London Film Festival might still be a good few months off but don’t worry, there’s something equally good and a hell of a lot more queer on the horizon. Namely, BFI Flare: the leading queer film festival in the UK, where LGBTQIA+ talent and stories are championed unequivocally. This year there are documentaries about drag kids, a queer love story set in 1970s Chile and the latest from queer auteur Xavier Dolan.
Matthias & Maxime
Let’s cut to the chase: it’s a Xavier Dolan film, it’s gonna be good. Admittedly one of the safer options on this year’s Flare programming, Matthias & Maxime is a crowd pleaser about friendship, navigating your thirties and a kiss that changes everything. You can expect to see typical Dolan flairs such as a codependent mother-son relationship, screaming arguments and subtle sensitivity to emotional dynamics.
This crowd-funded documentary by Elegance Bratton aims to shine a light on the 40 percent of homeless youth who are also LGBTQIA+. Inspired by his own experiences of homelessness after first coming out, it follows Black gay and trans teens who have been overlooked by society and outcast by the queer community. In times of pink washing, it’s an important reminder to keep fighting for queer rights and acceptance for all — not just the cis, white, middle class individuals for whom these privileges are more easily won.
Based off an obscure pulp novel by Mario Cruz, this Chilean feature tackles lust, love and murderous rage in the years immediately preceding Salvador Allende’s time as the only freely elected Marxist leader in history. Set in a prison in Santiago, the Sebastián Muñoz-directed film charts the blossoming relationship between Jaime and older inmate “The Stallion”.
La Leyenda Negra
This heartfelt coming of age film follows Salvadoran-born student Aleteia as she struggles to fit in in amongst the cliques at her Compton High School. In a textbook teen drama scenario, she sparks a friendship with popular girl Rosarito, which slowly becomes something more. Yet Aleteia blissfully normal adolescent life is interrupted by the termination of the Temporary Protected Status programme, also affecting 417,000 other migrants. A subtle send-down of Trump’s America.
If you’re queer, by now you probably know who Desmond Is Amazing is. If not, go on YouTube and find out. This documentary follows the stories of four young performers working in a similar vein to Desmond: all pursuing a passion for drag despite stigma, alienation and the ongoing controversy over whether the art form should be restricted to adults. Special shoutouts are reserved for their super supportive show parents.
No Hard Feelings
German-Iranian director Faraz Shariat brings us No Hard Feelings, a feature that impressed everyone at Berlinale so much that it scooped up the Teddy Award for best LGBTQIA+ film. Sharat’s autobiographical tale follows a club kid doing community service at a refugee shelter after getting caught shoplifting. It’s a story that explores privilege, roots and everyday racism with humour, panache and a seriously good soundtrack.