Spoiler alert: This year’s programme is full to the brim with queer-tastic content


Get excited, DIVAs! London’s LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, BFI Flare, has just launched its 2022 programme. Spoiler alert: it’s looking fabulous! Taking place from 16-27 March 2022, BFI Flare will be returning to the venue for the first time in three years for its 36th edition, and we can’t wait. And if you’d like to take part from the comfort of your sofa, all films will be available to stream on the BFI Player.

So, without further ado, let’s get started! DIVA’s top pick is Girl Picture, a gorgeous anti-coming-of-age film exploring a snapshot in three girls’ lives. Spearheaded by Finnish director Alli Haapasalo, this beautiful picture explores sexuality, pleasure and longing from the perspective of the teenage gaze. It’ll be opening the BFI Flare Film Festival on 16 March, so keep your eyes peeled for the ticket release. Check out DIVA’s exclusive interview with Alli here.

Girl Picture (Alli Haapasalo)

Next, we have Nico, a commanding film covering self-esteem, body confidence and healing. Narrating the story of Nico, an Iranian-German woman living in Berlin, she experiences a racist attack that leaves her emotionally and physically drained. In the aftermath, she decides to train alongside a karate world champion, refusing to ever be belittled again.

One of our favourite listings is Jacquie Lawrence’s Gateways Grind, a picture that platforms the history of the iconic London-based lesbian bar, The Gateways. Located at 239 King’s Road in Chelsea, London, The Gateways Club was the longest-surviving lesbian venue in the world. Opening in 1931 and legally accruing its status as a member’s club in 1936, it ran until 21 September 1985. Notably, Jacquie was the mastermind behind Different For Girls, starring Rachel Shelley (The L Word) and Victoria Broom (Marcella).

Gateways Grind (Jacquie Lawrence)

If you’d like to learn more about the mother of camp, Esther Newton Made Me Gay is an excellent choice. Penning Mother Camp and My Butch Career: A Memoir, Esther is a vital source on camp studies. If you’ve read Susan Sontag or know anything about camp, you’ll love this one.

For the hyperpop fans out there, CHARLI XCX: ALONE TOGETHER explores the collaboration between Charli and her queer fans across the globe that resulted in the release of her 2020 lockdown album, how I’m feeling now. With Charli’s new album, Crash, due for release on 18 March 2022, this pick couldn’t be more contemporary.

And for the full cinematic experience, BFI Flare is also coordinating an array of talks with notable figures in the filmmaking world. Writer Adam Zmith will be taking viewers on a journey across queer history as part of I Can Only Imagine! Lost Films, Censored Stories and LGBTQIA+ History, and DIVA’s very own intersex columnist, Valentino Vecchietti, will be spearheading the event on Intersex Stories: Activism, Resistance and Being. Sounds fab, right? It doesn’t stop there! The Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves: Queer Women In Music talk will be exploring queer and transgender histories, and the Big Gay Film Quiz will be allowing queer film buffs to go head-to-head in the name of LGBTQI film. Don’t miss it!

Girl Picture (Alli Haapasalo)

Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s Senior Programmer, states: “A recurring theme in BFI Flare 2022 is the rediscovery of forgotten queer histories, and recognition of the LGBTQIA+ trailblazers whose pioneering work has so often gone overlooked. In reflecting in the past, we can better understand the present, appreciating how far we have come, whilst acknowledging how much is still left to do. At the heart of this year’s festival is a glorious celebration of a collective queer history we cannot take for granted”.

Furthermore, Tricia Tuttle, Director of BFI Festivals, reveals: “We’re all chomping at the bit to welcome audiences back to an in-person BFI Flare, our first since 2019, and with the bonus of screenings online for audiences who can’t make it to the venue, wherever they are in the UK. And this year’s programme really does deliver something for every queer audience and cinema fan – rousing personal stories and bold, adventurous filmmaking alike”.

Interested? Read more about the full BFI Flare: London’s LGBTQIA+ Film Festival programme online. Follow BFI Flare on Twitter and Facebook or visit their website here. Ticketing information will be available shortly. To read more about Girl Picture and TRAMPS!, the opening and closing night picks, read our take here. 16-25 year-olds benefit from £5 tickets, so what are you waiting for? Get booking!

DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 


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