BFI Flare 2019: the LGBTQ film-fest is back

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This month catch over 50 films and 80 shorts, as well as club nights and queer quizzes at the Southbank


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It was pretty darn good last year, the buzz in the Southbank tangible on opening night.

So this year’s 33rd – yes, really! – edition of BFI Flare, one of the world’s long-standing LGBTQ+ film festies, comes with the thwack of expectation.

But a glance at the programme doesn’t disappoint: over 50 features, more than 80 shorts and a range of one-offs, big names and proper club nights.

The festival opens with Chanya Button’s much-hyped period drama Vita and Virginia, charting the passionate relationship between Virginia Woolf and enigmatic aristo Vita Sackville-West, starring Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton respectively.

Fast forward to the Closing Night Gala and you’ll catch the European premiere of Justin Kelly’s JT Leroy. As for in between? Highlights include Marco Berger’s The Blond One, about a bromance between two young men, and Mapplethorpe, which stars Matt Smith as the iconic photographer.

Then there’s Tell It To The Bees, adapted from Fiona Shaw’s novel, starring Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger as two women who fall in love in 1950s Scotland, while the classic high school coming-out story gets a smart revamp in Giant Little Ones, featuring Kyle MacLachlan.

And brainiacs shouldn’t miss the Big Gay Film Quiz, inviting you to put your queer knowledge to the test; while more sybaritic night owls may prefer the Flare Club Nights (Fri 22nd, Sat 23rd, Fri 29th, Sat 30th and Sun 31st) at BFI Southbank’s Bar & Kitchen. DJs include The Batty Mama, Club Kali, Tony Dunne and Unskinny Bop.

In short? Burning brightly, once again.

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BFI Flare, 21st-31st March, Southbank Centre SE1. Tickets: bfi.org.uk/flare

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