BFI Flare: London reveals its full programme.

The 38th edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, one of the world’s most significant and long-standing queer film events in the LGBTQIA+ calendar, today reveals its full programme.

BFI Flare will take place at BFI Southbank, which alongside packed screenings, will be buzzing with special events and DJ nights during the festival. A selection of titles will bege available to UK-wide audiences on BFI Player and to international audiences online via Five Films for Freedom – now celebrating its 10th year, in partnership with The British Council. BFI Flare is divided into three thematic programme strands: HEARTSBODIES and MINDS and this year presents 33 World Premieres (across features and shorts) with 57 features and 81 shorts from 41 countries. Tickets go on sale on 20th February for BFI Members and on general sale from 22 February via

As previously announced, BFI Flare opens with the European Premiere of LAYLA, Amrou Al-Kadhi’s stunning debut feature which recently had its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Deeply personal and engaging, starring Screen Star of Tomorrow Bilal Hasna in the titular role, LAYLA tells the story of a struggling Arab drag queen whose confident façade hides their desperate desire for love. The Festival’s closing night film is the World Premiere of docu-fiction LADY LIKE by director/producer Luke Willis. LADY LIKE follows the story of London-born, San Francisco-based drag queen Lady Camden, aka Rex Wheeler, as she is catapulted into the spotlight on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14. In this rags to riches origin story, Lady Camden struggles to manage the demands of her freshly minted international fame, while Rex is forced to come to terms with the troubling childhood he left behind in Camden which drove him to so desperately seek joy, fantasy and escape through the performing arts.

The BFI Flare 2024 Programming team are Grace Barber-Plentie, Jay Bernard, Diana Cipriano, Zorian Clayton, Rhianna Ilube, Darren Jones, Wema Mumma and Brian Robinson.

BFI FLARE Programmers said:

“This year’s BFI FLARE offers something new and refreshing to audiences – film gems aimed to inspire and celebrate the sheer diversity of queer communities around the world.  We’ve got a packed programme of screenings, talks and events. Whether you want to make badges, forge friendships or have a boogie, there’s something for all in this Festival.”

Further World Premieres being presented in the Festival include 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.

As previously announced, the European Premiere of the moving drama CLOSE TO YOU – based on a story by Dominic Savage and Elliot Page – screens as a Special Presentation, while BFI Flare also welcomes Page onstage at BFI Southbank on 15 March for a Screen Talk to discuss his remarkable career. Page also serves as Executive Producer on the electrifying drama BACKSPOT. Directed by D.W. Waterson, this punchy film is a blood, sweat and tears quest for athletic perfection with a phenomenal central performance from Reservation Dogs’ Devery Jacobs

Also included as a Special Presentation is Levan Akin’s impressive fourth feature CROSSING, a compelling drama which charts the unlikely alliance forged between two protagonists as they hit the road trying to trace a young trans woman who has vanished in Istanbul.

Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brian are mesmerising in Rose Glass’ LOVE LIES BLEEDING. With its World Premiere at Sundance, the gripping and gory follow-up to Saint Maud finds a lesbian couple drawn into a web of violence in 1980s small-town New Mexico.

This year’s programme also features a variety of coming-of-age high school and college grad stories across genres. In Benjamin Howard’s powerful coming-of-age drama RILEY, Dakota Riley is a star-player on a football team whose secret gay life threatens to destroy him. The delightful debut feature by Noah Schamus SUMMER SOLSTICE sees a pair of recent college grads head for the hills on holiday, only to discover that they’ve already drifted apart. In Clare Cooney’s tongue-in-cheek, queer remix of slasher films DEPARTING SENIORS, making it to graduation is the least of these high schooler’s problems when there’s a murderer in their midst. A defiant trio of New Zeland schoolgirls battle against their strict matron in Josephine Stewart Te-Whiu’s satirical comedy WE WERE DANGEROUS.

The BFI Flare programme includes a wide range of global perspectives including beautiful slow burn romance WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN, following an art student who experiences first love after joining a protest group in post-martial-law Taiwan by I-Hsuan Su. A landmark film for India is director Onir’s semi-autobiographical tale PINE CONE on how the search for love can change over time, unfolding over key dates for gay rights in the country. A mother’s misguided instincts lead to crime in TOLL, a remarkable and impressively shot family drama with a sharp satirical edge by Carolina Markowicz following its Toronto International Film Festival premiere. In YUN Su-ik’s HEAVY SNOW, teenagers Suan and Seol form a connection on the sandy beaches on Gangneung, South Korea – a place they continuously return to in order to find each other. In the vibrant Bollywood-infused film, THE QUEEN OF MY DREAMS, Fawzia Mirza deftly intertwines the intergenerational dreams of a mother and daughter who are both trying to find their place in the world.

The programme showcases a number of authentic trans narratives including ambitious odyssey WOMAN OF by Malgorzata Szumowska that tells the story of a closeted trans woman’s life in small-town Poland and against the tumultuous backdrop of a crumbling Soviet Bloc. A group of visionary hijra in Delhi form a modelling agency to bring the traditional third gender into the 21st century in Tathagata Ghosh’s INDIA’S 1st BEST TRANS MODEL AGENCY.  Direct from the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, Jules Rosskam’s DESIRE LINES ajourney through the archives addresses the long-standing phenomenon of trans men developing a gay identity after transition. Inventive documentary by Marek Kozakiewicz, WE ARE PERFECT follows an open audition for a rare trans masculine role that attracts 300 candidates, uncovering both raw talent and a revolutionary spirit.

Following the theme of drag prevalent in the programme is UNICORNS, Sally El Hosaini and James Krishna Floyd’s stunning romance rooted in two distinct communities.Starring Ben Hardy and Jason Patel, the film is loosely inspired by the real-life experiences of Asifa Lahore, Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen.

BFI Flare will present the World Premiere of Kip Andersen and Chris O’ Connell’s upbeat documentary, JOIN THE CLUB, exploring the little known story of how the AIDS crisis in San Francisco led to marijuana legislation in America. An act of active resistance, and a fight for LGBTQ+ rights led by Dennis Peron, a pot dealer who outsmarted the police to alleviate the physical and mental suffering of AIDS patients.

Festival favourite Jeffrey Schwarz’s (Boulevard! A Hollywood StoryTab Hunter ConfidentialI Am Divine) returns to BFI Flare with COMMITMENT TO LIFE, his moving star-studded documentary exploring how community action mobilized around AIDS in Los Angeles, featuring revealing insight from ordinary people and Hollywood celebrities alike who kickstarted initiatives, change lives and help make history. This screening is supported by the Interbank LGBT+ Forum members: Bank of America, BBVA, BNP Paribas, DTCC, Evercore, FactSet, IG, Lloyds Bank, State Street.

Sam Sahid’s sumptuously made documentary, HIDDEN MASTER: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE PLATT LYNES, celebrates the sensuous images of George Platt Lynes (1907-55), a renowned celebrity portraitist and fashion photographer who was also the creator of a secret archive of male nude photography. Shahid’s beautiful film is an eye-opening delight that reveals the talents of an exceptional gay artist.

Direct from the 2024 Berlinale, BALDIGA – UNLOCKED HEART is Markus Stein’s portrait of Germany’s enfant terrible of photography, Jürgen Baldiga, documenting his riotous life and tragic death through his diaries, archives and extensive interviews with those who knew him, illuminating the AIDS crisis in 1980s underground Berlin. An original punk artist from first to last, Baldiga began a visceral series, busting taboos around HIV, documenting his life and death after testing positive in 1984.

Expanding on the careers of these two 20th century originators in gay photography will be ‘Developing Muscles’, an illustrated lecture presented by BFI Flare programmer Zorian Clayton; this homoerotic history of photography will chart some of the queer inspirations and influences on Platt Lynes and Baldiga.

Greece is one of the most popular LGBTQIA+ holiday destinations in the world, with a long history of same-sex relationships dating back to the Greek poet Sappho. This year’s Festival sees a number of Greek titles explore the country’s sun-soaked landscapes, rich cultural history and LGBTQIA+ narrative connections, with an industry event also delving into the region.

ALIGNED, Apollo Bakopoulos’ beautiful and engaging drama, follows the story of two male dancers who forge an artistic and sexual bond while training with a dance company in Greece. The intoxicating power of physical discovery and a shared love of Greek culture are vividly revealed in this love story partly played out through music and movement.

BFI Flare presents the World Premiere of LESVIA, Tzeli Hadjidimitriou’s initimate documentary, a blissfully nostalgic yet impressively complex insight into the hidden stories of Lesbos, birthplace of Sappho and meeting place for lesbians since the 1970s. From the unique vantage point of being a lesbian from Lesbos herself, Hadjidimitriou expertly balances the perspectives of the women looking for a place to connect and relax alongside the wary locals they often encounter.

Ravishing to look at, Zacharias Mavroeidis’ seductive and smart gay comedy THE SUMMER WITH CARMEN is a memorable, sharply written dissection of filmmaking, friendship and sex. Demosthenes and Nikitas are trying to write a gay film script while on holiday on one of the Greek islands. Sex and relationships are key, but family and friends often get in the way. Also screening is Krysianna Papadakis’s lesbian short, BEARCAVE, where two lovers on the hills of rural Greece have their romance interrupted when one of them gets pregnant.

Triggered by the recent death of a Cameroonian activist, filmmaker Appolain Siewe journeys back to his home country to investigate the roots of homophobia within the local psyche in CODE OF FEAR. Siewe initiates uncomfortable conversations within his community regarding homosexuality and ostracised by his family, he finds himself confronted with the steep cost of African allyship.

10 years after its release, Jim Chuchu’s award-winning anthology STORIES OF OUR LIVES continues to be a landmark film in the realm of queer African cinema. A compilation of five shorts – snapshots of queer Kenyan culture, from the perspective of queer Kenyans – these cinematic stories feel as fresh as ever. STORIES OF OUR LIVES screens with THE ARCHIVE: QUEER NIGERIANS, Simisolaoluwa Akande’s award-winning short, a living audio-visual archive which chronicles the lives of five queer Nigerians, working to reconcile their diasporic lives with their indigenous cultures.

Stephen Soucy’s MERCHANT IVORY is a wonderfully entertaining and insightful film that honours two exceptional creators – Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, and the films they created, as told by their collaborators. In Sav Rodgers’ CHASING CHASING AMY, a film fanatic explores their enduring love for Kevin Smith’s 90s bisexual romcom, uncovering a little more than they bargained for.

The programme pays tribute to queer musical icons with two documentaries. LIL NAS X: LONG LIVE MONTERO follows Lil Nas X, behind his witty and occasionally controversial online presence, as he embarks on his first live tour in a world where being an openly gay Black rapper still feels like a rarity by Carlos López Estrada. By Stuart Pollit, DON’T EVER STOP is the amazing story of legendary DJ and record producer Tony de Vit, who changed many lives with his music as he kept the ’90s generation dancing through the worst years of the AIDS epidemic.

Replete with excellent archival footage and great music, Marc Saltarelli’s riveting documentary STUDIO ONE FOREVER journeys back in time and spans the disco era to the AIDS crisis, offering insights into dance and celebrity culture in the 70s as Studio One blazes a trail as the first and largest gay disco in the USA. Music plays an important role in a number of narrative features. Chloé Robichaud’s DAYS OF HAPPINESS is a carefully wrought study of an unforgettable queer artist, a rising-star conductor in Montreal who navigates the intense power dynamics related to her role, with a musical score that will both delight and haunt for days after. In the urgent I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE by M.H. Murray, musician Benjamin races against time on an increasingly desperate odyssey across Toronto to procure funds for HIV prevention treatment following a sexual assault. REAS, an empowering documentary-musical hybrid by Lola Arias where a group of prison inmates re-enact their lives and sentences, balancing memories with fantasy.

This year’s programme features narratives that explore the experience of being a person of faith in the LGBTQIA+ community. Set near a rapidly eroding coastline in a small southern Thai town, SOLIDS BY THE SEASHORE follows Shati, a local Muslim woman, who grabbles with her feelings for Fon, a visiting artist, after they meet by chance and quickly develop a friendship in Patiparn Boontarig’s striking debut feature. The World Premiere of Jeremy Borison’sintriguing and important drama UNSPOKEN focusseson a closeted Orthodox Jewish teen who discovers his grandfather might have loved another man, prompting a journey towards self-discovery. Sexual identity and family collide in Nadir Moknèche’s complex drama YOU PROMISED ME THE SEA, which explores the arranged marriage of Saïd and Hadjira, who are forced to confront the implications of Saïd’s secret sex life as his online cruising results in no shortage of takers. To compliment these films, this year’s events programme features a panel discussion about representations of religion in LGBTQIA+ films with speakers from different religious communities (read more in events).

BFI Flare will also screen four of the best queer films from the past 12 months including: Eight-year-old Lucía takes a trip with her mother in Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES, a sensitive portrait of three generations of women spending a summer together in the Basque Country, just as the youngest comes out as transgender. Andrew Haigh received a BAFTA nomination for directing ALL OF US STRANGERS, a dreamlike and intense meditation on life, loneliness and gay experience, beautifully conveyed by a stellar cast led by Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal. Emma Seligman’s hilarious second film 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. Colman Domingo is rightfully sweeping-up award nominations for his incredible performance in George C Wolfe’s RUSTIN as an African American Civil Rights activist who is finally given the recognition he deserves here, as we follow his pivotal contributions amidst the scrutiny of homophobia from his colleagues, including his role in the 1963 March on Washington.

This year’s BFI Shorts programme is split across over a dozen thematic selections and features with themes including Tender hearted: Shorts from UK & IrelandA Taste of Spain and Methods of Facing a Hostile World, further breakdown below.

As previously announced, this year’s Festival sees the 10th year of #FiveFilmsForFreedom in partnership with the British Council. This landmark initiative presents five films for free to audiences globally and invites everyone everywhere to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities in countries where freedom and equal rights are limited. The 2023 LGBTQIA+ digital campaign attracted over three and a half million views from around the worldwith a quarter of views coming from parts of the world where freedom and equal rights are limited.  The project allows audiences worldwide to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities and the 2023 selection spanned from Guyana, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Nigeria, South Korea, with each story celebrating love as a human right. Since its launch in 2015, Five Films for Freedom films have been viewed by 23 million people, in over 200 countries and principalities. The Five Films for Freedom shorts will be available to watch for free UK-wide on BFI Player, as well as a special BFI Flare event and screening celebrating 10 years of the groundbreaking initiative and this year’s selection.

BFI Flare x BAFTA in partnership with BFI NETWORK, the successful professional development programme, also returns this year for its 10th edition with a new cohort of six filmmakers. Made possible thanks to National Lottery funding, it was established to showcase and support LGBTQIA+ UK filmmakers with a programme that aims to explore the realities of producing LGBTQIA+ work in the UK today, and to develop and strengthen professional networks. Over the last nine years it has supported 53 LGBTQIA+ filmmakers, and includes an impressive list of alumni who have since built sustainable careers in the industry, including numerous BAFTA-wins and nominations.

For anyone working in a professional capacity in film production, distribution or exhibition, the BFI Flare Industry Day on Saturday 16 March, will focus on creating stronger opportunities for industry professionals to build and develop industry connections and be inspired through informative panel discussions and an industry networking event. Topics under discussion will include how different roles can provide support for production teams to ensure their sets are safe and supportive places for all, prioritising cast and crew wellbeing and creating a positive working culture as well as an in depth look at the representation of queer sex on screen and the practicalities of shooting intimate scenes.


BFI Flare is divided into three thematic strands: HEARTSBODIES and MINDS.  The full programme is detailed below.

HEARTS includes films about love, romance and friendship. The films screening in HEARTS are:

·       ISLA’S WAY – Meet Isla Roberts: great-grandmother, carriage driver, handywoman. The indomitable spirit of the cheeky octogenarian is the beating heart of this delightful and inspiring ode to the visibility of older women.

·       OUR SON – Billy Porter and Luke Evans star as a couple on the brink of divorce, fighting over custody of their eight-year-old son.

·       SINCE THE LAST TIME WE MET – Victor and David’s story takes us on a familiar journey of loving and losing. But 15 years later they get a second chance at love, the result is a fresh and entertaining drama of the heart.

·       SPLIT – In this sensual web series, a stuntwoman embarks on her first lesbian relationship when she falls for the actor she’s working with. With an incredible cast, including Alma Jodorowsky, Jehnny Beth, Ralph Amoussou and Pauline Chalamet, SPLIT is a bold and intelligent exploration of sex, relationships and intimacy.

·       DOPAMINE CRASH – A collection of short films about the messiness of break-ups. Coming off the love high is painful, although it may be for the best

·       DRAWN THIS WAY – The love and craft that goes into animation shines through in this collection of short films, which aim to engage, educate – and even titillate – audiences about queer lives.

·       QUEER/PLATONIC – An ode to joys and tribulations of queer friendships and platonic intimacies – their intensity, fluidity and subversiveness

·       TENDER HEARTED: SHORTS FROM THE UK & IRELAND – This selection of shorts seeks to remind us of the radical possibilities of opening up our hearts to life, love and healing.


BODIES includes stories of sex, identity and transformation. The films screening in BODIES are:

·       LIFE IS NOT A COMPETITION, BUT I’M WINNING – In this beautifully constructed, innovative documentary, a collective of queer athletes unearth deep histories of pioneering sportspeople who were excluded from the podium.

·       CONNECT/DISCONNECT – This selection of shorts looks at how the power of attraction can surprise and unsettle, whether it’s the first few seconds of an encounter or something longer.

·       COSMIC DREAMS: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – Techno-sexual deviants, pixelated dolphins and sensuous goddesses all reside in this fantastical queer multiverse of short film.

·       PLEASURE ME – Short films exploring queer sex and desire in varied forms. There is beauty and frustration, joy and heartbreak. The pleasure is endless – at least, for some.

·       SEX IS COMEDY: the revolution of intimacy co-ordinators – A fascinating insight into the role of the intimacy co-ordinator, told through behind-the-scenes access to new queer French TV show Split.

·       A TASTE OF SPAIN – From the bullring to the boxing ring, and the joys of youth to the vulnerability of old age, this selection of cinematic delights showcases short filmmakers from Spain.

·       SILVER HAZE – Reeling from the trauma of her difficult childhood, a 23-year-old burns survivor finds some healing through her first lesbian relationship.

·       SLOW –Dovydas and Elena form a strong connection, but the dynamic of their relationship changes when Dovydas reveals that he is asexual.

·       TOPS –It’s the hilarious trans 1990s breakfast TV show you didn’t know you wanted. Amy Pennington taps into the spirit of MTV and The Big Breakfast in this comic series that asks, ‘what top did you want to wear after top surgery?’


MINDS features reflections on art, politics and community. The films screening in MINDS are:

·       CALLS FROM MOSCOW – Four Cuban exiles find themselves in Moscow one day before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

·       METHODS FOR FACING A HOSTILE WORLD – These shorts show people using all the resources of their hearts, minds and bodies to defend what they love.

·       ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY – Nearly a century after Orlando was published, Paul B. Preciado unpacks the meaning and importance for trans people of Virginia Woolf’s classic novel.

·       SAY WHAT YOU MEAN – It is really hard to speak your truth to a loved one, or to strangers. Yet all the people in these short films do, in their own time and way.

·       STATE OF THE ART – Gender-fluid, transgender and non-binary artists draw on dance, filmmaking and literature in these short tales of cathartic communication and exigent expression, contemplating art as a force to be reckoned with.



BFI Flare will also include a wide range of events, talks and debates, which include:


A journey through the work of pioneering lesbian African-American filmmaker Michelle Parkerson with three short films, STORME: THE LADY OF THE JEWEL BOXODDS AND ENDS and FIERCENESS SERVED! THE ENIKALLEY COFFEEHOUSE, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.


THE MAKERS returns this year as we welcome visiting filmmakers Amrou Al-Kadhi, director of our Opening Night Gala, LAYLA, and Jeffrey Schwarz, director of COMMITMENT TO LIFE, to discuss their career journeys, share anecdotes about the making of their latest film and reveal their artistic approaches.

SCENES OF INTIMACY – a discussion with intimacy co-ordinator Tommy Ross-Williams around the creation of queer intimacy on screen. In this workshop, Ross-Williams will share insights on their own work developing intimate queer content on screen and provide space to reflect on the representation of queer relationships and marginalised identities in our daily lives.This event links closely with two features in the programme, sensual French webseries SPLIT by Iris Brey; and SEX IS COMEDY: THE REVOLUTION OF INTIMACY COORDINATORS the fascinating documentary on SPLIT by Edith Chapinproviding an insight into the work of an intimacy coordinator, highlighting the power dynamics, politics and ethical considerations that come up on set.


The notorious bearded drag artist brings his anarchy-fuelled brand of quizzing to BFI Flare. With a background of performing across the world including Duckie, Underbelly and NYC Downlow, Mr. Teds brings the full force of his creativity to curate an interactive quiz night like no other, testing GBTQIA+ film knowledge, lip-syncing skills and life drawing abilities.


This illustrated discussion with speakers from different religious communities takes a look at representations of their religions in LGBTQIA+ films, including those that have made an impact on them. The panel will also discuss the intersection of faith and LGBTQIA+ identity: how easy is it for someone to be out in their faith community, and conversely, what is the experience of being out as a person of faith in the LGBTQIA+ community?


Oska Bright Film Festival is the world’s leading festival for films made by or featuring people with learning disabilities or autism, this event see’s Lead Programmer Matthew Hellett present a selection of LGBTQIA+ shorts. Their Queer Freedom programme shines a spotlight on the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community, which can often go unheard. Featuring stories of love, loss, and friendship.


At The Makers’ event at BFI Flare 2022, Gateways Grind director Jacquie Lawrence promised to turn the camera on Linda Riley, a leading LGBTQIA+ activist, the publisher of DIVA Magazine and Founder of Lesbian Visibility Week. This year we see Linda Riley in conversation with filmmaker Jacquie Lawrence in a behind-the-scenes look at her new film The Life of Riley ahead of the film’s release.


A community event celebrating queer friendship and platonic intimacy, in all its forms. For all those seeking new friends and connection, BFI Flare programmers Rhianna and Wema have created a dedicated space celebrating queer friendship, inspired by the shorts programme QUEER/PLATONIC. There will be drop-in style creative activities to meet new people, and relaxed facilitated discussions about the joys and complexities of building queer community.

Our popular BADGE CAFÉ will return this year, along with DJ NIGHTS at BFI Southbank BFI Bar(taking place on Friday 15, Saturday 16, Thursday 21 and Friday 22 March) featuring Fèmmme Fraîche, Club Kali, DJ Mike Menace and with Tamer Wilde guiding us during the opening night party while the dynamic Unskinny Bop duo and Queer Kitty play us out for our closing night party.