Heads Up: BFI Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

It's simply Divine ... so big it up for alternative cinema
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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about? The British Film Institute's 27th annual lesbian and gay film festival, taking place in London over 11 days, with more than 100 films on show.

Elevator pitch Drama to documentary, Divine to David Bowie: a celluloid celebration of all things queer.

Prime movers The festival programmers are Jason Barker, Michael Blyth, Nazmia Jamal, Brian Robinson and Emma Smart.

The stars The real stars are the films … the opening gala is I Am Divine, showing footage and accounts of the larger-than-life drag queen, while the closing film is a Canadian drama, Margarita, telling the story of a Mexican nanny's complicated lesbian love life. Other highlights include Beyond the Walls, a sexy and surprising debut feature, which deservedly won a prize at Critics' Week in Cannes last year; Four, the story of two simultaneous dates, starring The Wire's Wendell Pierce; Intersexion, a fascinating documentary about people born with no fixed gender; and Kylie Minogue continues her run of unlikely cameos in the unconventional love story, Jack & Diane. There's a chance to catch Mark Rydell's 1967 adaptation of D H Lawrence's The Fox, and My Brother the Devil, by Sally El Hosaini, who won Best British Newcomer at the London Film Festival.

The early buzz Londonist website writes that this "annual celebration of LGBT cinema from around the world … promises a diverse selection of talent from both well-known directors and emerging voices". A Gay Times blog says: "The programme is stuffed with treats. Divine, David Bowie, Spanish romps, Asian thrillers, Swedish boys sharing baths, black and white re-runs, cutting-edge documentaries, and, of course, the latest from James Franco's on-screen gay tourism endeavours."

Insider knowledge There's no escaping the thin white duke at the moment, and LGFF is no exception: a screening and Bowie-themed night celebrate him as a queer icon.

It's great that … there are also events and club nights – it's not just for high-minded cineastes, you know!

It's a shame that … they stuck with the name. There have been calls for it to reflect bisexuality, and the trans and queer communities. However, the subject is up for debate this year.

Hit potential Last year saw 21,000 people attending the reinvigorated event; this year should match that.

The details LGFF is at the BFI, London SE1 (bfi.org.uk), 14 to 24 March.