What to Watch at BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival 2021

Writer and filmmaker Billie Collins delves into this year's delicious programme and suggests some of her favourites

17 March 2021

Be still, my beating heart - the BFI Flare festival is back!

This year’s festival is jam-packed with the best of LGBTIQ+ cinema from all over the world, and I’ve been tasked with sharing my picks from the eclectic (and completely free!) shorts programme.

Picking five favourites from the festival is like taking a kid for pick ’n’ mix and making them choose between foam bananas and sugar mice (I mean, who are you NETWORK? My dentist?). So, whilst I’ve present my five recommendations here, I wholeheartedly encourage you to dive right in and explore the programme in its entirety. It’s a showcase of exceptional queer talent both in front of and behind the camera, and a testament to the variety, vibrancy and vitality of queer experiences.

Recent years have presented a myriad of challenges for the LGBTIQ+ community, and it’s galvanising, heartening and ever so important that we see ourselves, our love, our resilience and our joy represented on screen.

So, for your viewing pleasure, my top five Flare 2021 short films… 


In Acrimonious, co-writers Olivia Emden and Joseph Akubeze (who also stars) have produced a true gem. The short subtly explores class and social mobility without judgement or didacticism, and in its culmination celebrates the sheer relief of returning to the arms of those who love you (regardless of vocabulary…)

Listening In (HaMaazin)

In Omer Sterenberg’s Listening In, an Israeli soldier spies on a gay Palestinian couple. Eavesdropping on tapped phone calls, he finds himself struggling with his own desires. It’s a taught, gripping watch, with two high-stakes stories running parallel: the lovers searching for sanctuary and the young man beginning to question his duty.

All I Need is a Ball

Whether you Bend it Like Beckham, or (like me) football goes over your head, this short documentary is one to watch. In All I Need is a Ball, Director Elena Molina introduces us to freestyle champion Palomo Pujol. Bored of being the only female freestyler in Spain, she assembles a women’s league in a story of flaunting your skills and finding your tribe.

The Cost of Living

They say you’re never really alive until you truly embrace death. In this NETWORK-funded short, Death is a badass queer woman played by Genesis Lynea, and our protagonist Lily does a little more than - ahem - ‘embrace' her. In The Cost of Living, director Alice Trueman nails a stylish and sexy aesthetic in a film that is a darkly comic and visually delicious.

Unliveable (Inabitável)

When a trans woman goes missing, her mother and best friend unite to find her, but nothing is really as it seems. Matheus Farias and Enock Carvalho’s film sensitively highlights the very real violence inflicted on the trans community every day, but with a clever genre twist they subvert our expectations, lifting us out of the darkness and into the light.

Check out the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival programme in its entirety here.