Later this week, public booking will open for the 26th edition of the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, which takes place down at the BFI Southbank from 23 March to 1 April 2012. As ever, the programme is rich and wide-ranging, showcasing the best in new and classic queer cinema and mixing it up with a variety of shorts, talks and special events. With the festival only a couple of weeks away, I thought I’d pick out some of the things I’m particularly looking forward to.
Firstly, I want to give a big shout out to the one and only Campbell X – a writer/director/well-dressed polymath – whose Stud Life is the only new British film to be screening at the LLGFF this year. Stud Life is heralded by festival programmer Brian Robinson as a “multi-cultural, polysexual tale of desire in contemporary London” which “feels fresh and real”. Sounds good to me.
Having somewhat shamefully missed out on them at last year’s London Film Festival (I was probably still in a misery-based stupor from enduring Snowtown), I’m also really looking forward to catching up with both Oliver Hermanus’ Beauty (Skoonheid) and Dee Rees’ Pariah. The first (and winner of the Queer Palm at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival) tells the story of a devoted husband and father struggling to repress his true sexuality in contemporary South Africa, while Rees’ debut feature (a hit at Sundance) stars Adepero Oduye as a young Brooklyn girl exploring her identity and figuring out what kind of woman she wants to be.
I always enjoy a good rock documentary (a couple of years ago I saw the heartbreaking Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell at the LLGFF), and this year Jobriath A.D. looks certain to tick that box. Described by Robinson as “a hymn to the enigmatic, cult glam rocker … ‘the true fairy of rock'”, Kieran Turner’s film focuses on the widely forgotten 1970s artist who has influenced the likes of Pet Shop Boys and Morrissey. Jobriath was one of the first internationally famous musicians to die of AIDS, and this doc looks like a great opportunity to discover more about the man.
The festival also handily includes a Best of Year sub-strand featuring some of the best queer-themed cinema that you may have missed in the past year. My highlight from this selection (and one I’ll certainly be watching again) is Andrew Haigh’s beautiful Weekend, which I placed at no.5 in my 2011 Top 10 list. It’s a low-key, intimate telling of a whirlwind Nottingham romance between Glen (Chris New) and Russell (Tom Cullen). It’s fresh, beautifully shot and full of sparkling, honest dialogue which never crosses the line into verbosity or pretentiousness. Like a British Before Sunrise, Weekend is simply one of the most enjoyable, evocative and sensuous films of the year. Superbly acted, too.
Other things I’m looking forward to include an exclusive series of excerpts from the upcoming documentary Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth + interview with director Pratibha Parmar, another rock doc – Hit So Hard – all about Hole drummer Patty Schemel, and Future Film at the LLGFF, in which the BFI’s youth branch will present a selection of short films made by young filmmakers to tackle LGBT issues.
View the full LLGFF programme and find out more info about booking HERE.