Festival Focus: BFI Flare Festival 2017 Preview

Posted March 3rd, 2017 by Annabelle Amato

A crucial event for LGBT communities, the BFI Flare Film Festival returns this year with a plethora of groundbreaking and captivating works from a diverse multitude of filmmakers from across the globe. The BFI’s annual showcase of LGBT cinema, Flare has encouraged fresh stories, different approaches and new filmmakers for over 30 years.

This year’s shorts programme, ‘Falling Free’ will consist of a riveting collection of queer stories, all of which come from UK based filmmakers. ‘Falling Free’ will screen on March 25th at 2:00PM at NFT1, and on March 26th at 6:10PM at the Studio.

Starting off the programme is Hope Dickson Leach’s, Silly Girl. Inspired by Ellie Kendrick’s short play of the same name, Leach was inspired to turn this production into a short film. Shot in July of 2016, Silly Girl follows a middle aged trans-man as he relives the troubles of his first romantic encounter. Previous works from filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach has been selected to screen at Sundance, Edinburgh, and London amongst many others. Her debut feature, The Levelling, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016.

Following comes SP filmmaker Rosie Westhoff’s short film Crush, which puts a spin on the classic coming of age tale about a young teenager’s first love. Rather than relying on thematic ideas, Westhoff’s short focuses on the emotional investment that protagonist, Ella, feels about her new romantic interest. This, in turn, allows the audience to enter her mind, and become 14 again for the duration of the short film.

Though Westhoff has spent most of her career working in film and television, Crush is her directorial debut.

Also featured in the programme is SP animator, Kate Jessop’s, Queer Heroes. A collaborative project combining the work of 14 animators, Jessop curates a short film that celebrates significant queer figures from historical and contemporary times, splitting animation duties between the 14 animators involved, each passing on to the next in the style of Surrealist drawing game ‘Exquisite Corpses.’

Londoner Jessop, is an award winning animation filmmaker, whose works have been recognised internationally. She has been included in the ‘Best of Birds Eye View,” and her works have awarded her the Femme Fantastique award at the London Short Film Festival. Jessop is one of the cofounders of Girls on Film.

Amongst the feature films at Flare is Campbell X’s Different for Girls, which screens as a 12-part web series. The British director worked with screenwriter and SP’r, Jacquie Lawrence, to bring her indie novel to life. Different for Girls is a dynamic lesbian drama set in West London. The beginning of the series focuses on Cam having to tell her girlfriend that she is pregnant, and continues by delving into the relationship issues of the couple’s friends and families. The series also features SP’rs, Victoria Broom and Tuyen Do.

Award winning filmmaker, Campbell X, previously wrote and directed the LGBT indie feature, Stud Life. X is also the mastermind behind production company BlackmanVision. Pushing boundaries for LGBT filmmakers in the UK, Campbell resides on the Rainbow List, created to recognise LGBT individuals in public life. Different for Girls will screen at 8:45PM on March 17th, at NFT1

After her previous short, Blood Below the Skin, premiered at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival, and won ‘Best of the Fest’ at the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Director Jennifer Reeder, returns to the screen with her new feature film, Signature Move.

This film focuses on the changing relationship between Muslim mother and daughter, Zaynab and Parveen. As if Zaynab’s life is not busy enough balancing her job as an immigration officer in Chicago, and living at with her newly widowed mother, she also struggles to keep her interest in women from Parveen. But when Zaynab falls for a new love interest, this secret becomes a lot harder to keep. Flare favourite Reeder undoubtedly nails the issue of struggling between following ones heart, and attempting to maintain a relationship with their family in her new fascinating feature.

This debut screenplay from co-writers Lisa Donato and Fawzia Mirza is a complex tale that explores the layers of Zaynab’s life through family, trust, and love. Surely an unmissable event, Signature Move will screen on March 26th at 6:15PM and 8:40PM, at NFT1.

Producer and SP’r, Jennifer Wood’s feature, Heartland, will also screen at this years BFI Flare Festival. After losing her girlfriend to cancer, protagonist Lauren is forced to move home to Oklahoma to live with her homophobic mother. As she grieves, Lauren begins a relationship with her brother’s girlfriend, which threatens her strained relationship with her family even further. A directorial debut from Maura Anderson, Heartland is sure to draw its audience to an emotional understanding of all its characters.

Heartland will screen on March 25th at 8:40PM at NFT2, and on March 26th at 11:15AM at Studio, and 4:00PM at NFT2.

Flare’s centrepiece screening, Torrey Pines, is a semi-autobiographical stop-motion animation feature from Clyde Petersen. Returning to Flare for the third time, Petersen presents this coming-of-age road trip, which features a live score from Queercore band, Your Heart Breaks.

Following the successes of his shorts, Gender Failure, in 2013 and My Prairie Home in 2014, Petersen’s first feature animation, Torrey Pines is a psychedelic journey of 12 year old, Clyde. As his mother battles paranoia and schizophrenia, Clyde discovers his emerging sexuality. The film demonstrates humour and sensitivity throughout its entirety, and is sure to land with any audience member. Petersen has been hand crafting Torrey Pines for three years. The complex emotions of the film are almost entirely expressed without dialogue, which Petersen believes, will help spread the message of the film throughout the world. Petersen is a Seattle based animator and filmmaker. He currently a member of the Transgender and Queer communities there.

Torrey Pines screens March 18th at 6:45PM, at NFT1

These films represent only a small portion of those that will be screened at this years BFI Flare Film Festival. Spanning over 10 days, from March 16th to 26th, the diverse spectrum of works is sure to engage audiences of all sorts. Come find what inspires you.

Comments are closed.