The British Film Institute’s London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is one of the most important events in the LGBT arts and culture calendar. It started out in 1986 under the title Gay’s Own Pictures, and was renamed the LLGFF in 1988. This year is the 26th, and it runs from 23 March to 1 April.
The Opening Night Gala film, Cloudburst, is charming, beautiful, funny, and heartfelt. It stars Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as a couple whose day-to-day life is threatened by a granddaughter who wants to put Dotty (Fricker) in a nursing home because she’s blind. The wishes of her “friend” Stella (Dukakis) do not come into play. And so the two run off to Canada to get married, and on the way pick up the gorgeous Ryan Doucette. It’s a road movie, it’s a love story, and it’s a comedy. Cloudburst started out as a play by Thom Fitzgerald in 2010, and was filmed in 2011. This year will be the third that one of his films has opened the festival. Cloudburst has already sold out for its three screenings at the LLGFF, but it’s on general release in the UK later this year.
Of the many fascinating documentaries in the programme, one is about the activist Vito Russo. Russo wrote a book called The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies, first published in 1981 and then made into a documentary in 1996. (Click here to read Polari’s review of the 2009 DVD release.) As part of the LLGFF, the BFI is screening four key films from his book, Queen Christina (1933), Morocco (1930), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), and Spartacus (1960). This is a great chance to see these classic films as they were meant to be seen: on the big screen.
Polari will be covering the LLGFF, and highlighting what to see, but one of the documentaries I want to mention right now is This Is Not A Dream, directed by Ben Walters and Gavin Butt. It’s about queer performers who use video technology, and one of the subjects is Alp Haydar. You can watch a video interview with Alp, and read about his work, in two separate features this month. Ben will be writing about the film exclusively for Polari later this week. Also, Polari interviewed Andrew Haigh, the director of one of the three Best of the Year films, Weekend, and Chris New, one of the two lead actors.
You can read all about the rich and diverse 26th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on the official website. Check back for exclusive previews and reviews here on Polari in the coming weeks.