Wednesday 3 April 2024

BFI Flare 2024: The Stats

The 38th edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival closed on 24 March seeing a continued growth in audiences attending in person events at the Festival’s home, BFI Southbank. Overall BFI Flare saw 28,125 audience attendances across BFI Southbank screenings, events and on BFI Player. The festival had packed houses with 87% occupancy at BFI Southbank, up from 85% in 2023, with 54% of bookers new to BFI Flare. Over 12 days between 13–24 March, BFI Flare welcomed audiences to BFI Southbank with 58 features and 81 shorts screened from 41 countries. The festival hosted 5 World Premieres, 2 International Premieres, 6 European Premieres and 23 UK Premieres from across the features programme. Talent highlights included Elliot Page, the Merchant Ivory family, Linda Riley, Iris Brey, Michelle Parkerson and many others.
This year’s edition included the Opening Night European Premiere of LAYLA, Amrou Al-Kadhi's stunning debut feature, fresh off its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The World Premiere of LADY LIKE by director/producer Luke Willis, closed the festival. Both these films, as well as many others screening in the festival, demonstrated the theme of embarking on a journey towards living your true authentic self. Other highlights from this year’s film programme included the Special Presentation of CROSSING and the European Premiere of the moving drama CLOSE TO YOU, written and directed by BAFTA-winning Dominic Savage and starring, produced and co-written by Elliot Page. Simmering apprehensions surround a family get-together as Page’s Sam returns home for the first time since transitioning in this highly collaborative feature.

World Premieres presented in the Festival included WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP – a pitch perfect romantic drama by Karen Knox, featuring a trans musician caught in a love triangle with his bandmates as they rise to fame in this love letter to Toronto’s 2000s music scene. Two women hit it off in a lesbian bar in Kat Rohrer’s WHAT A FEELING – a romantic comedy with real heart that explores migration, class and sexuality in Austria. Several slices of the London queer community talk in depth about what it means to create a family in WHAT’S SAFE, WHAT’S GROSS, WHAT’S SELFISH AND WHAT’S STUPID, a heartfelt DIY debut by Jasmine Johnson. Jeremy Borison’s intriguing and important drama UNSPOKEN centres on a closeted Orthodox Jewish teen who discovers his grandfather might have loved another man, prompting a journey towards self-discovery.

BFI Flare screened the best queer films from the past 12 months in the BEST OF THE FEST section on the final day. These included 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES, a sensitive portrait of three generations of women spending a summer just as the youngest comes out as transgender; Andrew Haigh’s ALL OF US STRANGERS (pictured above), a dreamlike and intense meditation on life, loneliness and gay experience, beautifully conveyed by Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal; Emma Seligman’s BOTTOMS which sees Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri play the school’s ‘ugly lesbians’ who start a fight club to hook up with cheerleaders and lose their virginities before they go to college; and George C. Wolfe’s RUSTIN with Colman Domingo's acclaimed performance as an African American Civil Rights activist who is finally given the recognition he deserves here, including his role in the 1963 March on Washington. 

Source/images: BFI