BFI Flare 2017: What I’m Really Looking Forward To…

It’s March, end of the first quarter and the most wonderful time of the year…

I’ve blocked off my calendar, done hours of reading and research, booked all the industry events and have once again produced my festival spreadsheet to make sure I don’t miss one moment of queer film goodness.

Flare Spreadsheet screen capture

Mmmm, colour-coding.

I am of course, talking about BFI Flare, one of the biggest and longest running queer film festivals in the world. I was lucky enough to be part of the team as Events Coordinator in 2013 and 2014, and have a lifetime of anecdotes to show for it. I love the variety of films shown, the ambition, the club nights and the BFI Festival team is its own superhero gang, but maybe I’m biased.

The festival kicks off tonight with Against the Law, a portrait of gay male life in the 1950s before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, now half a century ago. Everything the festival does this year falls under this shadow; I hope it’s a strengthening, emboldening factor rather than a flattening, dulling one. I hope the festival, especially this years, continues to be a mixture of remembrance, celebration and activism.

If you hadn’t heard about it, why not?! But honestly, don’t worry about tickets. I’ll say it again: Don’t freak out if you haven’t got tickets. I say this for several reasons; have you tried to herd queers? Have you ever tried to get a large group of queers (or your Caribbean family) to get to a venue on time for anything? There will be some tickets available from people who haven’t turned up, people trying to sell spares, unused sponsor tickets and sometimes late releases. If there’s a film you really really want to see, I honestly recommend turning up and queueing up. Worst come to worst, you’ll get to hang out with your friends who didn’t get tickets either. BFI Flare will have you bumping into all of your friends (including your exes, so be prepared).

With this in mind, I have a big bunch of films I want to point out for your enjoyment. These are the films I’m really looking forward to seeing:

Continue reading BFI Flare 2017: What I’m Really Looking Forward To…

Merely Films 21 I Missed Out On At BFI Blackstar

Late last year, something absolutely wonderful happened.

From October to December, BFI Black Star created a season of film full of Black talent. Week after week I camped out at Southbank, seeing a massive variety of Black films. It was such a glorious thing to have Black faces dominating the screen for weeks and months at a time.

BFI Trailer:

Unfortunately I still managed to muck it up. There was a lot of films I regret missing during BFI Black Star Season. Some by accident, through overwhelming choice, through timing, being broke, ticket deals that don’t loner cinephiles are allowed to use; at one point where I was going to buy 10 tickets I only gotten 2. Hoping BFI improves on this in the future. I really did see a f*ckton of films. And yet during the late autumn I met so many POC who hadn’t heard of Black Star, or only saw one film, or knew about Film Africa, come to the BFI and still completely miss out on Black Star.

Forever more I will be a strange mixture of smug-strated that I got to be in an audience of 30 people for the UK premiere of Lime Kiln Club, the oldest surviving film with an all black cast, dated 1913 with a display of carefree Blackness and humour. This film could easily have been one of the biggest events of the season, backed up with talks and panels and gif workshops. Instead it was scheduled at 18:15 on a Friday night in one of the smaller screens against Boyz in the Hood with director John Singleton doing a Q&A. I’m pretty sure everyone involved did not mean for it to happen, but it happened. And who knows when the next time this film (in the care of MOMA’s vaults) will be seen in the UK again?

So below, see a list of the top ten films I regret missing so you don’t have to. I urge you to look up these films. Their stories are wonderfully varied, and feature star turns from Black actors throughout the history of cinema, that can only benefit anyone who engages with their work, who don’t see their lives or faces reflected:

  1. In the Heat of the Night
    Voted greatest Black Star performance of all time. I can also recommend an amazing book about the creation of modern cinema through inception and production of the 1967 Oscar Best Picture Nominations: Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris (thoroughly, gorgeously researched, written and presented)
  1. Robeson films (The Proud Valley, Song of Freedom, Show Boat)
    Paul Robeson is most likely a literal superhero and mainstream missed out because like, racism. I was very overwhelmed by choice in this one.

  1. Stormy Weather
    I want to see this performance on the big screen!

  1. Devil in a Blue Dress
    I have heard that Don Cheadle is a BOSS in this

  1. Imitation of Life (1959)

  1. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit – this is one of my favourite films ever, I have watched it at least 20 times. It was scheduled against Desmond’s with cast and director Q&A and the Beyonce Symposium on the same Sunday afternoon .

  1. To Sleep With Anger plus Danny Glover in conversation.
    Shame on me to miss on events when there’s live talks with legendary actors. Not that I really understood how badass Danny Glover is.

  1. House Party

  1. and 10. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassssss Song & Foxy Brown.
    Again with scheduling – you could see one but not quite both on the same night. And then I was double booked with other things.

Best of the Rest…

  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

  • Within Our Gates

  • New Jack City

  • Bush Mama + Child of Resistance + Diary of an African Nun
    – Because LA Rebellion movement films are very rarely screened!

  • Black Christmas
    – A 1977 BBC TV movie starring Norman Beaton and Carmen Munroe. I fear I will never have a chance to watch again unless I screen it myself :/

  • Playing Away
    – A film that plays on my nostalgia of when the West Indies cricket team would kick arse epically. At least this one is available on BFI Player

  • Secrets and Lies

  • Nothing But a Man

  • Claudine

  • Beverley Hills Cop

  • Waiting to Exhale

    Can’t lie, literally for this GIF:


    This, unbelievably, is not an exhaustive list. Did y’all go to Black Star and only see one film? Do you even know what I’m talking about? Let me know, let’s chat!

So What’s This About Then? 

I’m Tara and I am starting a blog because I see a lot film and generally get up to a lot of things. I tend to have strong feelings about culture, and how we see things. And it’s all indelibly informed by me being a Black Queer Fat Intersectional Femme Feminist Fangirl Polya Cinephile. My fab fat queer black femme self informs everything the same way the vast majority of senior TV execs’ white heteronormative narrow viewpoint informs who we get to see on TV. 

There will be many posts to follow. But right now my sleeping pill is kicking in so is best sign off.