A Round-up of 2021's BFI Flare LGBTQ+ Festival

01 Apr 2021 BY Maria Cabrera in Film Features

4 mins

BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival came back on 17 March 28 March with another wonderful online programme. As always, the festival offeredsome of the most anticipated titles made by or about LGBTQ+ people last year,bringing together much-needed uplifting stories and engaging documentaryfeatures about some of today's most prevalent topics. It was a real treat forour curation team to dig into Flare's diverse film selection and here we share someof our standouts. 

Maria - Curation Officer 


Age Recommendation: 16+

This documentary celebrates the US activists that fought against medical injustice and the labelling of homosexuality as a mental illness. Using rare archive footage and interviews with activist pioneers, the film explores this damaging perception of homosexuality and the overwhelming impact it had on queer people, from being isolated from society to conversion therapy. 

Hugely engaging, while also being a detailed account on how entrenched homophobia is within many institutions, this uplifting documentary is also a reminder that change is possible. The interviews with queer elders are particularly poignant and leave us with a sense of optimism as they recall the various creative protest strategies they took within their fields and the solidarity they built amongst each other. The film does not cover everything, but it is noteworthy in its acknowledgement of what there is still to fight for, such as transgender and non-binary rights. This is a valuable and accessible film for young people that digs deeper into the source of homophobia and what can be done to eradicate it from our society. 

Colors of Tobi

Age recommendation: 14+

This observational and intimate Hungarian documentary focuses on teenage Tobi and their parents as they go through the process of transitioning and coming out as non-binary. The film also follows Tobi as they grow up and gain more confidence in themselves and how this changes the relationships with those closest to them. 

This is an incredibly gentle film that clearly has a lot of care for its subjects and depicts very intimate, and sometimes painful, moments between the family. At the heart of the story is the relationship between Tobi and their supportive mother, and throughout the film's duration we see how their relationship grows, crumbles and heals. Filmmaker Alexa Bakony has created a beautifully nuanced and realistic story that may be a breath of fresh air for other young people on a similar path to Tobi's. 

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson

Age recommendation: 16+

This psychological drama follows Tunde, a college student who is fatally shot by a police officer, just moments after he comes out as gay to his parents. The next day he realises that instead of dying he is trapped in a limbo-like state where he has relive his final moment repeatedly. 

The film aims to explore the complexities of being a queer Black cis young man in America. It does so by placing Tunde as a character who is wealthy and from an affluent family, therefore placing his Blackness and queerness at the forefront for discussion and to highlight that regardless of his status, he is not exempt from experiencing racism and violence. The film is at it is most interesting when Tunde reflects on his experiences and the film uses prose and creative cinematography to depict his inner turmoil. However, it would have been great for the characters to have more space to develop and breath as they can be slightly overshadowed by the film's highly stylised version of America.

Joe Ursell - Curation Manager


Age recommendation: 14+

This small-scale but accessible American indie tells the story of Troy, a troubled, ruggedly masculine father recently separated from his conservative wife, and at odds with his former partner over the wellbeing of Joe, their increasingly depressed child who has recently come out as trans. One night, Troy and Joe go on the run together on horseback, heading into the harsh beauty of the Montana wilderness, leaving a local police chief in pursuit who mistakenly believes they are searching for a father and daughter. Through flashbacks we learn more about the family dynamic, how Troy's response to Joe's coming out journey differs from his wife's, and the impact this has on Joe.

Set amidst a spectacularly scenic backdrop, Cowboys is a thoughtful and nuanced coming of age story, with much to say around gender tropes and stereotypical characterisations. Above all it is a moving portrait of a complex father son relationship, even if one wishes a little more attention were paid to exploring the experiences and emotions of Joe, as well as those of his parents. 

Maria Cabrera news author image

Maria Cabrera , Curation Officer

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