30 Big Gay Years!

Jack Leger reports on this month’s BFI FLARE: LONDON LGBT FILM FESTIVAL, celebrating three decades with its strongest line-up yet

The Southbank is going gay once again for 10 days, 16th-27th March, with another terrific selection of the very best of queer cinema. And there will be a lot more than movies, with club nights and events most days. Even if screenings show as sold out, there are always seats: both returns and late-release tickets, plus a whole day of best-of-fest screenings on Easter Sunday. Here’s a brief preview…



The festival kicks off in style on Wed 16th with the world premiere of Russell Tovey’s sexy new drama THE PASS at the Odeon Leicester Square. It follows two young footballers through a decade of sexual posturing, and advance clips feature very little in the way of costumes. Tovey’s hot costars include Arinze Kene (EastEnders) and Nico Mirallegro (Hollyoaks).



MAPPLETHORPE: LOOK AT THE PICTURES (Sat 18th/Mon 21st) documents the iconic photographer’s provocatively homoerotic work. THEO & HUGO (Mon 21st/Wed 23rd) opens in Paris’ notorious naked sex club L’Impacte, then follows two young men on a post-sex odyssey. This year’s centrepiece gala is HOLDING THE MAN (Wed 23rd/Sat 26th), a steamy Aussie drama about the decades-long romance between a theatre buff and a rugby player. And the closing night film is SUMMERTIME (Sat 26th), the acclaimed French romance between two feminists in 1971.



Stories of love and romance include NAZ & MAALIK (Thu 17th/Fri 18th/Sat 19th), a pointed but enjoyably witty New York tale of two gay teen Muslims. The sharply observant AKRON (Sat 19th/Sun 20th) is a relaxed gay romance with a dark dramatic undercurrent. The gorgeous British drama DEPARTURE (Thu 24th/Fri 25th) stars Juliet Stevenson as a woman so caught up in her own issues that she doesn’t notice her teen son (The Theory of Everything’s Alex Lawther) grappling with his sexuality. And award-winning Venezuelan drama, FROM AFAR (Sat 19th/Sun 20th/Mon 21st) is the challenging story of a middle-aged man and a 17-year-old rentboy.



Stories of sex and identity include SEED MONEY (Sun 20th/Mon 21st), a spicy documentary about gay porn pioneers Falcon Studios. In the twisted, artful NASTY BABY (Tue 22nd/Wed 23rd), Kristen Wiig plays a woman who wants to get pregnant with her gay best friend, but nothing goes as planned. The multistrand drama BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING (Tue 22nd/Thu 24th) artfully explores sex and love through the eyes of a range of urban artists over one long night. And from Canada, CLOSET MONSTER (Thu 24th/Fri 25th) is a strikingly introspective look at a young boy struggling to accept or even understand his sexuality.



Stories of art and politics include KA BODYSCAPES (Thu 17th/Fri 18th/Sat 19th), about three young people trying to escape the marginalisation of gay life in India. JASON AND SHIRLEY (Thu 17th/Sat 19th/Sun 20th) goes behind the scenes of the 1967 classic Portrait Of Jason, about a gay hustler-musician. And INSIDE THE CHINESE CLOSET (Fri 18th/Sat 19th/Sun 20th) explores the shifting attitudes toward homosexuality in a fiercely traditional country.



There are 12 programmes of short films that are all worth seeing on a big screen, including QX cover boy Jake Graf’s new drama DAWN and the gay zombie horror SAUNA THE DEAD, filmed at Chariots. You can also catch the best films of 2015 with an appreciative queer audience. And on the final day of the festival, Easter Sunday, a whole day of second-chance screenings is priced at just £8 per seat!


• Full programme and ticketing info: bfi.org.uk/flare



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