02nd Apr2017

The Best of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival 2017 (Film)

by timbaros

The best films of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival 2017 was always going to be hard to choose. There were so many wonderfully well-done, and in some cases, amazing films that were shown at the film festival – one of the biggest, and best, in the world. There were over 50 features and more than 100 shorts shown, as well as a wide range of special events, guest appearances, discussions, workshops, club nights and more. And while it was virtually impossible to watch all of the features and shorts, I did manage to catch most of them. So herewith is my non-exhaustive list of the best of Flare:

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1:54 is an explosive film that stars the excellent Antoine-Olivier Pilon (Mommy) which goes from a simple gay love story to an unexpected and shocking direction. It touches on all the relevant themes (bullying, young love, etc.) and first time director Yan England excellently pulls it all together. A must see!

Pushing Dead, directed and written by Tom E Brown, is a lighthearted comedy about a HIV+ man (a very good James Roday) and his trials and tribulations in getting his medication, finding love, and dealing with his boss and female roommate in San Francisco. It’s bittersweet, funny and lighthearted and will tug at your heart.

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Dear Dad is an excellent Indian film about a middle-aged father who comes out to his son while driving him to boarding school. It’s heartwarming and funny, with great performances all around.

Eight long-term HIV+ survivors discuss their fears, challenges and milestones in the relevant and timely documentary Last Men Standing. With the HIV+ population getting older, these men celebrate life as they remember the past.

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The Trans List is an important documentary where several prominent trans and nonbinary people get to tell their story. Well known celebrities Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and Buck Angel are featured, but it’s the less well-known who make more of an impact; lawyer and activist Kylar Broadus, teenage student Nicole Maines who won a landmark lawsuit in America after she faced discrimination for wanting to use the girl’s bathroom, and Bamby Salcedo, founder of the Los Angeles-based TransLain Coalition and who faced lots of issues growing up. There are a total of 11 interviews in this documentary, but I could’ve watched a dozen more. It’s an important and relevant documentary.

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, another important documentary, is about four Lesbians who were tried and convicted of sexually abusing children in the 1990’s. Fast forward and the women are finally exonerated for their alleged crime, and this documentary shows – through interviews and news footage – the women’s journey of their nightmare. Gripping, and bittersweet.

Chilean film Jesús starts out as a buddy movie where the two young leads hang out with their friends and then have sex with each other, but their lives are changed, and the film takes a surprising turn, when they are involved in a crime. This event will tear their lives apart and the ending packs a wallop!

Lauren (Velinda Godfrey) has to deal with the death of her girlfriend in the film Heartland. She also gets kicked out of the house they shared, so she has to move in with her bigoted mother, while her brother and his long-term girlfriend are visiting in order to set up a local wine business. But Lauren and the girlfriend develop more than a friendship in an event that tears the whole family apart, and brings up bad memories.

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Blow Job 2017 is a reimagining of the Andy Warhol classic, directed by Charles Lum and Todd Verow, that, for it’s four full minutes, focuses on David J. White, getting, as you guessed, a blow job. Why remake the 1963 classic? Because it was time to do so, and Lum and Verow do it in an excellent, grainy style.

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A film with commercial potential is Handsome Devil. Out gay student Ned (a wonderful Fionn O’Shea) is faced with another year in boarding school. His new roommate, lucky for him, is the star rugby player. But most memorable is Andrew Scott who plays a gay and sympathetic teacher. Scott is brilliant (and extremely handsome) as always.

A film that will astound you is the documentary Out of Iraq. It’s amazing that this film was even made as it’s the true story of two Iraqi soldiers who fall in love, but of course, living in a country where gay men are killed is not the ideal place for a gay relationship. So one of them is lucky enough to move to the U.S. and it’s a four year wait for them to be back together. Their long-awaited reunion, and eventual wedding, will leave you in tears.

This was just a few of the highlights of the BFI Flare film festival.
The entire program can still be found in the link below and hopefully some of these films will find their way to the cinema, or to the BFI website, or anywhere online. Let’s support and celebrate gay cinema.

http://www.bfi.org.uk/flare

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18th Mar2017

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival (Film)

by timbaros

image007Spring is in the air (almost) and with this comes gay films – and the BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival.

Taking place from March 16th – 27th at the NFT on the South Bank in London, this year Flare, for it’s 31st year, will deliver over 50 features, more than 100 shorts, and a wide range of special events including workshops, club nights and much much more in what is one of the world’s largest LGBT Film Festivals. Here’s a taste of what is showing:

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Against the Law – the world premiere (and opening night gala) of this British film which commemorates 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. The film deals with a Daily Express journalist, Peter Wildeblood, who has an affair with a serviceman that becomes disastrous for both of them in light of the law. Starring Mark Gattis (Boys in the Band) and Daniel Mays.

 

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Signature Movie – a widowed Pakistani woman living in Chicago falls in love with a Mexican woman but it’s not acceptable behavior in her culture. Even more so in that her mother constantly nags her about about finding another man to marry.

Torrey Pines – a psychedelic stop-motion animation film about a child grappling with gender identity and a schizophrenic mother. The film will be accompanied by a live score from director Clyde Petersen’s Queercore band.

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After Louie – Alan Cumming is a troubled New York-based artist, a survivor of the AIDS epidemic, who meets a young man who turns his life around.

Different for Girls – A woman has to explain to her female partner how she became pregnant while they were on a break. Expect lots of tension and drama!

Flare continues to categorise the films in different sections: Hearts (love, romance and friendship), Bodies (sex, identity and transformation) and Minds (reflections on art, politics and community). Here’s a small sample of some of these films:
Handsome Devil, starring Andrew Scott, is about the unlikely friendship between a lonely gay teen and his hunky rugby-playing roommate; Heartland follows a young woman who has to move back home to Oklahoma following the death of her girlfriend; Being 17 is the touching story of two gay teenage boys in their last year in high school; Body Electric follows a young man and his casual encounters in Brazil; The Trans List, a documentary of where prominent transpeople, including Caitlin Jenner and Laverne Cox, tell their stories; Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things, a documentary about LGBT life in Canada’s remote Artic Intuit polulation; as well as Last Man Standing, the life of eight long-term AIDS survivors.

There’s also a chance to catch two recent gay-themed films in case you missed them. Academy Award winner Moonlight, which is the first gay-themed film to win Best Picture, and French Canadian wunderkind director Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World will both be shown at the festival.

We highly recommend a visit to the festival at least on one of the days, but if you have the stamina, and the money, there is something for everyone every single day of the festival. To learn more about what’s going on, and to buy tickets, please visit:

www.bfi.org.uk/flare

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16th Mar2016

BFI FLARE: LONDON LGBT FILM FESTIVAL 2016 (Film)

by timbaros

pass-02Flare turns 30 this year. And what is Flare you might ask? It is London’s LGBT Film Festival. It starts on Wednesday March 16 and continues up until Sunday March 27. That’s ten jam-packed days of films, seminars, parties, and just plain lots of fun!

Flare is one of the world’s longest running and largest LGBT Film Festival. There will be over 50 features and more than 100 shorts (by filmmakers from all over the world such as Israel to Spain to Australia), and a wide range of special events, guest appearances, discussions, workshops and club nights. It’s divided into three themed sections: Hears, Minds and Bodies.

The opening night gala is the world premiere of ‘The Pass.’ A debut by director Ben A Williams, ‘The Pass’ stars Russell Tovey as a closeted football player who’s secretly in love with a fellow player. It’s sure to continue the conversation going about if there are any gay football players in the sport nowadays.

The closing night gala is ‘Summertime,’ an acclaimed French romantic drama between two feminists in Paris in 1971.

Other movie highlights include:
‘Bare’ – A small town girl meets a rough and charming female pimp who challenges her to take charge of her own destiny. It stars Dianna Agron (Glee).
‘Coming Out’ – A young man’s video diary of his process of coming out to his friends and family.
‘Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures’ – documents the legendary photographers graphic work.
‘Naz & Maalik’ – a heartwarming story of about the love and romance between two gay teen muslim teens in Brooklyn.
‘Closet Monster’ – A coming-of-age drama about a young boy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. It features the voice of Isabella Rossellini as a talking hamster!
‘Carmen Tropical’ – a trans woman is drawn back to her past after the murder of her friend in this Mexican thriller.
‘Inside the Chinese Closet’ – a documentary that explores how being gay in China’s homophobic society.
‘From Afar’ – A story between a middle-aged man and a 17-year old rent boy.
‘The Chambermaid Lynn’ – A former psychiatric patients becomes obsessed with guests at a hotel where she works.
‘Holding the Man’ – A 15-year old students falls in love with an older rugby player and face challenges that might tear them apart. Major stars Guy Pearce, Anthonly LaPaglia, and Geoffrey Rush feature in the movie.
‘Rebel Dykes’ – A 2016 documentary the pieces together the history of lesbian London in the 1980’s.
‘Nasty Baby’ – A young woman enlists her gay best friend to have a baby with. Starring Kristen Wiig.
There are also 12 programs of short films including ‘What Others Think’ which explores how others perceive the LGBT community.

Film festival-goes will also have a chance to watch previously released LGBT films including Xavier Dolan’s first film ‘I Killed My Mother,’ ‘Grandma’ with Lily Tomlin, the recent award-winning ‘Carol,’ and the highly-acclaimed film about two Los Angeles transgender prostitutes in ‘Tangerine.’

The festival will also shine a spotlight on transgender issues with ‘Transform,’ a series of events on trans acting on screen. Attending will be Silas Howard, a trans director on the award-winning hit show ‘Transparent.’ There will also be a live event called ‘XO LGBTQ Pitch’ where LGBT creative media professionals live pitch ideas for new interactive and games projects with LGBTQ content to commissioners. In addition, industry delegates will have access to a range of special talks and events. The BFI Flare LGBT Filmmakers’ Mentorship Programme, delivered by BAFTA with funding from Creative Skillset helps talented LGBT identified filmmakers build professional skills and networks. LGBT film gets an International spotlight with the return of fiveFilm4freedom. This ground-breaking project developed in association with the British Council sees five LGBT short films from BFI Flare available online for free throughout the Festival. And on the festival’s last day, Easter Sunday, all film are just £8.

To buy tickets, and learn more about the festival, please click here:
http://www.bfi.org.uk/flare

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31st Mar2015

BFI Flare LGBT Film Festival wrap up (Film)

by timbaros

The BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival has unfortunately come to a close after a highly successful nine days of films and events. It was perhaps the best festival in a long time. Here are some of the highlights:

– Dior and I: An exquisite (and nail biting) documentary of Raf Simon’s first eight weeks as artistic director of Christian Dior, in which time he has to put together a collection. Director Frederic Tcheng uniquely blends voiceovers of an actor speaking excepts from Dior’s memoir intertwined with the pressure Simons and his staff are under. Dior and I is one of the better fashion documentaries ever made. It is now in wide release.

– Portrait of a Serial Monogamist: Canadian Directors Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell’s tale of 40-something year old Lesbian Elsie (a perfectly cast Diane Flacks) who breaks up with her girlfriend but is not so sure that she’s done the right thing, especially after meeting another woman right away who appears to be ‘the perfect one.’ Portrait is funny and clever and will leave you laughing out loud of it’s portrayal of Lesbian relationships amongst friends.

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– Drunktown’s Finest: 34-year old Native American Director Sydney Freeland’s well done portrait of three Navajo Indian characters all coming of age and exploring not only their identities but also their relationships with their families and their culture. An amazing job by Freeland, who also wrote the script.

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– 54: The Director’s Cut: A highlight of the festival – this is the film that gay director Mark Christopher shot and intended to release in 1998 but was not able to due to pressure from the studio to ‘degay’ it. Literal cutting room floor and lost footage has been incorporated into the original version of this story of a young man (Ryan Phillippe) being accepted into the historic NYC club’s inner circle, and includes the gay scenes originally taken out. This film still takes us back to a time when it was all about the music and the dancing.

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– Tiger Orange: A sweet tale of two gay brothers, one – Chet (Mark Strano) who looks after the family hardware store in a small town in California while younger brother rebel Todd (porn star Johnny Hazard – real name Frank Valenti) comes back home because nothing’s happening for him in Los Angeles. Chet and Todd are opposites in every way – Chet is very subdued and simple and plain looking, while Todd is hot and sexy with a body to die for and a naughty personality to match. Valenti is the true star of this film – not only does he light up the screen when he’s one, but he can act as well.

– Match: Sir Patrick Stewart is an older dance teacher (Toby Powell) whose life is shaken up when a straight couple show up one day on his doorstep to supposedly interview him about his life as a dance teacher. But what they really want from his is to find out if he’s the father of the husband. Stewart has never been better in a film that’s stretched a bit too long and with a cast that can’t quite match Stewart in the acting department.

– The Last One: Unfolding the AIDS Memorial Quilt: A film, half about the AIDS quilt and the other half about statistics and other AID’s organizations, it would’ve worked better if it stuck to it’s main subject – the quilt. We’ve seen so many documentaries about AIDS and statistics, as well as the quilt, and this documentary gives us nothing new.

– The Golden Age of the American Male: This film is just a series of images and videos from the archives of the Athletic Model’s Guild, which was created by Bob Mizer. The Golden Age is pretty much 65 minutes of soft porn, if that’s your thing.

– Frangipani: The first LGBT Sri Lankan film, it tells the tale of two men (very good Dasun Pathirana and Jehan Sri Kanth) who fall in love with each other in spite of one of them getting married to a woman. Beautifully shot and easy to identify with – Director, Writer and Producer Visakesa Chandrasekaram) has made a lush film that is highly recommended.

– Everlasting Love: A strange, eerie Spanish film that can be best described as Stranger on a Lake (without the Lake) meets Twilight. Throw in some flesh eating and many boring moments and what you have is a film that should be missed.

– Fulboy: A documentary about the unseen world of football, Director Martin Farina was given full access to a professional Argentinean football team. He speaks to them in their hotel rooms and in their locker room, when, lucky for us, they are not shy about displaying their athletic bodies, from head to toe, for the camera. Not much a narrative on this one, but it’s worth watching as you feel like a fly on the wall in a very straight male environment.

There was an excellent selection of shorts, and a few stand out:
– Hole: Gay disabled actor Ken Harrower plays a man who frequents video booths but gets frustrated when he’s unable to receive sexual pleasure, so he enlists the help of his male carer to get it.
– Limanakia: The strangest yet sexiest short film I have ever seen. Gay men frolic on the rocks of a beach somewhere in Greece, all naked and all having sex, shot in motion-moving imagery with the sun providing a hint of gold on the bodies and on the rocks.
– been too long at the FAIR: Who would’ve guessed that there is a gay cinema in Queen, New York? This short documentary exposes the FAIR Theater in Jackson Heights as one of the oldest continuing running gay establishments in New York City.

All in all, it was a great festival and we’re looking forward to next year. Well done FLARE gang!

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