Main photo credit: Rebel Dykes (2021) Background Photo credit Jill Posener

BFI Flare, one of the first casualites of the UK lockdown in 2020 is returning in 2021 online. This year they had a lot more time to prepare for being online, so we’re super excited to see what the festival has to offer!

Ahead of the main programme launch on 23 February BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival is happy to announce the festival premieres of REBEL DYKES (UK, dir. Harri Shanahan and Sian A. Williams) and FIREBIRD (UK/Estonia, dir. Peeter Rebane). Both UK-produced features will receive their world premieres at next month’s festival, which runs digitally, available to a UK-wide audience from 17- 28 March 2021 via BFI Player.

For our audience, Rebel Dykes is certainly going to be one to watch – this is one of the real benefits of BFI Flare being online – this is one of those films that would have had 2 Screen 1 screenings and 2-3 smaller screenings and will still have not had enough seats. Whilst we’re sad to not be seeing this on the big screen, we’re delighted that more people will be able to see it.

REBEL DYKES will be shown in the Minds strand of the Festival, having previously screened an earlier shorter work-in-progress version to a rapt audience in 2016.

REBEL DYKES puts a forgotten history firmly on the map, with a joyful and colourful story of post-punk dyke culture in the UK as told by those artists, performers, musicians, sex workers and activists who lived it and together found their chosen family.

A heady, energised mash-up of animation, unseen archive footage and interviews, REBEL DYKES provides an intimate insight into the politically charged, artistically radical sub culture in 1980s London, and the individuals who helped shape and change their world. Bringing together BDSM nightclubs, inclusive, sex-positive feminism, DIY zine culture, post-punk musicians and artists, squatters, activists and sex workers, these rebel dykes went out onto the streets to make their voices heard. From feminist protests at Greenham Common to anti-Thatcher rallies and later protests against AIDS and Section 28, the rebel dykes united LGBTIQ+ communities against a hostile landscape of fear, prejudice and homophobia, finding the freedom and power to love and live out their politics.

On being able to world premiere REBEL DYKES and FIREBIRD at BFI Flare, Michael Blyth, Senior Programmer, BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, said:

“Films don’t get much different than FIREBIRD and REBEL DYKES, one a lavishly sweeping gay romance, the other a rousing documentation of anarchic lesbian power, but both effortlessly demonstrate the breadth of new queer work emerging from the UK. BFI Flare truly is the perfect World Premiere home for these two extraordinary stories. Grab your tissues. Grab your placards! ”

Siobhan Fahey, Producer, REBEL DYKES, said:

“The Rebel Dykes team are honoured and delighted to be having the film’s world premiere at BFI Flare. This feels like the natural home for our film.  We have been supported by BFI Flare from the beginning of our project, and we are excited to introduce our completed film for the first time, especially to all our supporters and followers who have helped make this film happen.”

REBEL DYKES is produced by Siobhan Fahey, executive produced by Charlotte Knowles, Melanie Iredale, Michelle Mangan and Phil Hunt.

This year’s BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival (17-28 March) will deliver virtual festival premieres of the best new LGBTIQ+ cinema from around the world via BFI Player to UK-wide audiences, in the most accessible version of the festival yet, including features, free shorts programmes and events. The full programme for this year’s BFI Flare, including details of how and when ticket booking opens, will be announced at a digital programme launch on Tuesday 23 February, 18:00 GMT via the BFI YouTube channel. This launch will be available for the public to attend for the first time.

About BFI Flare

BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival is the UK’s longest running queer film event. It began in 1986 as Gay’s Own Pictures. By its 3rd edition it was tagged the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and since then has grown to become the largest LGBTIQ+ film event in the UK, and its most anticipated. The Festival changed its name to BFI Flare in 2014 to reflect the increasing diversity of its films, filmmakers and audience. The festival is programmed by Jay Bernard, Michael Blyth, Zorian Clayton, Brian Robinson, Emma Smart and guest programmer Tara Brown, led by Festivals Director, Tricia Tuttle.

About the BFI

The BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image. It is a cultural charity that:

  • Curates and presents the greatest international public programme of World Cinema for audiences; in cinemas, at festivals and online
  • Cares for the BFI National Archive – the most significant film and television archive in the world
  • Actively seeks out and supports the next generation of filmmakers
  • Works with Government and industry to make the UK the most creatively exciting and prosperous place to make film internationally

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Tim Richards.