The 36th BFI Flare film festival. Twelve days of screenings, 52 feature films, and 78 free short films, from 42 countries. All films are available online on the BFI Player from the 16th-27th March. There will also be panel discussions and club nights, including The Batty Mama.
Our 2022 selection of Feature and Short films to see at the festival, includes films from Brazil, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Germany, Canada, Guinea, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, the UK, the USA and more. Tickets can be purchased on the BFI website.
HEARTS includes films about love, romance and friendship
Dubbed West Africa’s first film about homosexuality, this film details a tricky love affair between two high schoolers from different sides of the tracks.
“The scene opens with a bright red sports car and two boys furiously kissing on the front seat. Immediately there are complications. Although Manga faces pressure from his middle-class father to ditch working-class Sory, the relationship between the two boys is known to many. There is even playful reverence for them among the female students. Both attempt to lead new lives, with Sory courting an unusual new lover in a different town and Manga joining his father’s business. But youthful infatuation is difficult to forget. Defunded by the Guinean government and the target of protests during its production, Dakan is a heartfelt, lo-fi first in the canon of queer African cinema.”
Director-Screenwriter: Mohamed Camara
Featuring: Mohamed Camara, Cécile Bois, Mamady Mory Camara
Guinea-France 1997 | 87min
BODIES includes stories of sex, identity and transformation.
Heartfelt and fun, this documentary charts the life of BeBe Zahara Benet, the first winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“Marshall Ngwa began life as a kid from Cameroon – the only boy in his home economics class and a beloved member of a tight-knit family. Longing for sexual and artistic freedom, he emigrated to the US and won Drag Race as BeBe in 2009 – an encouraging sign for his worried parents. But being the first is not always easy. As the show’s popularity skyrocketed, later winners were rewarded with commensurate wealth, opportunities and exposure. Left behind, BeBe has had to find new ways to reinvent herself in the face of economic and social turmoil, and she does so with bucket loads of grit. Being BeBe is a fascinating portrait of a performance artist who is truly dedicated to the craft.”
Director: Emily Branham
Featuring: BeBe Zahara Benet (aka Marshall Kudi Ngwa)
USA-Cameroon 2021 | 93min
Boy Culture: The Series
Q. Allan Brocka’s comedy Boy Culture had its world premiere at our Festival in 2006. This six-part sequel finds popular escort X adapting to a very different world.
“Returning from the original Boy Culture, 40-ish escort, X (Derek Magyar) still needs to pay the rent and is catapulted into the world after his boyfriend Andrew (Darryl Stephens of Noah’s Arc) decides to leave him. Sassy young hustler Chayce takes the older man under his wing and helps him navigate a world he left 15 years ago. It’s a real treat to revisit these characters and see how they’ve changed, but the series also works as a standalone drama. From negotiating sex work and the internet, personal branding and an ever-expanding range of clients, there’s a lesson for X in every episode. In fact, there’s something we can all learn from this series, about sex and ageing, the value of relationships, the variety of human sexual experience and much, much more.”
Director: Q. Allan Brocka
Featuring: Derek Magyar, Darryl Stephens, Jason Caceres
USA 2021 | 86min (6 episodes)
I Am the Tigress
A bodybuilder pushes herself to the limit to defy expectations, both physically and socially.
Tischa Thomas cuts a beguiling figure in a tight dress, with strawberry blonde wig and enormous biceps. She is about to leave the US to compete in a bodybuilding competition in Romania, accompanied by her jaded but loyal coach. Her extraordinary transformation from overweight mother-of-three to disciplined athlete and dominatrix speaks volumes about the relationship between gender and race, not least because Tischa is neither trans nor queer. Yet everything about her experience is a pointed commentary on how transphobia, racism and gendered violence are intimately linked. This is a highly unusual film about black womanhood that undercuts and destabilises our perceptions at every turn.
Director-Screenwriters: Philipp Fussenegger, Dino Osmanović
Featuring: Tischa Thomas, Steve Scibelli, Edward Zahler
Germany-Austria-USA 2021. 80min
Screening with: The Glorious Ones
Queer black women and non-binary people share their best moments in this upbeat intergenerational discussion.
Director-Producer: Somina Fombo
UK 2021 | 23min
On its 20th anniversary, it’s a perfect time to revisit this bold, beautiful and epic tale of an extraordinary Brazilian nightlife legend, criminal, queen and hero.
Karim Aïnouz’s extraordinary tale of the larger-than-life Madame Satã premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. As vivid as the most exaggerated fiction, the film recounts the real life of a notorious figure in Rio de Janeiro’s bohemian underworld. Satã was a hustler, transvestite, gangster, chef, homosexual and father; a queen who became something of a folk hero, despite spending 27 years in prison. A born rebel, he also stood up to anyone who tried to get in his way. Dominating the film is Lázaro Ramos’ astounding, energetic performance as the indefatigable and stylish Satã, who confounds his enemies and stands as a symbol against the endemic racism that has traditionally endured in Brazilian society.
Director: Karim Aïnouz
Featuring: Lázaro Ramos, Marcélia Cartaxo, Flavio Bauraqui
France-Brazil 2002 | 105min
An Afrofuturist, a naked fetishist and a community activist walk into a barbershop.
Anyone who has entered the highly masculinised environment of a barbershop knows that it can be an intimidating space. This is doubly true for queer and gender non-conforming people, and triply so if you’re from a racialised background. Enter three individuals tackling the problem head on. Devan Shimoyama is an Afrofuturist painter who focuses on the barbershop as a social space, Jessie Anderson runs a queer barbershop in Vancouver, and Australian Richard Savvy gets his kit off as The Naked Barber. All three speak with warmth and candour about their attempts to make people look and feel good, and how the simple act of getting a cut is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Director: Broderick Fox
Featuring: Devan Shimoyama, Jessie Anderson, Richard Savvy
USA 2022 | 62min
MINDS features reflections on art, politics and community.
Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music
The biggest secret in Country music is coming out of the closet, in this moving and triumphant documentary.
Taking centre stage in TJ Parsell’s excellent film are the unsung heroes behind some of Country music’s biggest hits of the last four decades. These lesbian and bisexual women (and one trans man) have been silent for too long and are finally ready to speak out about the industry that kept them in the closet. Through heartfelt interviews, we hear about the homophobia that put an end to careers that were starting out and about gigs that dried up when a brave few dared to come out. Most movingly of all are the stories of friendship and support these performers found in each other as they fought for their music to be heard. Ensuring that these Country music pioneers are hidden no more, Invisible is a joyous and entertaining documentary for all music lovers.
Director-Screenwriter: TJ Parsell
Featuring: Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis
USA 2021 | 106min
It Runs in the Family (Lo que se hereda)
It’s finally here! After a rabble-rousing preview at Flare 2016, Rebel Dykes returns in all its ass-kicking, leather-wearing glory. The film follows a tight-knit group of friends who met at Greenham Common peace camp and went on to become artists, performers, musicians and activists in London. A heady mash-up of animation, archive footage and interviews tells the story of a radical scene: squatters, BDSM nightclubs, anti-Thatcher rallies, protests demanding action around AIDS and the fierce ties of chosen family. This is an extraordinarily privileged glimpse into a bygone world by those who not only lived out their politics with heartfelt conviction but lived to tell the tale.
Director-Screenwriter: Victoria Linares
Featuring: Victoria Linares
Dominican Republic-USA 2022 | 83min
Other films worth seeing:
Charli XCX: Alone Together – Acclaimed pop star Charli XCX teams up with her legions of queer fans across the globe to create a new album, in this warmhearted DIY documentary.
Flee (Flugt) – Amin’s engagement to Kasper motivates him to disclose for the first time his experiences as a teenage refugee in this stirring animated documentary.
The Divide (La fracture) – A lesbian relationship in crisis and a city in political turmoil are deftly explored in Catherine Corsini’s powerful political satire.
Whether it’s births, deaths and marriages, coming out or finding your own tribe, family in its many forms is at the centre of this shorts programme.
Once More, With Feeling
Lose yourself in the possibilities of love with these charming and engaging short films.
Strictly over 18s only.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Sometimes, the decisions we make can shape the rest of our lives. This collection of shorts explores the choices, the moments, the encounters that might just change everything.
Contains scenes of graphic sex. Strictly over 18s only.
Whether processing new feelings, or coming to terms with the past, all of the men in this poignant shorts collection are trying to make sense of where they are now.
Parallel Lives: UK Shorts Programme
Take an unpredictable journey through multiple genres with this selection of shorts showcasing the breadth of queer filmmaking in the UK.
Strength in Vulnerability
These POC shorts show that in a complex situation, self-knowledge is often the answer.
There Is No Place Like Home
Trans and gender diverse tales of home and belonging, interlaced with wonder in nature and the call of the wild.
Out Here Livin’
Black queer stories told with humour, insight and love.
It’s all bangers, all the time in these films focused on music as a tool for healing, rebellion and embracing queer identity.