BFI Flare 2016: Sex, Love and Others Stories

B F I  F L A R E
L o n d o n  L G B T  F i l m  F e s t i v a l  2 0 1 6

Shorts programmes are always a gamble, and almost always disappointingly white. The world - as that wonderful SBS promo declared back in the '90s - is an amazing place. But gay cinema is still overwhelming about the stories of white gay men - and boys - in America, the UK and Australia. Why can't we have more stories from (particularly) Africa, the Caribbean, Asia? Are these stories just not being told? I find that hard to believe. The problem, I suspect, lies more with programmers, and their Caucasian bias.

(BFI Flare's opening gala this year was The Pass, a film starring Russell Tovey and Arinze Kene. Except you wouldn't know that from the poster, which features both actors, but only features Tovey's name. The black guy, it seems, is merely a prop. And that's not a criticism of Tovey, who in my book can do no wrong, but of whoever designed that poster.)

The Love Archive
Sex, Love and Other Stories showcased films from Israel, Spain and the US. Just one of the films features an actor who isn't Caucasian.

The programme opened with Archion Ha'ahava (English: The Love Archive). Director Ofir Feldman's film - preceded by what felt like a dozen or so logos and idents from contributing sponsors (seriously, they went on forever) - was an interesting idea. Hands up who has a folder of pictures of their exs on their computer? It's an idea that was explored in a recent episode of Girls, in which Hannah discovers her boyfriend has photos of his exs on his phone, for masturbatory purposes. But we don't know Ofir, so it's difficult to care much about his love archive.

Dinner With Jeffrey
Sam Greisman's Dinner With Jeffrey stars the very cute Javier Spivey, and comes with a very nasty twist.

Discretion (director: Tommy Garcia) is an odd one. I couldn't tell if it was an indictment of heteronormativity, or a vindication of it. At thirty-five minutes it shades into full length feature territory, and feels like the first act of Jennifer Lopez's The Boy Next Door. The boy in Discretion is Zach Gillette, the kind of all-American cornfed jock Falcon Studios said you should be dreaming about.

Letargo (English: Lethargy) rounds things off. Xavier Miralles' film pivots on a sick doggie, and a highly strung Spaniard. How much you like it will depend upon how much you like said Spaniard.

Sex, Love and Other Stories is two solid American pictures, bookended by two average foreign films. I was left wanting more.

Every year, KAOS reports from the annual BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival. This year, I'll be reviewing twelve films (including a few programmes of shorts). Next time: Akron, and Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story.


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