Heads Up: BFI Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
Louder, prouder, steamier, dreamier, older and wiser
What are we talking about? It's the 10-day-long 26th BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival – so lots of new and classic queer films and events on the South Bank.
Elevator pitch The LLGFF is back ... and louder and prouder then ever.
Prime movers The festival programmers are Jason Barker, Michael Blyth, Nazmia Jamal, Brian Robinson and Emma Smart.
The stars The films. Opening gala is Cloudburst, which stars Oscar-winners Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as septuagenarian lesbians on the run from a nursing home; closing gala is North Sea Texas, a beautiful story of adolescent longing. Other highlights include some of 2011's great gay cinema moments, such as Weekend and Potiche, or brush up on your cross-dressing classics, when Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich both go androgynous in, respectively, Queen Christina (1933) and Morocco (1930). There are documentaries on everything from same-sex ballroom dancing to openly gay bishops. Or relish the chance to see Sparatcus on a big screen – with the previously cut, rather steamy bath scene between Laurence Olivier and Tony Curtis restored, naturally.
The early buzz Time Out reported that, "There were fears that the reduced length of last year's festival was a step towards cutting it altogether. But such fears proved unfounded. The [festival] promises to showcase the best in new queer film and video from around the world." Diva magazine is also keen: "Both nationally and internationally, the festival has a reputation for doing more than simply representing the best of new queer cinema; it ensures that audiences are given the opportunity to appreciate new work in a historical context with retrospective programming."
Insider knowledge There are plenty of chances to party too, with club nights in the bar, a spangled Glam Night, or the "queer peepshow of delights", Cruising for Art.
It's great that ... the festival is even still going – thanks to austerity measures, 2011 was a muted affair, but the fest has come back fighting.
It's a shame that ... you'll have to trust to the ticket ballot for many of the films: good luck!
Hit potential Surely something for everyone in the varied programme, though it may be ignored beyond the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual communities.
The details LLGFF is at the BFI, London SE1, 23 March to 1 April. www.hauserwirth.com
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