More Films for Freedom LGBTQIA+ Commissions

Two people wearing suits and hats side side by side drinking tea

Neo Nahda, written and directed by May Ziadé, was a More Films For Freedom Round 3 commission

Building on the success of Five Films for Freedom (our annual digital programme run in partnership with BFI), we launched a new short film commissioning programme exploring LGBTQIA+ stories in 2019.

Our pilot More Films for Freedom programme saw three new films made by British producers working in partnership with Syrian, Palestinian and South African filmmakers. The first three films were made available online throughout summer 2020. At a time when many Pride celebrations were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the films were screened as a way of linking and celebrating LGBTIQ+ communities everywhere.

A second round of More Films For Freedom was announced at the end of 2020 and three films were commissioned from UK producers working in partnership with filmmakers of Nigerian, Libyan and South African heritage. The films enjoyed a successful festival journey taking in Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, and BFI London Film Festival, as well as finding huge awards success, nominated for a British Independent Film Award (BIFA) and winning Iris Prizes.

In April 2022, we commissioned a further four films - this time adding creatives from Brazil to those from Middle East and Africa - and the finished films are currently enjoying their festival journey during 2023.

The story so far:

2022-23

Neo Nahda

UK with French/Lebanese collaboration | 2022

Two people wearing suits and hats sit side by side drinking tea

Writer/Director | May Ziade | Producer | Antonia Luxem

A young Arab woman in London finds a photograph of women cross-dressing in 1920s Cairo. She starts a feverish journey that leads her to uncover lost histories and her own identity.

Shee

UK with Kenyan collaboration | 2022

Two young black women face each other in a nighclub one touching the other's face

Director | Lia Campbell | Writer | Anita Ashley | Producers | John McIlduff, Anna Callan

When Magnus reveals to her girlfriend Shee that she’s pregnant, their world is turned upside down, forcing the couple to decide whether keeping the baby is the best thing for their relationship.

The Enchanted Day of the Eres

UK with Brazilian collaboration | 2022

Woman wearing white shirt and colourful headscarf laughs

Writer/Directors | Coraci Ruiz, Julio Matos | Producers | Zan Barberton, Scott Radnor

Blending animation and actuality with incredible access, this documentary tells the story of an unusual birthday party. It’s a party for the ‘Erês’ - spirits venerated by the religion of Candomblé, one of the few Afro-Brazilian religions that welcomes the LGBTQIA+ community.

A Bird Called Memory

UK with Brazilian collaboration | 2022

Woman with black dreads and yellow t shirt stands against a metal chain fence

Writer/Director | Leonard Martinelli | Producers | Rafael Manuel, Naomi Pacifique, Rafael Texeira, Leonardo Martinelli

A musical about Lua, a trans woman who has lost her pet bird in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, a city that can often be a hostile place for transgendered people. As Lua journeys to find Memory, we are exposed to streets full of contradictions, suppression, and repression. And when Lua begins to sing the songs of the musicals that Memory and her often watched together, songs that her bird often whistled along to, music and cinema become a space of resistance and hope.

2021-22

2021-22

Baba

UK with Libyan collaboration | 2021

Directors | Sam Arbor, Adam Ali | Producer | Hannah Stevenson | 16 mins

Living in the tunnels beneath Tripoli a queer Libyan teenager dreams of escape to a better life, but an unexpected discovery forces him to question whether to stay or flee from homeland and friends. (Winner Iris Prize 2021).

Prayers for Sweet Waters

UK with South African collaboration | 2021

Director | Elijah Ndoumbe | Producer | Naeem Dxvis | 16 mins

A submergence into the vivid realities of three Transgender sex workers living in Cape Town, South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Egungun

UK with Nigerian collaboration 2021

Director | Olive Nwosu | Producer | Alex Polulin | 15 mins

A woman returns to her hometown of Lagos in search of healing. What she finds instead is a path that takes her into her past and toward a new understanding of the people and experiences that shaped her. (Nominated for Best Short BIFA 2021).

2020-21

Let My Body Speak

UK with Syrian collaboration | 2020

Director | Madonna Adib | Producer | Noe Mendelle | 10 mins

Our bodies store memories. The body does not forget. A childhood in Damascus, OCD, the revolution, falling in love with a woman. My body remembers.

Nowhere

UK with Palestinian collaboration | 2020

Director | Christopher Manning | Producer | Garry Paton | Co-Producers | Laura Samara and Baher Agbariya | 20 mins

‘You are stronger than you think, trust me.’

A young Palestinian woman crosses the Israeli border illegally to find her long-lost brother, discovering the truth behind his exiled existence.

The Men Who Speak Gayle

UK with South African collaboration | 2020

Director | Andrew Brukman | Writer | Nathan Kennedy | Producers | Thembisa Cochrane, Georgie Paget

Young drag performer Nathan is one of the last people to speak Gayle – a secret language the gay community were forced to invent during Apartheid.

Where we started

Our More Films partner

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