A Round-up of 2019's BFI Flare LGBTQ+ Festival

09 Apr 2019 in Film Features

5 mins
GiantLittleOnes2
GiantLittleOnes2

BFI Flare, the biggest LGBTQ+ focused film festival in Europe, took place from the 21 - 31 March, providing an exciting look at the current landscape of queer cinema. This year's edition was as eclectic as ever and included a great number of films that explored the experiences of young people. To coincide with Into Film Reporters' round-up on the festival here are our curation team's highlights. 

Joe - Curation Manager

We The Animals

With hints of MoonlightThe Florida Project and Beasts of the Southern Wild, We The Animals is a very special film indeed. Based on a celebrated novel and beautifully shot, it tells the story of three young brothers growing up in a rural area of New York amidst a very volatile and turbulent family lifestyle. As the two older boys grow into versions of their loving, but unpredictable father, the boy's mother tries to keep the youngest, Jonah, safely ensconced at home. A more sensitive and conscientious child than his older siblings, Jonah increasingly becomes drawn into his own imaginary world. Told from Jonah's point-of-view and drawing on traditions of magical realism, the film explores contemporary themes around coming-of-age, poverty, sexual identity, modern masculinity with acute sensitivity, and deserves to find a wide audience when it is released later this Spring.

Socrates

Following the sudden death of his mother, 15 year-old Socrates is forced to fend for himself in São Paulo. With no income to pay for his apartment, Socrates soon finds himself moving toward increasingly desperate measures to try and get together enough money just to function. Landing a low-key construction job, Socrates meets a troubled young man and following an initially violent relationship, the two form an unlikely bond, further complicating his harsh situation. This debut film was co-written, produced and directed by young people in low-income communities in Brazil, supported by the charity UNICEF. It is a stunningly assured, sophisticated film, that eschews cliché and contains an extraordinary central performance from actor Chrisitan Malheiros. Often brutal and tough to watch, Socrates is nevertheless invested in real humanity and is a remarkably moving look at grief and identity, amongst other themes.

The Way Things Are (Shorts Programme)

As well as the wide variety of features, one of the great things about film festivals is the opportunity to see work from up-and-coming filmmakers mostly working in short film. The Way Things Are focused specifically on UK shorts and home-grown talent, offering up a hugely exciting and varied collection telling stories of life in contemporary Britain. Among the highlights were Listen, in which a group of trans children discuss what it means for them to live an authentic life; Batty Boy tells the story of a young black gay man searching for a place of acceptance, and Anemone focuses on a second-generation teen searching for a way to express their non-binary identity. As well as these, Siri Rodnes followed up her fabulous short Take Your Partners with None of the Above, a remarkably insightful account of a young woman running into trouble after choosing to document her life on her personal vlog. The collection provided further proof of the extraordinary depth of young filmmaking talent in the UK.

Noor - Curation Officer

Vita & Virginia

This year's Flare opened with Vita & Virginia, a highly modernised historical period drama. This glossy, electro-fuelled feature recounts the love affair between iconic English writer Virginia Woolf and popular author Vita Sackville-West in 1920s London. Against the backdrop of literary creation, including Woolf's best-seller Orlando, the film explores issues of queer identity and mental health through two intriguing and utterly opposite characters, passionate, charming Vita and angst-ridden Virginia. As we were celebrating female talent both in front of and behind the camera earlier this month, women-fronted Vita & Virginia by director Chanya Button based on a play by Eileen Atkins is a welcomed addition to the F-rating and will hit UK screens on July 12th.

Giant Little Ones

Following on from its widely positive critical response in Toronto last September, Canadian feature Giant Little Ones is also one of the Into Film Curation team's top festival picks. Franky and Ballas, two popular athletic students, see their long-time friendship compromised after an unexpected encounter between them shakes their certainties. Built as an exploration of confused teen sexuality, this smart teen movie avoids the clichés of the coming-out narrative subgenre, praising self-acceptance and the fluidity of each individual's identity. It also conveys an inclusive message of anti-bullying and the importance of having a solid support system.

Night Comes On

This drama tells the story of Angel, an African American 17-year-old, during the few days following her release from juvenile detention. With barely any post-carceral support, she reaches out to Abby, her 10-year-old sister who is the only one to know where their father lives. The two girls' day-trip evolves into an emotional journey in which each of them attempts to navigate feelings of loneliness, rage, and lost family ties all of which are related to the unspeakable events which have torn their family apart years ago and have propelled both of them into the foster care system. A sharp and tender portrayal of the sisters' relationship through two magnetic performances, Night Comes On is a character-driven atmospheric directorial debut which can open discussions about race, social-economic classes, child safety and youth caring systems, as well as loss and mental health.

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