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35th BFI Flare LGBTIQ+ film festival 2021

It’s arrived, the 35th BFI Flare film festival. Twelve days of screening, 26 feature films, and 38 free short films, from 23 countries. All films are available online on the BFI Player from the 17th-28th March. There will also be talks available on BFI YouTube and BFI Flare Facebook, including a Screen Talk with actor Russell Tovey. All widely available wherever you are in the UK.

The festival kicks off with the International premiere of JUMP, DARLING. A heartfelt family drama about a drag queen reconnecting with his aging grandmother, featuring a stunning performance from the late Hollywood legend Cloris Leachman in her final starring role, and there are more films to see, immerse yourself in and live through.

Our 2021 selection of Feature and Short films to see at the festival, includes films from Kenya, Canada, Israel, Portugal, France, Brazil, Germany, the UK and USA. There are films about love, activism, and campaigning, with some focusing on individuals and groups that made a difference. Tickets can be purchased on the BFI website.

 

FEATURE FILMS

BODIES includes stories of sex, identity and transformation.

I Am Samuel
This is as much a film about Kenya’s complex cultural landscape as it is about two young men who must keep their love a secret. As Murimi notes, ‘Most Kenyans are poor and live in rural areas or informal urban settlements where they cannot afford to hide dangerous secrets like their sexuality’. Filmed over the course of five years, I Am Samuel details how daily life is navigated, with both men negotiating their place in the world as heirs to a traditional way of life. At the same time, we are privileged to witness their commitment, daring and imagination as figures in the queer Kenyan underground. Murimi holds his gaze as he stares this fraught and troubling subject in the face.

Kenya, United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, South Africa 2020 | 70 minutes
Directed by: Pete Murimi

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson

On a day unlike any other, Tunde Johnson is confronted with both his sexuality and his race. After coming out to his parents, he is the victim of a racially motivated shooting. Instead of dying he repeatedly undergoes re-incarnation, but the opportunity to do things differently and avoid the tragic consequences of his actions meets the harsh reality of being black and queer in the US. A fresh take on the time loop narrative, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson examines the overlaps of wealth and race, beauty and sexuality, creating a disturbing universe where even the hereafter is a restless limbo upon which the burden of straddling many worlds at once constantly weighs.

USA 2019 | 104 minutes
Directed by: Ali LeRoi
Featuring: Steven Silver, Spencer Neville, Nicola Peltz

Valentina

Valentina wishes the only complications in her life were crushes on cute boys and fake IDs to go clubbing. But as a transgender teen in Brazil today, she faces significant social stigma and bureaucratic barriers. Her steadfast mum will do anything to smooth the path, so together they start over in a new town where nobody knows Valentina is trans. She becomes fast friends with a sweet gay guy and a pregnant computer nerd, but when they find themselves separated at a drunken party Valentina is harassed by someone who threatens to out her. However, with her steely support network and a maturity and resolve far beyond her years, she steamrollers the haters in this timely and transcendent drama.

Brazil 2020 | 95 minutes
Directed by: Cássio Pereira dos Santos
Featuring: Thiessa Woinbackk, Guta Stresser, Rômulo Braga

Well Rounded

Shana Myara’s documentary focuses on fat and fierce babes in Canada who are using their creativity to clap back at a diet culture that seeks to shrink marginalised bodies. Interviewees all tell stories of struggle, self-actualisation and radicalisation, and taking back charge in a fatphobic, racist heteronormative society. Here, fatness, queer identity and race intersect in unique ways that never get represented in film, underlined with a fat-ass bass soundtrack and gorgeous animation. It’s a truly liberating film, and through its use of burlesque, comedy, dance circus, media and more, you will be left in no doubt of the intrinsic value of ALL bodies. DIY, direct and full of heart, Well Rounded takes us through personal stories of terror and triumph – this is the fat queer film we’ve been waiting for!

Canada 2020 | 61 minutes
Directed by: Shana Myara
Featuring: Candy Palmater, Ivory, Lydia Okello

 

HEARTS includes films about love, romance and friendsh

Boy Meets Boy
It’s Harry’s final day in Berlin, and he has been partying for the last 48 hours. On the sweaty euphoria of the dancefloor he shares a kiss with Johannes. Striking up a conversation, Johannes offers to help Harry print his boarding pass, leading them to spend the rest of the day wandering the city streets together. But with Harry’s imminent flight back to the UKlooming, the pair are quickly forced to understand the true impact of this brief encounter. Boasting beautifully natural performances from Matthew James Morrison and Alexandros Koutsoulis, Boy Meets Boy is a distinctly modern queer love story, exploring the complexities of attraction and power of connection in ways that are both refreshingly realistic and achingly romantic.


Germany 2021 | 75 minutes
Directed by: Daniel Sánchez López
Featuring: Alexandros Koutsoulis, Matthew James Morrison

Sweetheart
The last place socially awkward 17-year-old AJ wants to be is on holiday at the seaside with her oh-so-annoying family. Dragged along by put-upon mum Tina, AJ is determined not to have fun. When she discovers the campsite doesn’t even have Wi-Fi, it promises to be the worst week of her life. But then a chance meeting with resident lifeguard Isla changes AJ’s perspective. Perhaps being stuck there with no means of escape isn’t so bad when there is the chance she could fall in love for the first time. Marley Morrison’s debut feature is a refreshing take on the coming-of-age story. Playing it confidently for laughs, with some dramatic currents underpinning the action, it features a knockout performance by Nell Barlow as the misunderstood AJ. A delight throughout and not to be missed.

United Kingdom 2021 | 103 minutes
Directed by: Marley Morrison
Featuring: Nell Barlow, Jo Hartley, Ella-Rae Smith

 

MINDS features reflections on art, politics and community.

Mama Gloria
Described as a ‘love letter to a charismatic activist’, Fisher’s heartfelt debut is a warm and honest depiction of trans life in Chicago’s Black community. Gloria Allen, also known as ‘Mama Gloria’, narrates her life from early childhood and becoming a fixture of the ball scene in Chicago’s South Side to creating a charm school for local trans girls, proving that trans women can live to old age. Gloria’s unique perspective dispels the myth that aggressive racism only existed in the southern states, and from that context the film confronts the distressing violence that has punctuated her life. Nonetheless, it is a life lived with the support of deep family ties, buoyed by faith and carried forward with remarkable kindness.

USA 2020 | 76 minutes
Directed by: Luchina Fisher
Featuring: Gloria Allen

Rebel Dykes
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.

United Kingdom 2021 | 82 minutes
Directed by: Harri Shanahan, Sîan Williams
Featuring: Siobhan Fahey

 

Other films worth seeing:

The Greenhouse – Discovering a way to travel back in time helps Beth come to terms with her present in this daringly original debut.

No Ordinary Man – The fascinating story of pioneering jazz musician Billy Tipton is brought thrillingly to life in this celebratory documentary portrait.
Includes insight from scholar, author, and activist, C. Riley Snorton on the interaction with Black musicians.

P.S. Burn This Letter Please – When a cache of letters written by 1950s New York drag queens was discovered in 2014, filmmakers Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera tracked down the authors to hear their story.
There is a brief and fascinating look at the Harlem drag scene at that time.

SHORT FILMS

 

Beginnings and Endings
From an unexpectedly eventful train journey, to the end of the world, this stunning collection of shorts explores the trials and triumphs of being your true self.

Buck – In an attempt to deal with his depression, Lynn goes out into the night looking for a good time.
Dirs. Elegance Bratton, Jovan James. USA 2020, 14mins.

Cosmopolitan – Jacob faces racial prejudice when he attempts to enter a gay nightclub.
Dir. Moran Nakar. Israel 2020, 7mins.

 

For the Record
Traversing a wide range of subjects, this inspiring selection of short form documentaries is guaranteed to provoke and inspire in equal measures.

Above the Troubled Water – Three Nigerian men are scattered across the globe after escaping homophobic violence.
Dir. Joe Cohen. United Kingdom, USA 2020, 38mins.

Tracing Utopia – Young queers connect in a sci-fi dream world to build a war machine of love and a virtual manifesto for the future.
Dirs. Catarina de Sousa, Nick Tyson. Portugal, USA 2021, 27mins.

 

Heart’s Desires
History, geography and personal circumstances may change but challenges facing the heart are timeless and universal.

The Act – One young man faces up to the joys and perils of living a gay life amidst the sexual repressiveness of pre-1967 London.
Dir. Thomas Hescott. United Kingdom 2020, 18mins.

Isaac and the Ram – A tense encounter between a young man in distress and his reluctant saviour.
Dir. Jason Bradbury. United Kingdom 2020, 15mins.

Of Hearts and Castles – When two lonely men meet they discover something revealing about each other and themselves.
Dir. Rubén Navarro. USA, Spain 2020, 14mins.

 

Into the Unknown
The blurred lines of love and friendship between women are explored in these poignant and beautiful short films.

The Cost of Living – Lily is stuck in a state of ennui, until Death comes along in the form of a beautiful woman and entices her to live.
Dir. Alice Trueman. United Kingdom 2021, 13mins.

Love Is a Hand Grenade – Mixing drink, drugs and a friendship on eggshells was always going to be an explosive mix in this bittersweet British mini drama.
Dir. Jessica Benhamou. United Kingdom 2020, 13mins.

 

Queer as in Question Everything
Here’s a collection of funny, sweet and strange shorts for the natural contrarian.

Acrimonious – Hilarious, heart-breaking and relatable all at once – how to bounce back when a breakup crashes you back down to earth?
Dir. Olivia Emden. United Kingdom 2020, 14mins.

Pure – Whoever you are, whatever your desires, you too shall go to the prom!
Dir. Natalie Harris. USA 2020, 12mins.

We Two – A smart, meditative take on the gulf that emerges between ex-lovers.
Dir. Grace Porter. United Kingdom 2020, 3mins.

 

Shapes We Make, Spaces We Take
Our relationship to our bodies and our homes have become more complex than ever. These five shorts up the ante, exploring where, how and with whom we feel at home.

Space / Walk – Two queer people talk intergenerational experience down on England’s south coast.
Dirs. Tarik Elmoutawakil, Amina Yousif, Carmen D’Cruz. United Kingdom 2020, 23mins.

Transitions II: Movement in Isolation – Aesthetically bold, visually rich – a beautiful non-linear encounter with the physical and social dimensions of chronic pain.
Dir. Tobi Adebajo. Nigeria, United Kingdom 2020, 12mins.

 

Striving to Be Seen
Inquisitive tales of resilience, memory and enlightenment in this largely fictional selection, traversing an expanse of trans experience across Europe and the Americas.

Dustin – A wild drug-fuelled ride and the long morning after follows the highs and lows of a Parisian party queen.
Dir. Naïla Guiguet. France 2020, 20mins.

Unliveable – Those close to a missing trans woman join forces to search for her, until a strange canister points towards an extra-terrestrial mystery.
Dirs. Matheus Farias, Enock Carvalho. Brazil 2020, 20mins.

64th BFI London Film Festival 2020 – Feature Films

From 7 to 18 October the BFI London Film Festival will be the first ever edition to be widely accessible wherever you are in the UK, with over 50 virtual premieres, free online events and cinema screenings across the land.

2020 has been the most extraordinary year and the London Film Festival follows the trend in bringing something completely new to the year. The 64th BFI London Film Festival this year is not bound by London, you can see films all over the country. To add to that, the festival this year is providing many opportunities to see over 50 virtual premieres via the BFI’s online platform. It’s a change that may affect the festival for many years to come which isn’t a bad thing. It’s great that the festival can go ahead this year even though the World has had the Coronavirus pandemic to deal with. So many things ground to a halt, but it hasn’t stopped the festival, and in this landmark year, there are still loads of films to see, immerse yourself in and live through.

In addition to the short films and feature films, the BFI London Film Festival is offering LFF Expanded – a set of films and experiences – an augmented reality, and AI-driven Virtual Reality -experiment. Some of the content on offer is best viewed via a VR headset, but many also offer direct viewing via your web access.

Here is our 2020 selection of films, LFF Expanded and events. Highlights include two films from Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology series – Mangrove and Lovers Rock. Regina King’s directorial debut with One Night In Miami, based on Kemp Powers stage play about a night in Miami with Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown. Kemp Power also brings Pixar movie, Soul co directed with Pete Docter and featuring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, and Phylicia Rashad. Yemi Bamiro’s One Man and His Shoes looks at the legacy of Nikes, Michael Jordon promoted, basketball shoes, Air Jordons. Time takes us on a 20-year campaign by wife Fox Richardson to get her husband released from a life sentence, and 15 years after his film, Injustice charting deaths in custody, Ken Fero brings us Ultraviolence.

ALSO SEE OUR SHORT FILM SELECTION

Videos

African Apocalypse:

 

Cicada:

 

One Man and His Shoes:

 

Time:

 

Ultraviolence:

 

7th October

Mangrove

DEBATE

“The Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill doubled as a community centre for Black Londoners to exchange ideas and to commune. As police brutality and harassment intensified, the Mangrove also became a site of resistance leading to the wrongful arrest for incitement to riot of nine local activists including Altheia Jones-LeCointe (Letitia Wright) and Darcus Howe (Malachi Kirby). Oscar-winner Steve McQueen’s depiction of the infamous 55-day trial is a moving instalment from his Small Axe anthology series, a collection of films that evoke memories, political events and a critical perspective on life for London’s West Indian community between the 1960s and 1980s.”

United Kingdom 2019 | 126 minutes

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Featuring: Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, Malachi Kirby, Rochenda Sandall, Jack Lowden

 

9th October

Farewell Amor (also 12th October)

LOVE

“A New York-based Angolan man finally reunited with his wife and daughter – Esther and Sylvia arrive from Angola to live with Walter, who left his war-torn homeland 17 years ago. Sharing a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, they try to rebuild their lives together and overcome the personal and political differences that developed in their years apart. Walter accepts that he can no longer play the role of the single man, while Esther has become a devout Christian, secretly sending what little they earn to her church back home. Meanwhile, Sylvia tries to adjust to life in this foreign land.”

USA 2019 | 101 minutes

Directed by: Ekwa Msangi

Featuring: Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Zainab Jah, Jayme Lawson

 

Time (also 10th, 11th, 13th, 15th October)

DEBATE

“Fox Richardson has spent over 20 years campaigning for the release of her husband, who was sentenced to life without parole for a botched armed robbery. At the same time, she single-handedly raised six sensitive and bright sons. Garrett Bradley’s (America) feature showcases her tremendous talent and ambition, deftly combining home video archive and contemporary footage of Fox and her sons, presenting a remarkably resilient woman who transformed from being collateral damage of the US penal system into an inspirational campaigner. Enhanced by stunning black and white photography and an evocative blues score. An epic personal journey of hardship and hope, it reveals the devastating effects of mass incarceration on Black communities in America.”

USA 2020 | 81 minutes

Directed by: Garrett Bradley

 

10th October

I Am Samuel (also 13th October)

JOURNEY

“Samuel was born and raised on a farm in rural Kenya. Moving to its capital, Nairobi, he meets and falls in love with Alex. Samuel’s father, a preacher at his local village church a few miles from the capital, expects his son to marry and looks forward to the day when he brings home a daughter-in-law. While Alex and Samuel’s love for each other thrives, they remain constantly aware of the shadows of violence creeping around them. After all, under the Kenyan constitution’s penal code, introduced by the British some 100 years ago, homosexual acts carry a 14-year prison sentence.”

Content warning: this film contains scenes of homophobic violence.

Kenya 2020

Directed by: Pete Murimi

 

11th October

Eyimofe (This is My Desire) (also 14th October)

JOURNEY

“The rich tones and complex hues of the Esiri brothers’ striking portrait of migration highlights what is left behind. Set in Lagos and divided into the provocatively titled chapters ‘Spain’ and ‘Italy’, we follow Mofe (Jude Akuwudike), a factory technician and Rosa (Temi Ami-Williams), a hairdresser as tragedy and survival fuel their desires for a better life’ in Europe. Captured with stoic precision on 16mm, Eyimofe (This is My Desire) resists the temptation of high drama to show the sprawling city and the forces that propel its unique social dynamic. The elegant directorial eye of Arie and Chuko Esiri combined with skilful performances from Akuwudike and Ami-Williams mark the film as another great contribution to the burgeoning independent Nigerian new wave.

Nigeria 2019 | 114 minutes

Directed by: Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri

Featuring: Jude Akuwudike, Tomiwa Edun, Temi Ami-Williams

 

Industry (also 14th October)

DEBATE

Episodes 1, 2 and 4

“An investment bank’s graduate programme is a hotbed of ambition and insecurity in this timely, tightly-plotted drama. Led by rising star Myha’la Herrold, these friends and rivals navigate a toxic culture of ego, excess and the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis as they compete for permanent jobs. Lena Dunham directs the first episode with verve, providing a typically frank lens on sex, drugs and millennial vulnerability. Writers Kay and Down subvert expectations at every turn, delivering a fresh and incisive exploration of race, class and the price of success.”

UK 2019 | c.145 minutes

Directed by: Lena Dunham, Tinge Krishnan, Ed Lilly

 

One Night in Miami… (also 12th October)

JOURNEY

“Based on Kemp Powers’ award-winning stage play, One Night in Miami… is the imagined story of what followed 22-year-old Muhammad Ali’s (Eli Goree) 1964 victory over heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Sat ringside are Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). The film explores the personal and political conflicts faced by the men — balancing their public image in a world where the pinnacle of success for a black person was to be a sportsperson or entertainer, alongside their drive to fight for black liberation. The conversations that followed were not without conflict and King’s depictions of their lives apart from each other is as much a testament to the strength of their character as it is the power of the film’s thrilling narrative. This was a meeting of minds on a historic night.“

USA 2020 | 111 minutes

Directed by ; Regina King

Featuring: Ben-Adir Kingsley, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr

 

Soul (also 13th, 14th, 17th October)

FAMILY

“Jamie Foxx is Joe Gardner, a music teacher who lives for his art. Just as his professional career is about to take off, a fateful mishap finds him embarking on an unexpected journey of self-discovery to The Great Before, an incredible place where new souls are born. Unfolding across a series of beautifully realised worlds, Soul takes a refreshing look at how we become ourselves. With an all-star cast that includes Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs, Angela Bassett and Tina Fey, Docter and co-director Kemp Powers along with producer Dana Murray have crafted a universal narrative that will appeal to all ages, and a universe that is as smart and life-affirming as it is funny and exciting. The perfect film for your heart, body and, well…soul.”

USA 2020 | c100 minutes

Directed by: Pete Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers

Featuring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad

 

12th October

Cicada

LOVE

“New York City, 2013. Introspective bisexual Ben drifts from one casual encounter to the next. While his recent relationships barely last past morning, things change when he meets Sam, a handsome stranger with whom he forms an immediate connection. But as they spend more time together, both men begin to recognise the need to confront past traumas if they are to truly let the other person in. Based on personal experience, writer/director/star Matt Fifer and co-director Kieran Mulcare have crafted a richly textured drama, tackling complex subjects with grace, delicacy and uncompromising honesty. Fifer’s sympathetic central performance is ably matched by co-writer Sheldon D Brown’s nuanced turn as Sam, with the pair establishing an effortless on-screen connection that brings real heart to their timely and, ultimately, hopeful tale.”

USA 2020 | 93 minutes

Directed by: Matt Fifer, Kieran Mulcare

Featuring: Matt Fifer, Sheldon D. Brown, Sandra Bauleo

 

Ultraviolence

DEBATE

“Since 1969, there have been over 2000 deaths in police custody in the UK. It is a frightening statistic that Ken Fero approaches with seasoned conviction. 15 years after his ground-breaking film Injustice, Ultraviolence employs unflinching archival footage to document the tragic and undignified deaths that took place between 1995 and 2005. Victims include Fero’s classmate Brian Douglas and Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot and killed whilst travelling on the London underground. With intimate access to a variety of sources, Fero encounters families devastated by these killings and subsequently thwarted in their struggle for justice. Ultraviolence shows a corrupt system failing UK citizens.”

United Kingdom 2020 | 75 minutes

Directed by: Ken Fero

 

13th October

One Man and His Shoes (also 13th, 16th October)

DEBATE

“South Londoner Yemi Bamiro follows his impressive short works with a debut feature documentary of scale – examining the cultural and commercial phenomena of Michael Jordan against the increasing commodification of Black culture and a lack of corporate accountability. A sportsman with once-in-a-generation talent, Jordan was held up as a symbol of Black progress; he had his own phenomenally successful trainer brand that made Nike one of the most profitable companies in the world. Bamiro deftly charts the rise of Jordan against 80’s and 90’s pop culture milestones: hip hop, Spike Lee, the emergence of the mega-watt and mega-rich sports personalities. He also highlights how brands became savvy manipulators of youth culture by stoking America’s toxic obsession with consumerism and celebrity in a climate of increasing class and race inequality.”

United Kingdom 2020

Directed by: Yemi Bamiro

 

14th October

David Byrne’s American Utopia (also 15th October)

CREATE

“‘Do we get stupider as we grow up?’ In his wildly popular Broadway show American Utopia, Byrne reflects on human connections, life and how on earth we work through it. He joins the dots with his music and it all starts making sense. Spike Lee here transforms the production into immersive, dynamic cinema that radiates with astounding performances, inventive contemporary dance and political urgency. American Utopia flows like an iridescent dream vision. Work by James Baldwin, Janelle Monáe and Kurt Schwitters is highlighted among exhilarating renditions of Byrne’s solo work as well as Talking Heads classics. According to the multi-hyphenate, we love looking at humans more than anything else. Anti-fascist and anti-racist, Byrne illuminates our responsibility to care for one another as he and his co-performers burn down the house.”

USA 2020 | 105 minutes

Directed by: Spike Lee

Featuring: David Byrne, Jaqueline Acevedo, Gustavo di Dalva, Bobby Wooton III

 

16th October

African Apocalypse (also 19th October)

DEBATE

“When British-Nigerian poet and activist Femi Nylander discovered Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the novel that Barack Obama claims helped him understand why ‘white people are afraid’, he was immediately drawn to understanding this distorted vision of Africa. Embarking on a spiritual journey to Niger, Femi uncovers the violent legacy of the real-life counterpart to Conrad’s novel, French Captain Paul Voulet, whose genocidal mission in 1898 can still be felt today, through subsequent generations of his victims. A brutal indictment of colonialism that never shies away from the horrifying terrorism Africans endured under colonial rule.”

United Kingdom, Niger 2020 | 88 minutes

Directed by: Rob Lemkin

 

Limbo

JOURNEY

“Limbo is at once deadpan comedy and also poignant tale of a group of refugees stuck, pending asylum, on a weather-beaten Hebridean outpost, the Uists. Sharrock cites Elia Suleiman as an inspiration and here too we see a deep humanism behind the wry gaze and a desire to move beyond cross cultural narratives of simple reconciliation. Rising UK star Amir El-Masry impresses as Omar, one of four men in this ‘limbo’ together, who find a bond in the shared strangeness of their situation and distance from their own countries and families.”

United Kingdom 2020 | 103 minutes

Directed by: Ben Sharrock

Featuring: Amir El-Masry, Vikash Bhai, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Kwabena Ansah, Ola Orebiyi

 

18th October

Lovers Rock

LOVE

“Another in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe collection of vivid memories, political indictments and historical artefacts depicting Black West Indian presence in London. In this edition, it’s a Saturday sometime in the 80s, Samson preps his sound system for Blues dance while Martha shimmies down her drainpipe, and Franklin, drenched in Brut, is primed to steal a heart. Red Stripe costs a pound, sweat drips from the walls as hips lock to the rhythm of lovers’ rock, and souls are possessed by dub vibrations. McQueen’s roving camera and luminous cast spread out and fill the screen. Inviting us to remember, not so much the good times, as the spectres of racism and violence loom, but the risk and reward of letting go for a night.”

United Kingdom 2020 | 68 minutes

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Written by: Courttia Newland, Steve McQueen

Featuring: Amarah-Jae St Aubyn, Michael Ward, Shaniqua Okwok, Kedar Williams-Stirling

 

LFF EXPANDED

Available 7th-18th October 2020

All Kinds of Limbo

The National Theatre’s musical VR experience transports the viewer into a vibrant theatrical world inspired by the influence of Caribbean culture upon the UK music scene.

You’ll need an Oculus Rift, Rift S or HTC Vive tethered headset to experience this work for free

UK, 2019 | 14 minutes
World Premiere (Individual Audience Version)

Format: 6DOF

Devised and Directed by Toby Coffey

Composed by Raffy Bushman & Nubiya Brandon

Lyrics by Nubiya Brandon

 

Common Ground (360 Version)

One of the most influential VR documentaries of the last few years deals with the recent history of the infamous Aylesbury Estate and its influence on UK housing policy.

You don’t need any special tech to experience this work for free, or you can use a headset.

UK, 2019
World Premiere (360 Version)
Format: 3DoF   

Written, Produced and Directed: Darren Emerson
Contributors:
Jean Bartlett, John Boughton, Kevin Holland, Aysen Dennis, Judi Bos, Anthony Badu

Gimme One

Get to know 5 members of the thrilling Ballroom scene in the UK while they explore their gender and sexuality through dance, in this ravishing VR documentary.

 

Virtual (Black) Reality:

Immerse yourselves in the lives of 4 Africa-descended Berliners and Parisians, whose realities offer a window into very different experiences of everyday life. Comprising the Afropean experience, they follow the stories of Bella, Babs, Kwesi, and ShaNon, unified by their origins and cultural backgrounds.

Virtual (Black) Reality: Volume 2 – Babs

Babs sees his barber shop in Paris as a melting pot for people from all cultural backgrounds and religions to create a shared sense of community.

Virtual (Black) Reality: Volume 2 – Bella

Angolan-descendant Bella embraces life as a dancer and dance teacher in Berlin.

Virtual (Black) Reality: Volume 2 – Kwesi

Kwesi, who works at the Each One Teach One library in Berlin, shares his views on early German colonial aggression on the African continent.

Virtual (Black) Reality: Volume 2 – ShaNon

Having migrated at an early age from Uganda, ShaNon believes in the plurality of origins and sees in her heritage so much more than an ‘Afropean’ cultural background.

UK 2020 | 14 minutes

Baff Akoto

World Premiere

Format: VR180

 

Updated ~ TV: Black Cinema Season on Film4: Wed 2 – Mon 14 Nov

To tie-in with the launch of the BFI’s Black Star season, Film4 presents a celebration of black filmmaking talent both in front of and behind the camera.

Wednesday 2nd November

12 Years A Slave12-years-a-slave – 9pm

Steve McQueen’s Film4-backed historical drama, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender

Thursday 3rd November

shameShame – 11.10pm

Michael Fassbender stars as a New York sex addict, directed by Steve McQueen

hunger-steve-mcqueenHunger – 1.15am

Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen directs an account of the IRA hunger strike and its leader Bobby Sands.

Friday 4th November

noel-clarke-the-anomalyThe Anomaly – 9pm

Former soldier Ryan (Noel Clarke) experiences his life in ten minute spells, jumping further into the future after every one

ghost-dog-samuraiGhost Dog: The Way of the Samurai – 12.40am

ghost-dog-samurai2Idiosyncratic director Jim Jarmusch pays homage to the samurai movie with a hybrid of the hip hop and mob genres. Forest Whitaker stars as a loner hitman in this hauntingly poetic and obliquely funny gem

Saturday 5th November

Just Wrightjust-wright – 4:50pm

Queen Latifah plays a physical therapist falling for Common’s recovering basketball pro in this romantic comedy

Man On Firema6n-on-fire – 11:05pm

Denzel Washington stars as the bodyguard of the daughter of a wealthy couple in Mexico City who wreaks bloody revenge when she is kidnapped. Action thriller from Tony Scott

Sunday 6th November

Brewster’s Millionsbrewsters-millions – 4.40pm

Richard Pryor stars as Montgomery Brewster, a low-league baseball player who discovers that a distant relative has left him $300m in their will

PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia – 9pm

Denzel Washington and Oscar-winning Tom Hanks star in Jonathan Demme’s powerful drama.

bringing-down-the-houseBringing Down the House – 11.35pm

Odd couples don’t come much odder than Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, who team up for this mildly diverting but very predictable farce from the director of The Wedding Planner

Monday 7th November

irobotI, Robot – 6.45pm

Futuristic thriller starring Will Smith as a troubled cop whose issues with the ever-increasing robot population are seemingly vindicated when one of them becomes a murder suspect. Slick sci-fi from Alex Proyas, director of Dark City

mona-lisaMona Lisa – 1.20am

From award winning Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan, this is the unsettling story of George, a small-time crook and eternal victim

Tuesday 8th November

babymother1Babymother – 2.05am

babymotherSingle mother Anita (Anjela Lauren Smith) has attitude and ambition, and determined to become a successful singer forms an all girl reggae group with her two friends.

Wednesday 9th November

negotiator-samuel-l-jacksonThe Negotiator – 11pm

Based-on-a-true-story thriller starring Samuel L Jackson and Kevin Spacey as two police negotiators going head to head.

gone-too-farGone Too Far – 1:50am

Two estranged teenage brothers, one who grew up in Nigeria and one who grew up in Peckham, meet for the first time and struggle to accept each other

Thursday 10th November

12-years-a-slave12 Years a Slave – 9pm

Steve McQueen’s Film4-backed historical drama, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender

 

whats-love-got-toWhat’s Love Got To Do With It – 11.30pm

Agreeably camped-up biopic, ringing with righteous sentimentality and brassy defiance, with a furiously good central performance from Bassett.

second-comingSecond Coming – 1.50am

Debbie Tucker Green’s drama follows a tight family unit navigating their way through family life as it breaks down in the aftermath of an unexplained pregnancy

Friday 11th November

GhostGhost – 11.05pm

Heaven can wait for Patrick Swayze in this supernatural love story starring Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg.

 

Saturday 12th November

irobotI, Robot – 6.45pm
Futuristic thriller starring Will Smith as a troubled cop whose issues with the ever-increasing robot population are seemingly vindicated when one of them becomes a murder suspect. Slick sci-fi from Alex Proyas, director of Dark City

48-hours.jpg48 HRS. – 12am

Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy star in Walter Hill’s fast and furious cop comedy. Murphy is the motor-mouthed crook who helps cynical cop Nolte avenge the death of the latter’s former associates

Sunday 13th November

Last King of Scotland.jpgThe Last King Of Scotland – 11pm

Forest Whitaker stars in this blistering thriller about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin

 

Monday 14th November

best-man-holidayThe Best Man Holiday – 9pm

Malcolm D Lee directs this heart-warming comedy-drama sequel to 1999’s The Best Man.

 

Check here for updates, additions and changes: http://www.film4.com/whats-on/black-cinema-season-on-film4

33 Films to see at the 60th London Film Festival 2016

Update: Tickets still available: http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff/ticket-availability


The programme for this years BFI London Film Festival runs from 5-16th October 2016. Every year, EC Forde and I try and outline the films that interest us.  Some will get a big cinema release, others, a smaller cinema release, and some you may catch at other festivals and screening events. The rest may just vanish from our radar, with the hope that they pop up somewhere in the future (e.g. TV/DVD/Event). So this is the perfect opportunity to see films from around the world. Particularly interesting this year are the number of films we wanted to list. 33 features, and 13 short films.

They take us on a journey through, Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Botswana, South Africa, America, Uganda, Haiti, France and the UK.

See  our selection below and find out more on the BFI 60th London Film Festival website.

EC Forde & Jammie xx


Feature Films

The 13th

13th-06Director Ava DuVernay presents a searing look at a century of race relations in America in this far-reaching and powerful documentary.

Thu 6
76

76-the-movie-hidingA terse political drama from Nigeria deals with the ramifications for a group linked to the assassination in 1976 of General Murtala Mohammed.

Sat 15
All This Panic

all-this-panic-sage-adamsSeven New York teens emerge from the turbulent ‘panic’ years into nearly adulthood in this astonishingly intimate documentary.

Fri 7, Sat 8
American Honey

american-honey-02Andrea Arnold dazzles with a sun-soaked and tune-filled epic about door-to-door teenage magazine sellers travelling the American highways.

Fri 7, Sat 8, Tue 11
Arrival

arrival_forrestAmy Adams and Jeremy Renner star as the humans who make first contact with extraterrestrial visitors in this richly textured sci-fi from director Denis Villeneuve.

Mon 10, Tue 11, Thu 13
Being 17

being-17-05Hormonal aggression sparks an intense enmity between two 17-year-old schoolboys in the snowy Pyrenees, until the true connection between them surprises everyone.

Mon 10, Tue 11, Sun 16
The Birth of a Nation

The Birth of a Nation

This explosive Sundance-winning drama follows Nat Turner, a preacher who became the radical leader of an uprising against slavery.

Tue 11, Wed 12, Thu 13
Born In Flames

born-in-flames-01Lizzie Borden’s provocative feminist sci-fi returns to our screens and has lost none of its power.

Sat 15
Chi-Raq

Chi-RaqSpike Lee reimagines Aristophanes’ ancient Greek play Lysistrata as a dazzling modern-day hip-hop musical set in Chicago.

Sat 15, Sun 16
Daughters of the Dust [Treasure]

daughters-of-the-dust-still-six-women-group-shotJulie Dash’s groundbreaking Daughters of the Dust remains urgent and poetic and continues to resonate, most recently inspiring Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

Sat 8, Sat 15
Divines

divinesThe gangster genre is given a shrewd feminist makeover in this arresting debut about a young girl embarking on a life of crime.

Thu 6, Fri 7, Tue 11
Fonko

fonko-01A pulsating journey through the electronic urban musical underground of Africa that looks at how the new sounds are defining a generation, from the team behind Black Power Mixtape (LFF2011).

Sat 8, Mon 10
Hissein Habré, A Chadian Tragedy

hissein-habre-chadian-tragedy-01Mahamet-Saleh Haroun (Darrat) returns to the theme of the personal and societal responsibility with this searing documentary about ex-Chadian President Hissein Habré.

Sat 8, Sun 9
Hospital [Treasure]

hospitalAn outstanding restoration of Frederick Wiseman’s unforgettably gripping documentary portrait of New York’s Metropolitan Hospital.

Sun 9
I called him Morgan

i_called_him_morganPart true-crime tale, part love story, this vivid portrait of legendary hard bop jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan is an all-out musical treat (from the director of My Name is Albert Ayler).

Fri 7
The Illinois Parables

The Illinois Parables

Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois.

Mon 10
Jewel’s Catch One

jewels-catch-oneA rousing doc about LA’s first black LGBT disco, defiantly opened in 1973 and beloved by music royalty from Sylvester to Madonna.

Sat 8, sun 9
Layla M

layla-m-01The gripping and powerful story of a young girl’s path towards radicalisation from director Mijke de Jong (Bluebird).

Tue 11, Thu 13
Lovetrue

lovetrue_3Following her groundbreaking debut Bombay Beach, director Alma Har’el returns with another genre-bending, visually stunning gem about our perception of love and relationships, including the psyche of Victory, a young black woman in New York City pondering family bonds and faith.

Sat 8, Mon 10
Mimosas

mimosas-01A mesmerising combination of travelogue, mysticism and documentary from Spanish director Oliver Laxe, as a young man goes on a mission in the Atlas Mountains.

Thu 6, Fri 7
Moonlight

MoonlightBased on the play ‘In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue’, Moonlight follows Chiron as he finds his identity and sexuality in Miami in the 1980s.

Thu 6, Fri 7, Sat 8
A Moving Image

shola-amoo-a-moving-image-south-london-gentrification-3The gentrification of London’s Brixton is examined in this probing and stylistically ambitious debut feature.

Sat 8, Fri 14, Sun 16
Nocturama

nocturama-01French director Bertrand Bonello imagines Paris in a state of apocalypse, in a provocative, troubling response to the contemporary age of terror.

Sat 15, Sun 16
On Call

La Permanence

on-call-01Filmed in a walk-in service for asylum seekers in an hospital near Paris, this timely documentary captures with great humanity dozens of personal stories.

Wed 12, Fri 14
The Pass

pass-01Two ‘straight’ footballers share a kiss in this powerful chamber piece which opened BFI Flare earlier this year.

Wed 12, Fri 14
Queen of Katwe

Queen of KatweThe powerful true life tale of one girl’s determination to escape from poverty in Uganda by becoming a chess champion, directed by Mira Nair and starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga.

Sun 9, Mon 10, Wed 12
The Revolution Won’t Be Televised

revolution-wont-be-televised-01Rama Thiaw’s film taps into an example of grassroots political action in Senegal, where a group of disenfranchised activists decide to campaign against that country’s elite.

Sun 9, Mon 10
Stolkholm My Love

stockholm-my-love-rainNeneh Cherry, director Mark Cousins (I am Belfast) and cinematographer Christopher Doyle  create an inventive docu-style fiction and a love song to the Swedish city.

Tue 11, Wed 12
Those Who Jump

Les Sauteurs

those-who-jump-still-playing-bootball“I exist because I film” – the compelling first-hand account of an African migrant enduring great hardship to reach Europe and make a better life.

Thu 13, Sat 15
A United Kingdom

united-kingdom-01Amma Asante (Belle, A Way of Life) opens the Festival with this impassioned drama depicting an interracial romance that changed the world.

Wed 5, Thu 6, Tue 11
The Wedding Ring

Zin’naariyâ!

wedding-ring-01A female-directed and rare film from Niger, about a privileged young woman who comes back home, in the sultanate of Zinder, after studying in Paris to discover the truth of the relationships between women and men in her society.

Fri 14
White Colour Black

white-colour-black-01A young mixed heritage man confronts the psychological complexities of his identity in this essential, truly cinematic discovery for anyone interested in Black British cinema.

Sat 15
Wùlu

wulu-02What happens when a life of crime offers more opportunity than living an honest life? It’s a challenge Malian bus driver Ladji faces in this superb drama.

Fri 7, Sat 8

Short Films

Hollywood Disections – Sat 8
juke-01Juke – Passages From The Films of Spencer WilliamsThe career of African American actor, director and scriptwriter Spencer Williams re-enacted in a plotless montage film.
London Calling – Thu 13, Fri 14
pregnant-pause-01Pregnant PausePee. Wait. Panic. Steph is in a happy, long-term relationship, but now that she might be pregnant she has no idea what she wants.
we-love-moses-01We Love MosesTwelve-year-old Ella’s obsession with her brother’s best friend lands her with a potent secret.
Love in a Void – Wed 5, Fri 7
nkosi_coiffure_2Nkosi CoiffureEva escapes her boyfriend on the street of Brussels’ Congolese neighbourhood. She finds solace in an afro hair salon. Initially, at least.
New Kind of Kick – Fri 7, Sat 8
best-last-best-plane-ride-ever-01The Best Last Best Plane Ride EverOctober, 1986. The NY Mets beat the Houston Astros. This animation recreates their post-game airplane celebration: three hours of unbridled chaos.
Returning and Repressing – Sun 9
ears-nose-and-throat-01Ears, Nose and ThroatWhile under a medical examination, a modest woman unburdens her traumatic witnessing of the shooting of a man by his friend.
liliesleaf-farm-mayibuye-01 Liliesleaf Farm Mayibuye: In Search of the Spectres of HistoryUsing double screen, the filmmaker juxtaposes her domestic family history with that of Nelson Mandela prior to his arrest.
on-a-wing-and-a-prayer-01On a Wing and a PrayerA recreation of the 31-mile walk of refugee Abdul Rahman Haroun through the Eurotunnel, only for him to be arrested under an arcane Victorian railway law.
reluctantly-queer-01Reluctantly QueerA young Ghanaian man confesses his confusion around his sexuality and his desire to please his mother.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination – Wed 12
girl-who-danced-with-the-devil-01The Girl Who Danced With the Devil (A moça que dançou com o Diabo) A girl from a very religious family seeks her own paradise.
Teen Creeps – Thu 6, Thu 13
crystal-lake-01Crystal LakeA group of young girls take over a skate park. There, on the reclaimed ramp and with no boys around, they thrive.
send-off-01The Send-OffEmboldened by a giant block party on the evening of their high school prom, a group of students enter the night with hope for the future.
The Past is the Present Too – Fri 14
sea-is-history-01The Sea is History (work in progress)The Sea is History, made in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is a free adaptation of the poem by Derek Walcott as a materialist and animist critique of the monumentalisation of European colonial history and its ripples into the present.

Events & Talks

  1. Black Mirror Preview
  2. Lynette Wallworth

FILM THIS WEEK: Welcome to New York | Lilting | Planes 2: Fire and Rescue

FILM THIS WEEK: Welcome to New York | Lilting | Planes 2: Fire and Rescue

Ratings: ★ ✩ ✮ ✰ ☆

Friday 8th August


Welcome to New York. (18)


SYNOPSIS: Mr Devereaux (Gérard Depardieu) is a powerful man who controls billions of dollars every day as head of the World Bank. Devereaux, a self-confessed sex addict, spends a wild night with prostitutes in a high class New York hotel. In the morning, he is caught in the shower by a maid and proceeds to attack her. The story is about his arrest, and the impact it has on his career, his family, particularly his wife (Jacqueline Bissett). It has close similarities to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case in 2011.


Gérard Depardieu opens as Devereaux, a raunchy, sex-obsessed business man, who arrives at a hotel in New York, for one night of debauchery before heading back to Paris. The start of the film doesn’t hide behind subtleties. We’re talking sex, rough, sometimes brutal, orgies, prostitutes, uninhibited sex. It came as something of a surprise and is such a sharp contrast to the rest of the film, it almost feels gratuitous. However, at defining a character, Devereaux, it did an almost perfect job at showing his behaviour, without delving into his mind-set.

Depardieu’s performance was amazing, he sounded like a man about to keel over at any time, with lots of grunting, and wheezing and appearing to struggle with his health and weight. In fact, I thought this was his actual condition, rather than acting, and worried for the man!
Welcome to New York 2
In some ways, it feels like I watched two films, with Devereaux having the focus in the first half, his role seems to diminish as the story skims the surface of the court cases, and focuses in on his wife –rich and ambitious, Simone Devereaux. I wanted to know more about her – her background is only hinted at, and she spends much of the time berating Devereaux.

It’s an interesting film to watch, but again, it raises more questions than it answers. Notice the complete absence of how the maid’s story developed over this period. This is a focus on Devereaux, his wife, and their relationship during this time, with flashbacks to some of Devereaux’s previous encounters with women. Its focus seems incomplete but very accusatory, and you’ll come away thinking about Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Rated: 3 – ✩✰☆

Director: Abel Ferrara
Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Jacqueline Bisset, Drena De Niro, Marie Mouté, Amy Ferguson, Paul Calderon, Pamela Afesi, JD Taylor


Lilting (15)

Lilting 2


SYNOPSIS: The opening film of this year’s BFI Flare Festival, Lilting tells the story of a Cambodian-Chinese mother mourning the untimely death of her son. Her world is suddenly disrupted by the presence of a stranger, and we observe their difficulties in trying to connect with one another without a common language. Through a translator they piece together memories of a man they both loved dearly, and realise that while they may not share a language, they are connected in their grief.


Richard (Ben Whishaw) goes to meet Junn (Pei-Pei Cheng) who is living in a residential home. Their only connection is Kai (Andrew Leung), Junn’s recently deceased son. Junn doesn’t speak English, and Richard hires a translator to help them to communicate, to see if Junn is okay and offer help now that her child is gone. The only thing they have in common are their memories of Kai, told in flashback.

Richard’s sadness envelops his scenes. It’s sadness, tinged with longing. Longing for understanding, for connection, and to say the unsaid, in spite of the language barrier. Junn on the other hand seems not to want to communicate with this stranger, doesn’t want to hear what he has to say.

Both Ben Whishaw and Pei-Pei Cheng give great performances, showing their pain, anger, and grief in such a delicate way as they manoeuvre around each others feelings and emotions.

Rated: 3½ – ✩✰☆½

Director: Hong Khaou
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Pei-Pei Cheng, Morven Christie, Peter Bowles


Planes 2: Fire and Rescue (3D)

Planes2


SYNOPSIS: When Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, plus that the corn-fest may be cancelled if there is no suitable fire provision, he joins a forest fire and rescue unit to be trained as a firefighter, and save the festival.


 

Dusty heads to the Piston Peak National Park, to learn the trade – an interesting area in the work of planes, and very worthy, but it wasn’t enough to keep my full attention for the, duration of the film. The film is filled with ‘fires’ and erm… ‘rescues’, and some chuckle worthy jokes, but Dusty, the ‘hero’ seemed to be a complete pain in the neck, ‘hard-ears’, and was the cause of a few of the problems.

The film didn’t seem to keep the attention of the children who were watching it either – I don’t think an appreciation of the brave work of Firefighters was really working for them. It was all a bit too much information, and repetitive action – one great fire scene is much like another, the peril is always the same – someone might get hurt! The kids soon seemed to tire of this. The film is entertaining enough, ‘Go Dusty!’ But, if you feel the need to take the kids to see it this summer, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

As always though, great look to the film, and gorgeous colours

Rated: 2 – ✩✰

Director: Bobs Gannaway
Starring: Dana Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Curtis Armstrong, John Michael Higgins, Hal Holbrook, Wes Studi