It’s no secret that the pandemic has been a major blow to the movie industry with filming postponed, projects cancelled and actors out of work. For independent queer cinema, the impact will be much deeper, without the same platform or funding opportunities. Now, it’s particularly important to celebrate new LGBTQIA+ narratives and back emerging queer filmmakers.
BFI Flare’s latest edition, which took place from 17-28 March did just that — bringing 26 features and 38 free shorts from 23 countries to the laptop screen via streaming. Highlighting upcoming names and giving space to the LGBTQIA+ community while most of their cultural venues remain close, it was a joyful celebration of queer creativity.
Below, we round up some of favourite films from the festival to put on your radar.
Rebel Dykes takes us straight into the world of post-punk dyke culture in 1980s London. Expertly mixing first person testimonies, animation and unseen archive, this documentary by Harri Shanahan and Sian Williams tells the stories of artists, performers, musicians, sex workers and activists who lived the subculture and, together, found their chosen family.
Brazilian YouTuber Thiessa Woinbackk wows in an impressive acting debut that sees her star as a resilient trans teen standing up for her rights. Directed by Cássio Pereira dos Santos, the eponymous Valentina cares more about cute boys and clubbing than activism but, as a trans person in today’s Brazil, she faces significant barriers, both social and bureaucratic.
Shana Myara’s documentary focuses on fat and fierce babes in Canada who are using their creativity to clap back at a diet culture that seeks to shrink marginalised bodies. Here, fatness, queer identity and race intersect in unique ways that rarely get represented in film, underlined with gorgeous animation.
Colours of Tobi
Alexa Bacony’s documentary centres on a family grappling with teenage gender dysphoria against the backdrop of an increasingly conservative Hungary, where trans rights are currently being stripped back. It’s a steep learning curve for the family of Tobi, a young non-binary person, to re-evaluate the deeply ingrained gender norms in this rural corner of Central Europe but eventually love wins the day.
Boy Meets Boy
Daniel Sánchez López’s debut feature film, Boy Meets Boy is a classic tale of love and coming of age, seeing Harry and Johannes fall for one another after a chance encounter on the dance floor in Berlin. Rooted in realism and with a contemporary perspective, expect a fresh look at queer love, identity and power dynamics.