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With awards season winding down for another year, it’s time for next year’s crop of talent to showcase their work – and London’s premiere LGBTQIA+ Film Festival is ready to do just that. 

With the festival in its 37th year, this year the boundaries have been pushed farther than ever. With the inclusion of BFI Flare Expanded – an all new free immersive queer art experience – the festival is hoping to take audiences beyond just the cinema screen.

As the world’s first virtual reality museum, the immersive space features interactive virtual reality, screen-based installations and 3D-scanning all based upon themes of self-expression, belonging and vulnerability. So, if you’re looking for something extra than just this year’s selection of films, the festival is packed to the rafters with LGBTQIA+ excellence.

As BFI Flare kicks off this week at BFI Southbank and on BFI Player, here are our five top picks of what you should catch during this year’s festival. 

The Stroll

Trans stories are centre stage at this year’s event, with Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker’s documentary The Stroll clinching the closing slot of the Festival on Saturday 25 March. Showcasing trans sex workers of colour in the 1990-2000s New York, the film offers an unseen insight into the family that is built through working the streets. We often only see violence and brutality when it comes to showcasing trans sex workers, but Lovell and Drucker have created a film that allows the trans women of colour involved to own their own narrative. Fresh from winning the Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award, The Stroll is a powerful, poignant and memorable piece of work.

Willem & Frieda

The BFI Flare will see the official World Premiere of Stephen Fry’s investigative film Willem & Friedaagain, a documentary tapping into often unseen and unheard stories from the queer community. From director John Hay, the documentary explores the occupation of the Netherlands in World War II and how Willem Arondeus, an openly gay painter, and Frieda Belinfante, musician and first woman to lead an orchestra, joined the anti-Nazi resistance. Fry explores how their combined efforts helped save thousands of lives during the Nazi Regime. Including testimony from key survivors of the atrocities of The Holocaust, as well as journalists and family members from the time, Willem & Frieda is a moving and shocking dive into the strength of our LGBTQIA+ ancestors.


For lovers of K Pop and Sex Education, XX+XY is a coming of age story with a difference. The South Korean film follows Jay as they start a new school – coming up against the challenges many young teens face during adolescence. However, Jay’s story is different – they’re intersex. XX+XY offers a fresh, funny and warm insight into a narrative that is often lost within the LGBTQIA+ community. Starring Hyun Ho Ahn, Woo-Sung Choi and Ji-in Kim, this rom-com is an inspiring and affirming example of how intersex representation in film can be achieved with humour as well as great intelligence.

Who I Am Not

Spotlighting the lives of those outside of the binary, director and screenwriter Tünde Skovrán’s documentary Who I Am Not explores the power of finding solace from our wider LGBTQIA+ community. Following beauty queen Sharon-Rose Khumalo and intersex rights activist Dimakatso Sebidi, this documentary set in South Africa takes us on a journey through the many challenges they both face existing in the world. From making connections emotionally and romantically, to what does it mean to define one’s identity entirely – Who I Am Not is an inquisitive exploration of what it means to find healing through community.


A sensitive and painful look at the reality for trans people in sport, Mel follows professional weightlifter Mel Daluzyan as they experience their life being turned upside down following a public outing. The Armenian athlete is faced with anti-trans protests up and down the country, leaving him with little option but to flee. A much needed film exploring LGBTQIA+ migrants, transphobia and loss, Mel is a must see for all LGBTQIA+ people both within and outside of the sporting world.

For more information and tickets, head to the official BFI Flare website.

BFI FLARE: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival runs from March 15th – March 26th 2023.