BFI Flare 2024: Everything To Expect From This LGBTQ+ Film Festival
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BFI Flare 2024: Everything To Expect From This LGBTQ+ Film Festival

The 38th BFI Flare is coming later this month

One of the largest and longest-standing queer film events in the cultural calendar, BFI Flare is returning to London’s Southbank later this month. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of the 11 day festival.

BFI Flare 2024: Everything You Need To Know

When Is BFI Flare 2024?

BFI Flare 2024 will take place from 13–24 March 2023 at the BFI Southbank. Select titles will also be available UK-wide on BFI Player, and internationally via Five Films for Freedom. Now in its 38th edition, there will be a range of screenings – with films from 41 countries, including 33 world premieres, 57 feature films and 81 short films – alongside special events, DJ nights and art installations as part of the BFI Flare Expanded programme. 

‘This year’s BFI FLARE offers something new and refreshing to audiences – film gems aimed to inspire and celebrate the sheer diversity of queer communities around the world,’ said BFI Flare programmers. ‘We’ve got a packed programme of screenings, talks and events. Whether you want to make badges, forge friendships or have a boogie, there’s something for all in this Festival.’

Screenings

For 2024, the BFI Flare programme is split into three thematic strands: 

  • Hearts: Films about love, romance and friendship
  • Bodies: Stories of sex, identity and transformation
  • Minds: Reflections on art, politics and community.

The festival will open with the European premier of Amrou Al-Kadhi’s debut, Layla, which follows the relationship between Palestinian-British drag performer Layla and their white, straightlaced new love interest, Max. ‘It’s such a profound honour and joy to be opening BFI Flare this year,’ said Al-Kadhi. ‘BFI Flare has been utterly instrumental to my career. The fantastic BFI Flare x BAFTA mentorship programme was where I met Savannah James-Bayly, my now forever producer and best friend, with whom I went on to make four shorts, almost all of which screened at the festival. So, we are deeply proud to be bringing our first feature, Layla, home to BFI Flare. Layla is a film dedicated to the creative resilience of the queer community, and a love-letter to queer joy — to be opening the festival where I first felt the impact of joyful representation on screen, found my people and laid the foundations of my career, is a cosmic gift, and I simply cannot wait to celebrate Layla with my community.’

Closing the festival is Lady Like, a ‘rags to riches’ origin story documenting the rise of London-born, San Francisco-based drag queen Lady Camden (Rex Wheeler) as she enters RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14. ‘I cannot think of a better place to premiere Lady Like than BFI Flare! This story builds to Lady Camden‘s long-awaited return home to London to perform for the first time at the very nightclub that he ever went to as a young gay boy – Heaven,’ said producer and director Luke Willis. ‘It will be such a blast to share this inspiring story that starts in Camden, finds itself in San Francisco, traverses the globe, and ends in London with BFI Flare audiences.’

Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott in All Of Us Strangers

All of Us Strangers © Searchlight Pictures/20th Century Studios

Four of the best queer films from the last 12 months will be screened during the festival, including the BAFTA-nominated All Of Us Strangers, Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s 20,000 Species Of Bees and the critically acclaimed Bottoms.

Special Presentations this year include the European premiere of Dominic Savage and Elliot Page’s Close To You, which documents tensions at a family gathering when Sam (Page) returns home for the first time since transitioning, as well as Levan Akin’s Crossing, a drama surrounding the disappearance of a trans woman in Istanbul.

Among many other screenings, visitors can see the world premieres of:

  • We Forgot To Break Up: This romantic drama by Karen Knox features a trans musician caught in a love triangle with his bandmates.
  • What A Feeling: Explorations of migration, class and sexuality reach a climax as two women hit it off in a lesbian bar in Austria.
  • What’s Safe, What’s Gross, What’s Selfish and What’s Stupid: In this DIY debut from Jasmine Johnson, we get a glimpse of several slices of the London queer community as they talk about what it means to create a family.
  • Join The Club: A documentary exploring how the AIDs crisis in San Francisco led to marijuana legalisation in America, from Kip Andersen and Chris O’Connell.
  • LesviaTzeli Hadjidimitriou’s intimate documentary covering hidden stories from Lesbos, the birthplace of Sappho and a meeting place for lesbians since the 1970s.
  • Unspoken: A journey of self-discover after a closeted Orthodox Jewish teen discovers hid grandfather might have love another man.
Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding (c) A24

Following its world premiere at Sundance, Rose Glass’ Love Lies Bleeding will also be screening at BFI Flare. A gory follow-up to Saint Mauds, it features Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brian as a lesbian couple drawn into a web of violence in New Mexico in the 1980s.

This year’s festival will also mark 10 years of #FiveFilmsForFreedom in partnership with the British Council, which presents five films for free to audiences globally and invites audiences to show their solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community.

Events

There will also be a wide range of events, talks and debates, including:

  • Litanies For Survival: Three Films By Michelle Parkerson + Q&A: An event that explores the work of pioneering lesbian African-American filmmaker Michelle Parkerson, with three short films and a Q&A with the Perkerson.
  • The Maker: Returning to BFI Flare once again, The Makers will welcome visiting filmmakers directors Amrou Al-Kadhi (Layla) and Jeffrey Schwarz (Commitment To Life) to discuss their career journeys and artistic approach.
  • Scene Of Intimacy: A discussion about the creation of queer intimacy on screen with intimacy co-ordinator Tommy Ross-Williams.
  • Mr. Teds’ Big Fabulous Interactive Quiz: An interactive quiz hosted by notorious bearded drag queen Mr. Teds.
  • Faith (In The Power Of Love): Speakers from different religious communities examine the representations of their religions in LGBTQIA+ films.
  • Oska Bright Presents Queer Freedom: Hosted by the world’s leading festival for films made by or featuring people with learning disabilities or autism, this event will run a selection of shorts.
  • An Audience With Linda Riley: Director Jacquie Lawrence puts a spotlight on Linda Riley, a leading LGBTQIA+ activist, the publisher of DIVA Magazine and Founder of Lesbian Visibility Week, through conversation and a BTS look at her new film The Life of Riley.
  • Can We Be Friends?: One for those seeking new friends, this community event celebrates queer friendship and platonic intimacy. Expect drop-in style creative activities and relaxed facilitated discussions where you can meet new people in a safe space.

BFI Flare’s Badge Café will also be returning for 2024, along with DJ Nights at BFI Southbank BFI Bar featuring Fèmmme Fraîche, Club Kali, DJ Mike Menace – with Tamer Wilde guiding the opening night party while the dynamic Unskinny Bop duo and Queer Kitty playing out the closing night party.

VISIT

Tickets for BFI Flare 2024 go on sale on 20 February (BFI members) and 22 February (general sale). The festival kicks off on 13 March, closing on 23 March. Discover the best new LGBTQIA+ cinema at BFI Southbank and on BFI Player. Discover more and book your tickets at bfi.org.uk/flare