BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2013 Record 22,000 Attendance

BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film festival

The 27th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival closed on Sunday 24th March 2013 with a gala screening at BFI Southbank of Margarita dir. Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, with both directors present for two sold out screenings where it was announced that Peccadillo Pictures have bought the film for UK release.

The festival opened with the International Premiere of Jeffrey Schwarz’s excellent documentary I Am Divine  about the larger than life John Waters’ superstar, drag queen, actor, singer, performer who was born Glen Harris Milstead and became Divine. The Accenture Gala was Out in the Dark, a dramatic narrative of love across the political boundaries of contemporary Israel, due for release in April by Network Releasing.

Clare Stewart, Head of Exhibition and Festival Director said, “This is a tremendous result and we are delighted to have brought so many great films and events to audiences who have responded fantastically to the programme. The atmosphere was electric and this success underlines the importance of the festival in forging a future in which diversity is celebrated and LGBT stories make it to the screen.”

Over 300 international delegates (press, film-makers and industry) attended the festival. Visiting directors included Negar Azarbayjani (Facing Mirrors), Myriam Fougere (Lesbiana), Kevin Hegge (She Said Boom), Michael Mayer (Out in the Dark), Oscar-nominated David France (How to Survive a Plague) and many more. Directors Mark Ravenhill & Jeremy Jeffs and their subject attended the world premiere of Bette Bourne: It Goes With the Shoes, a new documentary about a living legend of British gay cultural life.

Other highlights included the UK premiere of Travis Matthews’ and James Franco’s Interior. Leather Bar attended by actor Christian Patrick and the first screening in a generation of the newly rediscovered earliest British gay themed television drama, South (1959). Evan Davis hosted a reunion of the team from Framed Youth (1983) with a youth film-making workshop, and a series of discussion events on Pasolini and Chantal Akerman and Global Queer Space .

BFI Southbank rocked throughout the Festival with performance art from Brian Lobel, a Bowie night with lecture by Rupert Smith and screening of D.A. Pennebaker’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, a live accompaniment to Salome (1923) by Verity Susman, Gender Failure -a multi-media film, spoken word and music show from Rae Spoon, Ivan Coyote and Clyde Peterson, a performance by the Pink Singers, and a series of lively club nights in the bar.

The Derek Oyston CHE Film prize (£1,000) for the film which best reflects the Campaign for Homosexual Equality’s values was awarded to Selena Blake’s Taboo… Yardies, a powerful film about LGBT human rights in Jamaica; and second prize (£500) went to Intersexion, a pioneering documentary about the 1 in 2000 people born with ambiguous genitalia.

The festival trailer specially commissioned from Aleem Khan and Fariyal asked audiences “What’s in a name?” to encourage debate about whether the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival needs to change its name to reflect its wider, gender-inclusive ambitions. The question provoked a lively debate throughout the festival on social media and in person. Further consultation and an announcement of results will take place during the summer.

Over 11 days the festival enjoyed extraordinarily high levels of attendance with the majority of screenings sold out and average capacity running at 86%. More than 22,000 people enjoyed over 130 programmes of screenings and events, an increase of 1,000 on last year’s festival.

Photo: Q&A for Travis Matthews’ and James Franco’s Interior. Leather Bar Image: © Artlyst 2013