The BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival is the largest film festival of its kind in Europe and attracts more than 25,000 visitors.
The Festival, which is supported by the Pureland Foundation, was launched in 1986 as a season of gay and lesbian films at the National Film Theatre. It was then called Gay’s Own Pictures and curated by Peter Packer of the Tyneside Cinema. The event was renamed the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1988.
More recently, the name has been updated to BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, with the Q+ reflecting shifts in cultural conversations around identity and the Festival’s own ethos as welcoming and inclusive.
Organised and run by the British Film Institute, all screenings take place in spring at the BFI Southbank. Every summer, a selection of feature films and short films shown at the Festival goes on tour around the UK.
The programme is deliberately diverse and eclectic. Launching the 2018 Festival, Tricia Tuttle, Artistic Director, BFI Festivals, said: “Queer cinema has never offered more richly complex and diverse characters and stories than we have seen in the past few years and that shines through in the quality of Festival that the programme team have put together.”
The 32nd Festival’s programme includes more than 50 features, 90-plus shorts and a wide range of special events, guest appearances, discussions, workshops and club nights.
Alongside this, the Festival runs an industry programme offering panels, workshops and masterclasses exploring issues in LGBTQ+ film production, distribution and exhibition from development and crowdfunding to casting and exhibiting internationally. It includes in-conversation discussions with individuals who have made a major contribution to LGBTQ+ representation in the mainstream, and examinations of UK and US television landscapes.
UK-based emerging film makers who identify as LGBTQ+ can apply for BFI NETWORK @Flare Mentorships in partnership with BAFTA. The programme offers strong professional networks and better understanding of the market.
Now in their fourth year, such mentorships have connected film makers to the heart of the industry – with 2017 mentors including Sundance Grand Prize winner Desiree Akhavan, Russell T Davies and Tom Harper.
A special one-day series of talks and workshops, Representation and Visibility in Film, provides a platform to examine the importance of inclusion and the stories of queer people of colour, both on and off the screen.