The BFI Flare festival returns to take over the BFI Southbank for the next twelve days, offering an impressive array of LGBTQ+ movies and an exciting line-up of guest speakers. Among the retrospective screenings is a very special showing of Merchant/Ivory’s 1987 film, Maurice, based on the E.M. Forester novel, with BFI Fellow Hugh Grant introducing the film alongside his co-star James Wilby.
Rupert Everett will also be on hand to present his directorial debut, the Oscar Wilde drama The Happy Prince, which receives its UK premiere. Screening three times in Flare, the film is a solemn look Wilde’s final days around Europe, penniless and facing prejudice at every corner. Everett, who hasn’t really found a role to test his considerable powers in years, shines as the author and wit persecuted for his sexuality.
Also arriving at the festival will be Robin Campillo, the French director behind 120 BPM, which plays at Flare just before its UK release. One of the best movies of the past twelve months, 120 BPM is set in the late-1980s / early 1990s, at the height of the AIDS crisis, and finds real poetry and power in this tale of a group of activists lobbying pharmaceutical companies to concentrate their energies towards finding a cure.
Alongside this, there’s also a fascinating look at the Cinema of AIDS, a lecture given by Flare programmer Brian Robinson on how movies and television tackled the disease. Films like Parting Glances, Philadelphia and Jeffrey will all come under consideration, allowing a chance to reflect on how different filmmakers examined a crisis that for so long was considered taboo.
There’s also the return of Second Chance Sunday, offering another chance to see the best queer movies of the past year including Francis Lee’s festival hit God’s Own Country, tennis tale Battle of the Sexes and the sumptuous Oscar-winner Call Me By Your Name. If these all show it’s been a positive year for LGBTQ+ cinema, then this year’s Flare also offers hope for 2018.
Among the most exciting films is Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon, a teenage gay coming-of-age love story starring Nick Robinson. It’s the first time a major Hollywood studio – in this case Twentieth Century Fox – has featured a gay adolescent character in the lead, which is surely a watershed moment. Don’t miss your chance to check out this and the other fine films on show.
BFI Flare London LGBTQ+ Film Festival runs from 21 March to 1 April at the BFI Southbank. Find out more.
1. Still from 120 BPM.