Check out DIVA’s top picks of this year’s line up
BY GEORGIA DIMDORE-MILES, IMAGE BY BFI FLARE
BFI Flare, London’s annual LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, has just released its highly anticipated 2023 programme. With a variety of feature films, premieres, DJ nights, and virtual reality exhibitions, there’s something for every cinema lover. The festival will take place from March 15 to 26 at the BFI Southbank, with the added option of streaming from the comfort of your own home via the BFI Player.
According to the BFI, Flare is “a joyous flash in the dark, ephemeral but electric, an immersive alternate reality to see a world in which our histories and legacies are truly valued.”
Here are DIVA’s top picks from the festival, our absolute must-sees. Some films explore new territory: unusual, interesting, groundbreaking stories. Some tread paths forged by filmmakers before, yet in unique and subversive ways. All of them tell truths about the queer experience in diverse and visible manners. First up:
The Stroll. This is the story of trans women of colour through the 90s in New York’s Meatpacking District. From directors Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker, the film weaves intimate narration from Kristen and interviews with the women who spent their lives on the streets with powerful archive footage. It is a story told by those long overdue a voice, exploring their community, sex work, trans rights and what it means to fight for survival in the face of the brutality of police and the public.
The Stroll is opening the festival on 15 March, so keep your eyes peeled for tickets which will sell out fast!
Who I Am Not. Selected as the centrepiece presentation of the festival, Who I Am Not is a groundbreaking documentary from director Tünde Skovrán following the lives of two intersex South Africans. Beauty queen Sharon-Rose Khumalo and intersex rights activist Dimakatso Sebidi invite the audience into the most private aspects of their worlds, where medical, societal and personal challenges are faced. The film is also about personal struggles that can be alleviated by the solidarity of community. This is certainly one to watch, particularly considering that the lives of intersex people have scarcely been given a platform by the film industry. Screening 21 and 22 March
The Fabulous Ones is a joyful docudrama following a group of older trans women who reunite when a letter emerges with the last wishes of a dearly departed friend, Antonia. They come together in a villa, sharing nostalgic memories and tributes to their lost loved one. The film is equal parts moving and euphoric. Screening 20 and 22 March.
If you’re into lesbian love triangles and teen longing then The Dream Songs is your perfect Flare pick. With the backdrop of South Korea’s golden capital, Seoul, it’s a hazy treat of aesthetic enchantment. Screening 17 and 18 March.
Continuing the contribution from Korean filmmakers comes Jieun Banpark’s Life Unrehearsed, a documentary following the lives of Berlin-dwelling Soohyun Lee and In-sun Kim. The pair, now in their seventies, still have all the rebellious wit and playfulness of when they first met in 1986. Screening 16 and 18 March.
An unlikely setting for a queer love story and an unlikely romantic connection, Polarized, unfolds in a vertical farm. It sees Dalia and Lisa from vastly different worlds bridge the gaping void between them of race, religion and class. Screening 18 March and 19 March.
Finally, Loving Highsmith is an exciting pick for fans of the film Carol, and let’s be honest who isn’t one? From director Eva Vitija, the film explores the darker side of the life of Patricia Highsmith, the 20th century novelist who wrote The Price of Salt (aka Carol), the first lesbian novel that allowed a happy ending to play out for its queer antagonists. Screening 23 and 24 March.
If these films sound up your street, check out the full festival programme on BFI Flare’s website with many more highlights. You can also follow BFI Flare on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on the schedule and how to get tickets to the queerest week in film that London has to offer!
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