In focus: More Films for Freedom

Three new short films have been commissioned by BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, the British Council, and BFI NETWORK as part of the More Films for Freedom programme.

A drag queen in profile speaking into a microphone.

The selected films - all cross-cultural collaborations exploring LGBTQ+ stories - build on the success of the original Five Films for Freedom digital campaign, which originated in 2015 as a partnership between BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and the British Council.

This year’s pilot More Films for Freedom programme supports urgent, creative collaborations exploring LGBTIQ+ themes. The three selected projects will showcase a breadth of distinctive filmmaking voices and explore diverse themes including sexuality and conflict; inter-generational gay culture; and migration and family ties.

They include two documentaries and one fiction project, with collaborations between UK filmmakers and Syrian, Palestinian and South African filmmakers currently based in Lebanon, Israel, and South Africa.

The three selected projects have each been awarded a grant from the British Council of £10,500 to cover all stages of production. Each team has been working with executive producer Loran Dunn (former Screen Star of Tomorrow, BFI Vision Awardee, and producer, A Deal With the Universe) whose support has been provided alongside their funding, to mentor both team and project from script through to edit. The projects are due for delivery in February 2020, with the possibility of screening at next year’s BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival in March, as well as appearing alongside the 2020 #FiveFilms4Freedom campaign.

The selected projects and teams are:

Let My Body Speak

A pair of feet with toes scrunched up.

Director Madonna Adib, producer Noe Mendelle. 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, it keeps the trauma. And after all the losses, I had to start listening to my body.


A woman in a head scarf looks to the right.

Writer-director Christopher Manning, producer Garry Paton, co-producers Laura Samara Hawa and Baher Agbariya. A young Palestinian woman crosses the Israeli border illegally to find her long-lost brother, who she hopes will be her ticket to a new life far from the West Bank. When she discovers the truth behind his exiled existence, her dreams of a happy reunion are shattered, and she must face her next steps alone.

The Men Who Speak Gayle

A drag queen in profile speaking into a microphone

Director Andrew Brukman, writer/storyteller Nathan Kennedy, producers Thembisa Cochrane and 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. He finds out about Louis, an original Gayle speaker living in a conservative desert town in South Africa and wants to put on a performance with him. These men, two generations apart and from different cultural and racial backgrounds have never met - and have no idea how the town will react.

Part of Five Films for Freedom

The Five Films for Freedom digital campaign has generated views from nearly 14 million people in 202 countries and principalities since 2015. In previous editions of the campaign, a gap was found in projects and stories originating in countries within the African continent and the Middle East. In response, this year’s More Films for Freedom is supporting three collaborations between filmmakers in the UK and countries in those regions.

Five Films for Freedom 2020 took place between 18-29 March.

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