26th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

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While arts funding cuts mean that the Bird’s Eye Film Festival is stuck in the doldrums this year (thanks to the coalition), the BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival has fought off austerity to return for its 26th year, bigger and queerer than…er, last year. It’s long consolidated its spot in London’s LGBT calendar, but there’s no reason to think that sexual proclivities limit the scope or the appeal of the programme (unless you only go to the cinema to pull, in which case you belong to a minority group that I just made up, and you should probably have your own alternative film festival).

The line-up is an eclectic feast of new films from around the world, as well as featuring experimental and short-film sections. There’s also the Celluloid Closet strand, which celebrates the life of gay rights activist and subversive film historian Vito Russo by giving a knowing nod to such canonic gems as Morocco and Spartacus—Hollywood classics that hide their aberrant sexual leanings about as well as Tom Cruise.

As the success of Andrew Haigh’s stunning Weekend was the most recent film to prove, queer cinema is more than able to transcend its niche. Maybe one day LGBT filmmaking will achieve equal representation in all spheres of cinema, and the LLGFF will no longer be necessary. Then again, maybe it’ll always be vital to celebrate counter-hegemonic culture with events like this. Either way, right now the festival is here to stay, so you might as well get your queer on.

The 26th LLGFF runs from Friday 23 March – Sunday 1 April at the BFI Southbank.

Words:

Tim Rogerson

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