Culture: Film

The 27th BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

27th BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

The 27th BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is back at  BFI Southbank, London with a festival of 11 days and a new look programme that’s packed full of films, special guests, events, workshops, and music (14 – 24 March 2013).

Opening night is a great new documentary, I Am Divine, about the life and legend of the extraordinary actor, drag queen, performer and singer, born Harris Glen Milstead in Baltimore but known to the wider world as Divine.

I am Divine

click here to win 2 free tickets to attend the Opening Night gala screening of  I am Divine

New for this year’s festival, the programme is divided into three easily navigable sections:  Hearts; Bodies; and Minds and you’ll find shorts, feature length drama or documentary, events or archive classics across each section.

There are over 100 titles in the festival offering a dizzying variety of films reflecting the LGBT community around the world. Highlights include James Franco who co-directs and stars in Interior. Leather Bar., hot from the Sundance Film Festival, an Oscar-nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague, and a powerful account of LGBT life in Jamaica in Taboo Yardies. There are sexual antics amongst Australian lesbians in Submerge, youthful lesbian desire in Mosquita y Mari and indy girl rockers in She Said Boom; the story of Fifth Column.

The festival’s closing night film is a heart-warming Canadian drama called Margarita about the dilemmas facing an attractive young Mexican nanny who has a complicated love life and a host family who adore her but can’t afford to keep her. It underlines the human issues around immigration and offers an insight into the emotional life of a bright young lesbian with lots of heart.

Some key themes across this year’s festival are the documenting of the history of the AIDS crisis and its activism in films such as How to Survive a Plague and United in Anger: a history of ACT-UP. The importance of preserving historical memory and older people’s place in our community is highlighted in a rare documentary where older French LGBT people have a voice in Les Invisibles, directed by Sebastien Lifshitz, and in Jeremy Jeffs & Mark Ravenhill’s celebration of activist-actor-legend in Bette Bourne: It Goes with the Shoes.

The position of trans people and the many varieties of trans experience are also strongly represented with a range of powerful documentaries and dramas such as I Am A Woman Now, starring April Ashley and the first generation of trans women to undergo the journey to Casablanca for sex reassignment surgery.

Words: Alex Hopkins

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