This year’s Flare mentees tell us about their festival experience and what’s next now that they’ve been paired with a mentor.
For a third year under the BFI NETWORK umbrella of professional development opportunities, this year’s programme in conjunction with BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival and BAFTA, will again see six selected filmmakers mentored by a senior figure from the film industry while developing industry knowledge, professional connections, and an overview of LGBTQ+ features entering the marketplace.
This years scheme kicked off with a programme of screenings, roundtables and events during BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, including an inaugural event exploring the current global market environment for LGBTQ+ cinema, as well as sessions with Cecilia Frugiuele (Parkville Pictures, writer-producer, The Miseducation of Cameron Post), Pratibha Parmar (director, Nina’s Heavenly Delights), Chanya Button (writer-director, Vita & Virginia), a “Meet the Festival Filmmakers” roundtable, and a session with the BFI Film Fund executives. All six filmmakers are now embarking on the next year feeling confident and connected, and we’re really excited to be able to announce their mentors.
Find the pairings below, where the filmmakers also tell us about their festival experience, highlighting what inspired them, and what they enjoyed the most.
Mentor: Lizzie Francke (Senior Development and Production Executive, BFI Film Fund)
I love BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival and always find it really exciting seeing the lineup, reading up on all the films, and keeping an eye out for the ones that I miss on other platforms throughout the year. This year has been really special because I was selected to be a mentee in the same year that my film played at the festival, and was selected for the BFI/British Council #FiveFilms4Freedom. Meeting the other mentees was an absolute pleasure and I loved that our cohort had several socials with mentees from previous years, that set a really warm and welcoming tone for the start of our mentorship programme. I've really enjoyed spending 11 days watching films from all over the world, debating our favourites, discussing ideas and our future projects, attending Q&As, industry panels and more intimate roundtables, having bespoke one-on-one career sessions and not to mention the chance to meet filmmakers from all over the world. The whole experience has been incredibly energising and uplifting!
Mentor: Cecilia Frugiuele (Parkville Pictures, writer-producer, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, writer, The Bisexual, producer, Appropriate Behaviour)
The combination of being selected for the mentorship and having our film, Treacle premier at the festival has been an absolute dream come true. It was simply a bonus that the fellow mentees were utterly wonderful humans who I learnt so much from throughout the 11 days. The festival blues are real and rightly so. BFI Flare is such a special event; never have I felt so welcomed and at home at a festival. The mentee programme was fantastic, thorough and extremely well put together and certainly added fuel to the fire in my belly. Through the group sessions, one-on-ones and copious amounts of films we were able to dive into discussions, which I ultimately felt will enhance me further as a filmmaker. A personal highlight for me was the session with producer and writer Cecilia Frugiuele from Parkville Pictures. I’ve admired her and Desiree Akhavan’s working relationship for years and to listen candidly about her experiences and then ask questions was truly inspiring. The BFI NETWORK and BAFTA teams were incredible throughout; so accessible and supportive. This has definitely been a highlight of my career to date and I thank them all for the opportunity. It has been a privilege. I’m thrilled to have Cecilia as my mentor, her work both as a producer and writer has inspired me as well as been a great support to me over the years. I’m going to thoroughly enjoy picking her brains and learning from her… It’s going to be a cracking year.
Mentor: Charlie Covell (BAFTA Breakthrough Brit and writer, Burn Burn Burn, The End of the F***ing World)
What a wild and wonderful 11 days! As mentees, we saw an incredible range of films across all disciplines, sat in on amazing panels and had candid discussions with extremely generous filmmakers and industry execs. Each session gave us a safe place to not only ask about a filmmaker's process, frustrations and motivations, but to talk about and get advice on our own experiences and projects. There are so many lessons and words of encouragement that I'll be taking with me into the future. Film highlights included the stunning Rafiki, the hard hitting Consequences and the vibrant short programmes. However, the most transformative aspect was bonding with the other mentees and festival delegates. I've spoken with so many filmmakers I admire, made new friends and met heaps of unique and talented people I hope to work and grow with for the rest of my career. Ending the festival dancing together until the small hours on a Monday morning was pure joy. I'm so grateful to BFI Flare, BFI NETWORK and BAFTA for the opportunity. I am also beyond thrilled to have Charlie Covell as my mentor. I am a huge fan of her work, and I know I will learn a huge amount from her both creatively and as a writer figuring out how to navigate both the film and television industries.
Mentor: Iain Canning (BAFTA-winning producer, Widows, Lion, The King’s Speech)
Having the opportunity to discuss the current state of, and potential future problems with independent cinema both during our meetings with industry leaders and within the mentorship group throughout the festival, was a highlight for me. It brought us very close as a group and allowed us to think of creative ways to overcome obstacles that could prevent work from being made. Building a network with this year’s mentees and being linked to the wider BFI Flare mentee family during the alumni dinner extends on the amazing support we have received on the programme. This encourages further work and relationships to develop which is a fantastic opportunity! I am thrilled to have Iain Canning as my mentor. Iain’s experience and expertise as an international producer with a brilliant track record in film and television is something I’m looking forward to learning from, in order to aid the development of my slate and business plan as I progress.
RHYS MARC JONES
Mentor: Wash Westmoreland (writer-director, Colette, Still Alice)
The mentorship programme at Flare was an amazing experience with the only downside being that it had to end. The eleven days helped clarify my aspirations as a filmmaker and demystified much of the inner workings of the film industry through organic and informal discussions. Filmmaking can often be an isolating endeavour, with inspiration the only fuel to get you through. No festival I've attended is more inspiring and welcoming as BFI Flare. With its eclectic programming, stimulating industry events and nightly socials and parties, BFI Flare is always a highlight and through the festival I have made friends and allies which I will take forward, not only in film, but in life. I am delighted to have Wash as a mentor, especially considering his contribution to independent cinema both here and in the US and I am excited by the prospect of absorbing as much as I possibly can over our meetings.
Mentor: Isaac Julien CBE RA (filmmaker and installation artist, Looking for Langston, Lessons of the Hour, Lina Bo Bardi - A Marvellous Entanglement)
The most amazing aspect for me would definitely be our masterclasses with execs and filmmakers. Over the course of the week, I was exposed to, and learnt so much about the industry, and as a result now have greater confidence in my own abilities. The sessions really helped to demystify some of the workings of the industry and also allowed me to bond with my fellow mentees in a genuine and meaningful way. Everything was perfect! I’ve admired Isaac Julien’s work for as long as I can remember and I’m so incredibly honoured to have him as my mentor. It feels so unreal - what a time to be alive!