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FESTIVALS UK

London’s BFI Flare festival kicks off

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- The 32nd edition of the London LGBTQ+ Film Festival is presenting over 50 features and more than 90 shorts between 21 March and 1 April

London’s BFI Flare festival kicks off
My Days of Mercy by Tali Shalom Ezer

The Opening Night Gala film of the 32nd BFI Flare London LGBTQ+ Film Festival (21 March-1 April) was the Tali Shalom Ezer-directed UK-US co-production My Days of Mercy [+see also:
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, about two women (Ellen Page and Kate Mara) from vastly different backgrounds and with diverse political views who fall in love. The Centrepiece Screening is the world premiere of the British documentary A Deal With the Universe [+see also:
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by former BFI Flare programmer Jason Barker. Made with home footage shot over a period of a decade, it details the attempts by male transgender Jason and his partner Tracey to conceive. The Closing Night Gala film is the European premiere of Postcards from London [+see also:
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, starring Harris Dickinson and Jonah Hauer-King. Director Steve McLean has shot a Soho-set film in the spirit of Derek Jarman, which is a celebration of the homo-erotic in Baroque art.

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The programmers have pinpointed several themes that have emerged at the festival this year. There are several films by and about queer D/deaf and disabled people. This includes the shorts programme “Fighters of Demons, Makers of Cakes”, curated by Sandra Alland, which examines LGBTQ+ disabled, chronically ill and/or D/deaf lives. There will be a screening of Robin Campillo’s extraordinary account of the ACT-UP Paris movement in BPM (Beats Per Minute) [+see also:
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interview: Arnaud Valois
interview: Robin Campillo
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 as part of a focus on HIV/AIDS, a topic that has been a central concern of queer filmmakers since the 1980s. Programmer Brian Robinson will deliver an illustrated talk on the “Cinema of AIDS”, featuring 30 years of the virus on screen, and the festival will be screening classic AIDS-related films. Another major thread of the festival is the exploration of LGBTQ+ families, and there will be a screening of Jessica Champeau’s Belgian documentary F.A.M.I.L.Y, which centres on the children of same-sex couples.

Other highlights of the programme include the Swiss football locker-room saga Mario [+see also:
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by Marcel Gisler; the world premiere of Scottish director Tristan Aitchison’s candid account of intersex and trans life in Kenya Sidney & Friends; the world premiere of Gary Reich’s dark and disturbing sequel Uncle David 2Linda Cullen and Vanessa Gildea’s emotional documentary The 34th, on the battle to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples in Ireland; Rubi Gat’s documentary Dear Fredy, which tells the story of the heroic gay Jewish sportsman Fredy Hirsch, who ended up in Auschwitz; and the first UK screening of The Happy Prince [+see also:
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, which sees Rupert Everett direct and star in the film about the final traumatic years of author Oscar Wilde.

Highlights from the wide range of events, talks and debates include Gary Garb delivering a lecture that pays tribute to gay directors of the golden age, the ever-popular Big Gay Film Quiz, and “Radfem/Trans: A Love Story”, in which programmer Jay Bernard will lead a clip show and talk on how rifts in the feminist movement have been represented on screen.

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