We're delighted to be back for another year of great queer cinema. Last year, facing the challenge of budget cuts, we were overwhelmed by audiences who turned out to support us and their reaction to the notion that the Festival's very existence might be under threat. Well we're still here and very pleased to underline our longterm commitment to the Festival. Playing out between two weekends, a wealth of great films and events, it all adds up to an unmissable event in London's queer calendar at BFI Southbank. We couldn't do it without you or the support of our sponsors and a whole army of filmmakers, distributors, community partners and individuals.
Our Opening Night film Cloudburst is a real treat starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as two older lesbians in a road movie with a difference. This is a welcome return visit for director Thom Fitzgerald who will have opened the Festival three times (The Hanging Garden 1998 & The Event 2004).
Return visits from filmmakers who have gone on to great things is a particular pleasure for programmers. Seeing a short filmmaker's early promise recognised by the wider world underlines the Festival's role as a showcase for emerging talent. Our Closing Night film is North Sea Texas by Bavo Defurne who has had many beautiful shorts screened in the Festival over the years (Campfire, Saint), and his tale of a teenager in love with the boy next door is a compelling and original work.
This year's Centrepiece films are strong and bold works: Circumstance is a powerful drama of lesbian desire in Iran, made by Maryam Keshavarz, an Iranian exile living in the US; Absent is an emotional thriller by Argentinian Marco Berger about a student's obsession with his teacher.
Documentaries are a strong feature this year. Hot from Sundance is Love Free or Die, an intimate and inspiring portrait of Bishop Gene Robinson standing up to the Anglican authorities. I Am is a revealing study of lesbians and gays and their families in India, made during the run-up to the recent law change. The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye is a fascinating account of two people devoted to each other and their pursuit of Pandrogyny. Vito is a film about Vito Russo, pioneer of gay liberation, a gay film historian and latterly a passionate Aids activist; we're also screening four archive classics he loved. Sexing the Transman gets the inside story from pornstar Buck Angel, in explicit detail.
Dramatic narrative fiction includes Pariah, Dee Rees' bold story of a young black lesbian in the Bronx whose star was praised by Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes. This is a strong year for black filmmaking with Campbell X's Stud Life and Patrik-Ian Polk's The Skinny. Kathleen Turner takes a star turn in A Perfect Family; Icelandic coming-of-age drama Jitters shows how a new generation comes out. Leave It on the Floor is a delicious, crowd-pleasing musical set in the Los Angeles competitive costume ball community.
Be sure to check out our exciting events schedule, including a special event with Pratibha Parmar about her new project on Alice Walker, discover the secret history of Glam Rock and gay pioneer Jobriath, engage with Peter de Rome, the legendary pioneer of gay erotic film, or discuss the development of trans filmmaking.
Our top Festival tip is to book early or get in the stand-by queue on the day. We often have seats released on the day for most shows. See you at the Festival (and don't forget that the clocks go forward early in the morning on Sunday 25 March).
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