary front it’r worth seeing TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS that explores how a transgender Alzheimer’s patient deals with the harrowing inevitable, and ANTONIO LOPEZ 1970 a compelling and vibrant portrait of the bisexual illustrator who changed the fashion world.
Avant-garde Berlinale Teddy feature HARD PAINT presents a startlingly cinematic look at how a college drop-out deals with his needs, and Locarno favourite, a saucy Sao Paolo-set vampire drama GOOD MANNERS approaches its love story with hand-crafted tenderness and visual allure.
There will also be another chance to see Francis Lea’s Berlinale awarded GOD’S OWN COUNTRY; Billie Jean King’s thrilling account of her fight for equality in women’s tennis BATTLE OF THE SEXES and the one of the best films of 2017 CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.
BFI FLARE FILM FESTIVAL | LONDON 21 March – 1 April www.bfi.org.uk/Flare