We’re back. Directors Notes returns for another year of the best LGBTQ+ offered around the globe via Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ festival, BFI Flare 2018. It’s great, yet again, to see an increase in the quality of cinema on show this year. This is undoubtably due to an increase in powerful cinema surrounding queer subject matters being endorsed and created. Look at this year’s Special Presentation for example, a highlight include Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per Minute, a French historical drama about the ACT UP movement that grew in Paris during the late 80s. Don’t let the genre of historical drama put you off, 120 Beats Per Minute played Cannes last year to overwhelming critical praise.

Other top picks from the Special Presentations include the centrepiece screening Jason Barker’s debut documentary A Deal with the Universe. Jason is a trans male who became pregnant back in 2010 and A Deal with the Universe follows his and his partner’s fascinating story behind their road to conceive. Also, this year’s closing gala will be Postcards from London starring Harris Dickinson, who’s star power we’ve already attested to, which is set in a neon lit vision of Soho and centred around a young man’s arrival into work as a male escort.

Outside of the Special Presentations, where we at DN like to find the hidden gems, it’s looking like a wealth of cutting edge, poignant and vibrant queer cinema in both long form and short. Our picks of the shorts on show this year include The Sermon, a period horror film a la The Witch, where a village’s social issues boil over in an exuberant Game of Thrones-esque finale, it’s surely not to be missed. Also, Outlines, Ellie Roger’s short about a young girl’s surprising interaction with her Dad’s mistress. The expectation defying, prison visit set Wren Boys, which MarBelle previously discussed in detail with Director Harry Lighton. Edmund the Magnificent, an Ian McKellen narrated fairytale short about a confused farmer’s prized pig. Mai, Marta Rodriguez’s intergenerational Spanish short about lost romantic feelings between generations and finally, Uninvited, a Korean short by Seung Yeob Lee about a young man who must hide all evidence of his boyfriend as his mother arrives for a visit. These are our picks but they’re just the cherry on the cake of what will surely be another magnificent shorts programme.

As we turn ourselves to the longer end of cinema, the features on offer aren’t half bad either. Rift, an Icelandic feature about two men haunted by the dead relationship, it’s directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen so expect moments of unease, thrills and an intriguing atmosphere. Elsewhere we see Hikaru Toda’s Of Love & Law, a documentary about a gay couple’s personal and professional perspective on Japan’s evolving culture, don’t just take our word for it though, Of Love & Law is the first documentary to win the Tokyo International Film Festival’s Japanese Splash competition so it should be high on your list of what to see at Flare this year. One final feature to be on the look out for this year at Flare is directed towards any genre fans, particularly those who like the weird and wonderful. Good Manners, directed by Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, is about two women who develop a strong bond before one of the their truths is revealed and turns their dynamic upside down. This description is intentionally vague but be sure to check it out, the BFI describe it as “this year’s great cinematic surprise”.

So, low and behold, Flare is shaping up strong as per. We’ll be covering the festival in more detail over the coming days so be sure to check back as we bring you interviews with the featured filmmakers playing the festival or better yet, get down to festival and enjoy what is sure to be a top selection of cinema.

The BFI Flare Festival 2018 takes place between the 21st March and 1st April, all information on ticketing and the full programme can be found here.

For more, check out DN’s full coverage of BFI Flare 2018

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