A Flare for cinema

A Flare for cinema

Nahuel Pérez Biscayart discovers the joy of protest in 120BPM, one of the highlights of this year's BFI Flare festival

Who doesn’t like sharing an intimate experience with strangers in a darkened room? So how about a night at the pictures? Anch Warlow reports…

March sees the arrival of this year’s BFI Flare, the world-renowned LGBTQ+ film festival (please don't ask me why it's called that).

This year the programmers seem to be making a conscious effort to find the proverbial something for everyone.

The opening gala features a movie with two genuine Hollywood stars up front. Ellen Page (Juno, X-Men) and Kate Mara (House of Cards, Fantastic Four) take the leads in My Days of Mercy, directed by Tali Shalom-Ezer. It’s an intense-sounding piece about a Romeo & Juliet-style romance between women from opposing sides of the debate over capital punishment.

The closing movie is Postcards from London – hard to describe without making it sound silly, so I’ll cop out and give the official thumbnail: “A beautifully shot homage to the spirit of Derek Jarman and a celebration of the homo-erotic in Baroque art.” That’s set in an imaginary, vaguely ‘70s-ish Soho. Which all sounds rather wonderful.

In between there’s the powerfully shot and acted 120BPM from France; the actions of 1990s Aids activist group Act Up-Paris form the background to a heart-breaking love story. Or Rupert Everett’s passion project The Happy Prince, the story of Oscar Wilde’s last years, which the An Ideal Husband star wrote, directed and stars in.

Also intriguing is the South African drama The Wound, where traditional life and attitudes to masculinity collide with the modern world.

Then there’s former BFI Flare programmer Jason Barker’s moving A Deal With the Universe, the story of his struggle as a trans man to conceive with his partner Tracey and their unusual, headline-making solution. Or the heart- and gut-wrenching documentary Love, Scott, from Canada, which follows the life of a man left paralysed by a vicious homophobic attack.

Looking for a reflection of current issues of debate? Look no further than the day-long series of free events titled Rise: Queer, Trans and Intersex People of Colour Representation and Visibility in Film; or Radfem/Trans: A Love Story, a clip show and talk examining how rifts in the feminist movement have been shown on screen.

That’s all barely scratching the surface: there are more than 50 feature movies and more than 90 shorts in there as well, from all continents (well, except Antarctica, pedantry fans) and all shades of LGBTQ+ experience.

And there’s more: the hugely popular Big Gay Film Quiz, several club nights and Second Chance Sunday: an entire day of reruns of festival highlights, plus four stand-out LGBTQ+ movies from the past year, all for just £8 a ticket.

Tickets went on sale to BFI members on Wednesday 28 February and everyone else gets their chance from Monday 5 March. Check out for full info and to book your seats.