When the first lockdown hit last March, the BFI Flare Festival valiantly brought as much of their festival online as was possible at short notice, but had to lose a certain amount of their much anticipated programming. A year on, with online events becoming the norm, the BFI launch their most accessible Flare Festival ever, with 26 features and 38 free shorts shown online. With many new productions halted, Covid has intensified an emphasis on reappraisals of the past. This year's festival follows that trend, featuring numerous untold or rediscovered queer histories, both in the form of narrative and documentary features. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, 2 March at 11:00 GMT; here's our picks from the programme.
Worth seeing alone for one of the final performances of late acting legend Cloris Leachman (who died in January of this year), the international premiere of Jump, Darling tells the story of a drag queen who goes to live with his feisty grandmother in order to figure out his life and save her from the clutches of the local nursing home. With a growing ageing population, and a rise in young people living with grandparents, recent years have seen a rise in films depicting the stories of the elderly (Relic, The Farewell, The Good Liar). Jump, Darling promises to be a moving addition to the offering.
'For most of my life, people tried to make me smaller, they tried to tell me to fit in a box, as a mixed person, as a queer person, as a fat person,' says a woman straight to camera in the trailer for Well Rounded. If you're in search of an uplifting and liberating watch this month, Well Rounded promises a triumphant exploration of fatness, queer identity and race, following 'fat and fierce babes in Canada who are using their creativity to clap back at a diet culture that seeks to shrink marginalised bodies.'
We're intrigued by the sound of this debut Australian feature, which tells the story of a grieving woman, Beth, who stumbles across a portal to the past, and becomes addicted to living in happier times. Time travel allows Beth to revisit both her late mother and a lost teenage love, but will she be able to move on before it's too late?
With so many creative practitioners now combing archives in search of alternative histories, it feels like a wave of untold stories is just beginning. No Ordinary Man is a documentary portrait of jazz musician Billy Tipton, whose gender history as a trans man was only uncovered after his death. Along with archival footage and interview, the film features a range of trans masculine actors playing Tipton.
With an impressive career already behind him as an actor, producer, writer and director for television – most notably as the co-creator of the Chris Rock period sitcom Everybody Hates Chris – Ali LeRoi's time-loop narrative is his debut directorial feature. The Obituary of Tunde Johnson tells the story of a young African American man forced to repeat the day of both his death and his coming out, examining the harsh realities of being black and queer in America.
Thanks BFI for continuing to fuel our appetite for sapphic costume dramas, we're excited to watch this biopic of Moomins creator Tove Jansson. An exploration of Jansson's path to artistic realisation, as well as her bohemian love life (she had a passionate love affair with married theatre director Vivica Bandler), Tove looks set to show us that an artist's most successful creation is not always the one they expect it to be.
A riveting exploration of the campaign by key US activists — some of whom were psychiatrists themselves — to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of mental illness, Cured tells the little known story with the help of newly unearthed archive footage and interviews with the major players of this chapter of history. Likely to be one of the best documentaries of the year, so grab a ticket if you can.
There's nothing that makes us simmer with curiosity than documentaries that begin with a rare find from the past, so PS Burn This Letter Please shot to the top of our list as soon as we read the words 'a cache of letters written by 1950s New York drag queens was discovered in 2014.' The filmmakers track down the authors, now in their eighties and nineties, to hear their stories of living in a pre Stonewall New York as fearless female impersonators.