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65th BFI London Film Festival 2021

The 65th BFI London Film Festival builds on the online only festival of 2020’s ‘year of the pandemic’ and continues to include the newer streams of augmented reality, and AI-driven Virtual Reality content in LFF Expanded, plus TV Series’ reflecting on the changes and developments in the way we consume content.

As always, there are loads of films to see, immerse yourself in and live through. Highlights include: Jeymes Samuels, The Harder They Fall, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, and King Richard, based on Richard Williams drive to turn Venus and Serena into tennis superstars.

The festival is on from 6 to 17 October 2021, with films available in cinemas with screenings around the UK, available virtually, and with access to free events and films.

We’ve also picked out some superb SHORT FILMS which you can view for free on the BFI Player.


Here are our 2021 selection of films, LFF Expanded and Awards:

GALAS

OPENING NIGHT GALA

The Harder They Fall: Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) has dedicated his life to hunting down members of the gang led by the vicious Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), who murdered his parents in front of him. Inspired by the real-life stories of African-American cowboys and featuring an all-star cast. London-born musician and filmmaker Jeymes Samuel’s feature debut is an explosive and stylish Western quite unlike any other.

Wed 6 | Thur 7 | Sun 10

Director: Jeymes Samuel. Screenwriter: Jeymes Samuel, Boaz Yakin. Producers: Shawn Carter, James Lassiter, Lawrence Bender, Jeymes Samuel. Cast: Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King, Idris Elba.

Country: USA


CLOSING NIGHT GALA

The Tragedy of Macbeth: Shakespeare’s iconic and much adapted text, written on these shores over 400 years ago, gets a wonderfully fresh and singular reworking in Joel Coen’s first solo outing as a director. Coen dazzlingly adapts this Scottish play for the screen with Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington mesmeric as the couple whose political ambitions proved their fatal downfall.

Sun 17

Director-Screenwriter: Joel Coen. Producers: Joel Coen, Frances McDormand, Robert Graf. Cast: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson.

Country: USA


HEADLINE GALA

King Richard: In the Compton suburbs of the early 1990s, Richard Williams has his sights firmly set on superstardom for his two young daughters, Venus and Serena. Will Smith delivers one of his best performances as the ambitious father of two sporting prodigies in this rousing, hugely enjoyable biopic.

Fri 15 | Sat 16

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green. Producers: Tim White, Trevor White, Will Smith. Screenwriter: Zach Baylin. Cast: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn, Jon Bernthal.

Country: USA


SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades): Jacques Audiard ventures into new territory with a vibrant take on love and Paris, as four characters cross amorous paths in the modern city.

Thur 14 | Fri 15

Director: Jacques Audiard. Producers: Jacques Audiard, Valérie Schermann. Screenwriters: Jacques Audiard, Céline Sciamma, Léa Mysius. Cast: Noémie Merlant, Lucie Zhang, Makita Samba, Jehnny Beth

Country: France


Neptune Frost: The directorial debut of poet-musician Saul Williams and actor-playwright Anisia Uzeyman is an exhilarating anti-capitalist sci-fi musical entirely shot in Rwanda.

Sat 16 | Sun 17

Directors: Saul Williams, Anisia Uzeyman. Producers: Ezra Miller, Dave Guenette, Maria Judice. Cast: Cheryl Isheja, Bertrand ‘Kaya Free’ Ninteretse, Eliane Umuhire.

Countries: USA, Rwanda


LFF AWARDS

OFFICIAL COMPETITION NOMINEE
The Best Film Award recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking.

Lingui, the Sacred Bonds (Lingui, les liens sacrés): Following his international success with A Screaming Man, Daratt and Abouna, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s powerful new drama once again celebrates the heroic individualism of ordinary people.

Mon 11 | Tue 12 | Sun 17

Director-Screenwriter: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. Producer: Florence Stern. Cast: Achouackh Abakar Souleymane, Rihane Khalil Alio, Youssouf Djaoro.

Countries: Chad, France, Germany, Belgium


DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION NOMINEE
The Grierson Award recognises feature-length documentaries with integrity, originality and social or cultural significance.

Faya Dayi: Jessica Beshir’s bewitching film is a fascinating portrait of the city of Harar and the intimate rituals of Ethiopia’s most lucrative produce, khat.

Sat 9 | Sun 10

Director-Producer-Screenwriter: Jessica Beshir

Countries: Ethiopia, USA, Qatar


SHORT FILM COMPETITION
The Short Film Award recognises short-form works with a unique cinematic voice and a confident handling of chosen theme and content..

6-17 Oct: Watch on BFI Player for Free

Fantasma Neon: An all-singing, all-dancing musical fantasy set in the busy urban world of Brazil’s takeaway food delivery bike community.

Director-Screenwriter: Leonardo Martinelli. Producers: Ayssa Yamaguti Norek, Rafael Teixeira, Leonardo Martinelli. Country: Brazil

Femme: In a tense late-night journey, Jordan encounters a drug-dealer in a dangerous den populated by a gang of men and stifling with toxic masculinity. (This film contains scenes of drug use and strong violence.)

Directors-Screenwriters: Sam H Freeman, Ng Choon Ping. Producers: Sam Ritzenberg, Hayley Williams, Rienkje Attoh. Country: UK

For Love: In this beautiful drama, a couple battle for a future where they can find a home and freedom that is not determined by where they’re from.

Director-Screenwriter: Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor. Producer: Emily Morgan. Country: UK

Precious Hair & Beauty: With observant commentary on the changing landscape of London communities, this is a witty and energetic snapshot of an odd day at a Black hair dressers.

Director-Screenwriter: John Ogunmuyiwa. Producers: Sophia Gibber, Tony Longe, Lene Bausager. Country: UK


Immersive Art and XR CompetitioN
The Best Immersive Art and XR Award recognises the most innovative work from artists and creators who are boldly exploring the intersection of art, film and extended reality to fully immerse audiences in the moment.

(All part of the EXPANDED Strand: Step into a new dimension of storytelling with Immersive Art and Extended reality.)

6-17 Oct, 11am-9pm. Book a slot at 26 Leake Street, London SE1 7NN.

Container: This immersive film project makes us aware of how closely modern forms of economic enslavement compare with earlier forms that ‘civilised’ society claims to have cast aside.

Lead Artists: Meghna Singh, Simon Wood. Country: South Africa

Noah’s Raft: Acclaimed Nigerian filmmaker Joel Kachi Benson’s VR documentary shows how one person with a vision can transform a whole community by means of education.

Lead Artists: Joel Kachi Benson & Tal Michael Haring. Country: Nigeria.

Virtually There: Leon Oldstrong’s first VR film shines a light on a violent knife crime from multiple perspectives in an attempt to empathise with all parties involved.

Lead Artist: Leon Oldstrong. Production Company: Solaris2 Media. Country: UK


STRANDS

LOVE: Sweet, passionate, tough – love is a complex and many-splendoured thing.

Bantú Mama: A French-Cameroonian woman running from a drug deal gone wrong in the Dominican Republic finds shelter with three young siblings in this striking, lyrical film.

Sat 9 | Sun 10

Director: Ivan Herrera. Producers: Ivan Herrera, Clarisse Albrecht. Screenwriters: Clarisse Albrecht, Ivan Herrera. Cast: Clarisse Albrecht, Scarlet Reyes, Euris Javiel

Country: Dominican Republic

The Gravedigger’s Wife: With his deceptively simple but heartfelt feature debut, director Khadar Ahmed follows a man as he desperately tries to seek help for his ailing wife.

Fri 15 | Sat 16

Director-Screenwriter: Khadar Ayderus Ahmed. Producers: Misha Jaari, Thanassis Karathanos, Stéphane Parthenay. Cast: Omar Abdi, Yasmin Warsame, Khadar Abdoul-Aziz Ibrahim.

Countries: Finland, France, Germany

When a Farm Goes Aflame: This captivating, intimate and contemplative documentary that takes us from Denmark to Nigeria where is a superb and worthy continuation from his first feature a Portrait of a Lonely Farmer.

Wed 6 | Fri 8

Director: Jide Tom Akinleminu. Producer: Florian Schewe.

Country: Germany


DEBATE: Riveting films that amplify, scrutinise, argue and surprise.

All These Sons: The second collaboration from Academy Award-nominees Bing Liu and Joshua Altman is an urgent document of two community groups in Chicago that empower young Black men.

Tue 12 | Wed 13

Directors: Bing Liu, Joshua Altman. Producers: Zak Piper, Kelsey Carr, Bing Liu, Joshua Altman.

Country: USA

ear for eye: At times furious, joyous and moving, debbie tucker green’s adaptation of her acclaimed play on racial injustice in the UK and USA is nothing short of mesmerising.

Sat 16 | Sun 17

Director-Screenwriter: debbie tucker green. Producer: Fiona Lamptey. Cast: Lashana Lynch, Carmen Munroe, Tosin Cole

Country: UK

The Neutral Ground: In this bitingly satirical and deeply personal documentary, CJ Hunt traces the troubled history of Confederate monuments in America.

Thu 14 | Fri 15

Director: CJ Hunt. Producer: Darcy McKinnon. Screenwriters: CJ Hunt, Jane Geisler, James Hamilton

Country: USA


LAUGH: From mega LOLZ through romcom to dry and understated – humour in all its forms.

Queen of Glory: In Nana Mensah’s self-assured and charming comedy, a Ghanaian-American woman’s life is thrown into disarray when she inherits her mother’s Christian bookshop.

Sat 9 | Sun 10

Director-Screenwriter: Nana Mensah. Cast: Nana Mensah, Meeko Gattuso, Oberon K A Adjepong.

Country: USA


DARE: In-your-face and arresting – stories that take you out of your comfort zone.

La Mif: A raw, in-your-face drama that offers a glimpse of life within a residential care home for at-risk teenage girls.

Sun 10 | Mon 11

Director-Producer-Screenwriter: Fred Baillif. Cast: Claudia Grob, Amélie Tonsi, Anaïs Uldry, Amandine Golay, Kassia Da Costa, Joyce Ndayisenga, Charlie Areddy, Sara Tulu.

Country: Switzerland


THRILL: Nerve-shredders that will get your adrenalin pumping and keep you on the edge of your seat.

Boiling Point: An emotionally scarred London chef struggles to keep it together in this formally extraordinary and beautifully acted single-take thriller.

Mon 11 | Tue 12 | Sun 17

Director: Philip Barantini. Producers: Bart Ruspoli, Hester Ruoff. Screenwriters: Philip Barantini, James Cummings. Cast: Stephen Graham, Vinette Robinson, Jason Flemyng.

Country: UK


CULT: From the mind-altering and unclassifiable to fantasy, sci-fi and horror.

Juju Stories: Three Nigerian filmmakers come together for a thrilling portmanteau film that presents an alternative Lagos through the modern interpretation of folk tales.

Fri 15 | Sat 16

Directors-Screenwriters: Abba T Makama, C J ‘Fiery’ Obasi, Michael Omonua. Producer: Oge Obasi. Cast: Paul Utomi, Don Ekwuazi, Nengi Adoki

Countries: Nigeria, France


JOURNEY: Whether it’s the voyage or the destination, these films transport you and shift your perspective.

Citizen Ashe: The ultimate origin story, Arthur Ashe was not only a pioneer within the world of tennis but a revolutionary social activist for many global causes.

Sun 10 | Mon 11

Directors: Rex Miller, Sam Pollard. Producers: Beth Hubbard, Anna Godas, Rex Miller, Steven Cantor, Jamie Schutz, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe

Country: UK, USA

Freda: Gessica Généus’s debut follows a strong-willed young woman struggling to decide whether to leave the violence of Haiti for the chance of a better life.

Wed 6 | Thu 7

Director: Gessica Généus. Producer: Jean-Marie Gigon. Cast: Néhémie Bastien, Jean Jean, Fabiola Rémy

Country: Haiti

Passing: In Rebecca Hall’s exquisite directorial debut, two childhood friends are reunited as adults in 1920s New York, with one of them now passing as white.

Sun 10 | Tue 12

Director-Screenwriter: Rebecca Hall. Producers: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Margot Hand, Rebecca Hall. Cast: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland.

Country: USA


CREATE: Celebrating artistic expression and electricity of the creative process.

8 Bar – The Evolution of Grime: This intriguing and expansive documentary looks at the complex history and impact of Grime, tracking its enormous influence and resonance on modern UK music and culture.

Sat 16 | Sun 17

Director: Ewen Spencer. Producers: Aleksandra Bilic, Jamie Clark, David Upshal

Country: UK

We (Nous): An inquisitive and deeply revealing journey on the tracks of the RER B, a suburban train crossing Paris from North to South.

Sat 9 | Sun 10

Director: Alice Diop. Producers: Sophie Salbot. Cast: Ismael Soumaïla Sissoko, Bamba Sibi, N’Deye Sighane Diop

Country: France


EXPERIMENTA: Films by artists that revolutionise and reshape our vision of cinema.

Lago Gatún: Kevin Jerome Everson’s latest feature-length film, shot in black-and-white 16mm, is a minimalist odyssey that traverses the Panama Canal, between the Earth’s two great oceans, where its American engineers imposed US segregation laws on the canal’s Jamaican migrant workforce.

Fri 15

Director: Kevin Jerome Everson. Producers: Madeleine Molyneaux, Kevin Jerome Everson.

Country: USA

Screening with:

The I and S of Lives: In Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington DC, the camera follows a lone skater’s graceful moves. His clothes match the colours of the mural he skates on.

Director: Kevin Jerome Everson. Producers: Kevin Jerome Everson, Madeleine Molyneaux

Country: USA

Memorials of Meaning (Short Film Collection)

Mudança: A dreamlike territory of imagery sensations in music, painting, poetry, and dance – inspired by the people of the Bijagó archipelago in Guinea-Bissau – speak of revolution.

Sun 17 (Also watch this short for free on the BFI Player)

Director-Producer-Screenwriter: Welket Bungué

Country: Portugal, Guinea Bissau, Germany


FAMILY: Films for the young… and young at heart.

Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences (Short Film Collection)

The Wonderful Story of Aisha, Ali and Flipflopi the Multicoloured Dhow Boat: Aisha and Ali must decide what to do about abandoned plastic, in this film from Kenya that deals with a global problem.

Sun 17

Director: Kwame Nyong’o. Producers: Wanzilu Maingi, Dipesh Pabari. Screenwriter: John Sibi-Okumu

Country: Kenya


TREASURES: Revived and restored from the world’s archives.

Sambizanga: A riveting neorealist testimony to Angola’s anti-colonialist struggle, not screened there until after independence, this is an unforgettable revolutionary film. Set in the weeks leading up to the guerrilla war for independence, Sambizanga focuses on the plight of a young couple.

Tue 12 | The 14

Director: Sarah Maldoror. Screenwriters: Mario de Andrade, Sarah Maldoror. Cast: Elisa Andrade, Domingos de Oliveira, Jean M’Vondo.

Country: Angola-France

Four short films in From the Caribbean to West Africa: Edric Connor’s Travelogues

Jamaica – Third Test
Caribbean Honeymoon No.1
Caribbean Honeymoon No.2
Bound for Lagos


EXPANDED: Step into a new dimension of storytelling with Immersive Art and Extended reality.

See Immersive Art and XR Competition section


SHORTS: Small but perfectly formed.

6-17 Oct: Watch for free on BFI Player

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.

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

BFI Flare Film Festival 2015 | Afrocentric films

A selection of afrocentric films at this years BFI Flare Film Festival which opens on Thursday. Here are our selections for the festival.

Including Kenyan film, ‘Stories of Our Lives‘ which gets its UK Premiere at the festival but sadly is already sold out.

Mo’Nique returns to the big screen in her first film since winning an Oscar for ‘Precious‘ in ‘Blackbird‘ a story based on Larry Duplechan’s Novel of the same title, with the films screeplay written by Brit Rikki Beadle-Blair.

The Starlite, one of New York’s pre-Stonewall gay bars – a black-owned and operated influential dance club, is celebrated in, ‘We Came To Sweat‘. Some of the disco sound originated at the bar, which is now under the threat of redevelopment.

Plus there’s another chance to see French film, ‘Girlhood‘ and the hottest black film in years, ‘Dear White People‘ as with its London Film Festival outing last year the tickets sold out within an hour.

The festival closes with the documentary, ‘Out To Win‘, looking at the experience of LGBT sportspeople working in professional sport, with contributions from Brit John Amaechi, and remembering Justin Fashanu.


19-29 March 2015.
50 feature films and over 100 short films. BFI Southbank.


Download the film Schedule here.


FEATURE FILMS


Blackbird

A gay boy in a deeply conservative Southern US town deals with the traumas of religious prejudice and coming out.

blackbird-002“Based on a 1986 Larry Duplechan novel, transposed to a Mississippi small town. Randy, a young black man, is wrestling unsuccessfully with his burgeoning sexuality. A member of his church choir, he has a tight cohort of school friends who seem more aware than he is of his sexuality. Meanwhile, at home Randy has to contend with his deeply religious mother (actress Mo’Nique from Precious), grief-stricken since his sister was mysteriously abducted. An unexpected encounter with a young actor and filmmaker changes things for Randy, but nothing runs that smoothly in this ripely melodramatic, emotionally engaging coming-of-age story, replete with plenty of sharp one-liners.” BFI

  • Mar 21, 2015 8:45 PM
  • Mar 23, 2015 1:50 PM

Girlhood Bande de filles

Céline Sciamma’s triumphant film explores of a young girl’s search for identity in the underprivileged suburbs of Paris.

girlhood-002“Céline Sciamma (Waterlilies and Tomboy) returns with this glorious coming of age drama about a quartet of young black girls growing up in the working class outskirts of Paris. Marieme is the eldest daughter of a single mother who works nights, leaving her with full responsibility for her younger sisters and an older brother so authoritarian that his behaviour borders on the abusive. At first a lonely, solitary figure among the young girls on her estate, Marieme is soon adopted by a sassy group, and the quartet find strength and power together in a community where rough boys dominate. Less overtly ‘L, B, or T’ than her previous work, Sciamma’s Girlhood is a nuanced examination of female friendship, gender dynamics and identity. Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ provides the backdrop to one of the year’s most electrifying, joyful scenes: ‘eye to eye, so alive, we’re like diamonds in the sky…’.” BFI

  • Mar 23, 2015 8:40 PM
  • Mar 24, 2015 3:50 PM

Dear White People

The diversification of an all-black residence hall forces a group of African-American university students to take a stand.

dear-white-people-002“Sam White is frustrated. Everywhere she looks, she finds racial inequality and coded aggression at her elite university. Her radio show is rubbing people up the wrong way and her ex-boyfriend, the tormented son of the school’s dean, is her opponent in a student election campaign she thinks she will never win. When she does, Sam is forced to face the true complexity of the racial politics she espouses; a complexity that Lionel Higgins, a gay writer casually ridiculed by the black student union Sam runs, is already facing.” BFI

  • Mar 24, 2015 8:40 PM
  • Mar 25, 2015 3:50 PM
  • Mar 28, 2015 1:30 PM

We Came to Sweat

Over 50 years of gay, black American heritage is at stake when this pre-Stonewall Brooklyn bar is threatened by redevelopment.

we-came-to-sweat-001“When a Brooklyn landmark, the black-owned and operated Starlite, is threatened with eviction by new landlords, its 50-year history as a pre-Stonewall gay bar and dance club is in peril. This film is a history of the club, its patrons and its staff, many of whom are also deserving of national treasure status. It’s not just in London that gentrification and rising property prices tempt landlords to sell to developers in the hope of making a fast buck. The community rallies around in protest, but is it enough? The history of the Starlite and its importance to the black gay community as a privileged space is underlined by the rich testimony from elders and family members for whom the venue is simply a part of their life. With a rich soundtrack of great music, reflecting the club’s influence on the creation of disco, the film is a warning to anyone who thinks their favourite gay bar is a permanent fixture.” BFI

  • Mar 24, 2015 8:50 PM
  • Mar 26, 2015 6:10 PM
  • Mar 27, 2015 6:10 PM

Stories of Our Lives

A visually stunning and tenderly wrought collection of stories about LGBTI lives in Kenya.

stories-of-our-lives-003“Two young women are in trouble for their ‘peculiar’ relationship; a farm hand is tormented when his crush begins courting a woman; a young DVD seller is intoxicated by the smoke and sounds of a clandestine gay bar. These are among the tales featured in this beautifully rendered collection of narratives from LGBTI Kenyans. Stories of Our Lives started out as an archival project by the multi-disciplinary Nest Collective, and the testimonies given have been tenderly wrought into funny, endearing – and at times heartbreaking – sketches. The quality and imagination achieved transcends the predictable but nevertheless disappointing response from the Kenyan government; after its Toronto premiere Stories of Our Lives was banned in the country for promoting homosexuality. That many of the actors are not themselves LGBT but were willing to participate at great personal risk is testament to the socially incisive and life-affirming vision of the project.” BFI

  • Mar 26, 2015 8:40 PM
  • Mar 28, 2015 11:45 AM
  • Mar 29, 2015 4:10 PM

Out to Win

Inspirational documentary charting the history of homosexuality in competitive sport, with interviewees including Martina Navratilova and Jason Collins.

out-to-win-JasonCollins1“In the competitive world of professional sports, homosexuality continues to be a big issue. So big that it seems no-one wants to talk about it. With so many athletes afraid that coming out will mark the end of their careers, there is a dearth of proud LGBT sportspeople representing the community and empowering future generations. Thankfully, some brave individuals have spoken out about their sexuality and paved the way for change. Told through the words of these pioneers, Malcolm Ingram’s inspirational documentary charts the history of homosexuality in sport, highlighting the triumphs, and indeed the tragedies, of those fearless forerunners, and profiling the victories of present day stars” BFI

  • Mar 29, 2015 6:00 PM
  • Mar 29, 2015 8:45 PM

SHORT FILMS


The View from Here | Mar 20, 2015 4:00 PM | Mar 21, 2015 11:50 AM
Whether you’re in your teens or well into adulthood, coming out can be one of the most terrifying (and perhaps most thrilling) things you’ll ever have to do, as demonstrated in this poignant collection of short films.

The Return  La Retour – A teenage boy must make sense of the world around him after he learns the truth about his older brother.

Director Yohann Kouam | France 2013 | 22 mins

Pleasures and Perils of Desire | Mar 23, 2015 4:00 PM
A rich haul of shorts about yearning for, finding, and remembering encounters of a sexual nature.

Caged  Uitgesproken – A group of friends hanging out at a sports ground discover one of their number is gay, but it seems he might not be the only one.

Director Lazlo Tonk, Dylan Tonk | The Netherlands 2013 | 13 mins

T/Here I Am | Mar 22, 2015 1:50 PM  | Mar 25, 2015 8:45 PM
Take up space, stand your ground, have no fear of not fitting in – these shorts explore what it means to be a queer body in a strange world.

Black Is Blue – A young homeless transman works as a security guard and is called to shut down a party his ex was rather enjoying.

Director Cheryl Dunye | USA 2014 | 16 mins

Dark Rivers of the Heart | Mar 27, 2015 3:50 PM | Mar 28, 2015 1:20 PM
Sinister desires become violent actions in this often disturbing programme of shorts.

Beyond Plain Sight – A seemingly charming young man hides a very dark and disturbing secret in his South London flat.

Director Joseph a. Adesunloye | UK 2014 | 13 mins

Fragile Things | Mar 29, 2015 12:45 PM
A collection of UK short films – From first encounters to break-ups, via autograph hunters, hand-jobs and a vision of Christ, this selection of homegrown narrative shorts explores infatuation and desire.

When Fragile Things Break – An explosive drama about dreams and hearts breaking.

Director Shanika Warren-Markland | UK 2013 | 7 mins

Mingmong – Annalise and Jude collect autographs together but Annalise’s mind is on other things.

Director Richard Turley | UK 2013 | 12 mins

Followers – Lynn has a vision of the face of Christ on a pair of swimming trunks.

Director Tim Marshall | UK 2014 | 12 mins