Wednesday 11 March 2020

Five Films For Freedom, the world’s largest LGBTIQ+ digital campaign, will mark its sixth year by broadcasting five brand new LGBTIQ+ films to countries around the world, including those where homosexuality remains illegal.

In this continuing creative partnership, the British Council makes five short films from the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival available across the British Council’s global digital networks, free of charge, from 18 - 29 March 2020.

In 2020, filmmakers from Norway, Ireland, Brazil, and the UK explore compelling LGBTIQ+ realities, from navigating family relationships to the struggle for and celebration of sexual freedom. Watch the campaign trailer here.

Global audiences are encouraged to show solidarity with LGBTIQ+ communities around the world by watching the films on the British Council’s YouTube Arts channel.

This year’s Five Films For Freedom programme comprises an inspiring mix of drama and documentary from multi-award-winning directors and screenwriters. The selection includes: 

  • 134: Irish drama capturing a family’s voyage through gender identity, modern adolescence and parental expectation. Director Sarah-Jane Drummey gives viewers an emotional glimpse into protagonist Jack’s journey to win the love and acceptance of their parents.
  • After That Party: Brazilian director Caio Scot tells the moving story of a man on a mission to find the perfect way to tell his father he knows the truth about his sexuality.
  • Pxssy Palace: UK documentary from Laura Kirwan-Ashman, co-founder of female film collective Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah, offering a unique insight into the London-based QTIPOC (queer, trans, intersex, people of colour) collective and eponymous club night.
  • Something In The Closet: British writer and director Nosa Eke’s short film sees a queer teenager struggle with her sexuality as her desires begin to manifest themselves in unsettling ways.
  • When Pride Came To Town: Award-winning directors Julia Dahr and Julie Lunde Lillesæter provide a provocative yet heart-warming account of Norway’s rural Pride network through the eyes of 52-year-old Bjørn-Tore, shedding light on the ongoing battle for gay rights in one of Europe’s most liberal countries. 

Over 14 million people from more than 200 countries have viewed the Five Films For Freedom programme since its launch in 2015. This includes online engagement in countries where homosexuality remains illegal, and in some cases punishable by death.

Acknowledging Five Films For Freedom as a unique global opportunity for LGBTIQ+ support and connection, former participant and Scottish film director Siri Rødnes said: 

“Five Films For Freedom made my short film ‘Take Your Partners’ available all over the world to audiences it would never otherwise have reached. I am immensely proud to have been involved in this truly innovative programme and to have had the opportunity to promote and publicly discuss my film’s universal themes on such an international scale.”

Building on the success of Five Films For Freedom, the British Council and partners BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and BFI NETWORK, announced last year three further LGBTIQ+ short film commissions under the banner #MoreFilms4Freedom. These films will also screen as part of this year’s BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival. 

Briony Hanson, Director of Film, British Council, commented:

“It’s a privilege to announce this year’s Five Films For Freedom selection. At the British Council, we are proud that filmmakers trust us to present their work to the eyes of the world, and we’re always overwhelmed by the positive response. Imagining audiences across the globe enjoying the films and witnessing their reactions to them is really eye-opening – it feels like the whole world is taking a moment to celebrate LGBTIQ+ lives with us.”

Michael Blyth, Senior Programmer, BFI Flare, said:

“Since its inception in 2015, Five Films For Freedom has given us the opportunity to share queer stories with millions of audiences across the world. As LGBTIQ+ people in many countries continue the ongoing fight for basic human rights, this campaign offers an essential moment for global communities to come together in solidarity and ensure that our collective voices remain heard.”

All films will be available to view from 18 - 29 March 2020 via the British Council Arts YouTube channel. 

Notes to Editor

Press pack, including images, here:

For further information, including screening links and interview opportunities, please contact:

Vicci Nelmes, Media Relations Officer, British Council – | +44 (0)20 7389 3083

Mia Farrell, PR Manager, BFI Festivals – | +44 (0)20 7957 8970

Sarah Bemand, Press Officer, BFI – | +44 (0) 20 7957 8940

About Five Films For Freedom

Five Films For Freedomis the world’s widest-reaching LGBTIQ+ online film campaign. The campaign has been run by the British Council in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival since 2015.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

About BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival

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.

The 2019 edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival included 53 feature films, an expanded industry programme, selected films on BFI Player VOD service, a series of special events and archive screenings. Five Films For Freedom saw BFI Flare offer five LGBTIQ+ short films for free across the world and promoted through the British Council’s global networks. The full programme was made available on 20th February. The festival ran from 21st - 31st March 2019.

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 Josh Berger CBE.

Five Films For Freedom 2020

134 (Ireland)

Dir. Sarah-Jane Drummey

Jack Leahy always knew he was a girl. The film begins and ends with the moment Jack first publicly presents himself as such. While Jack’s mother Christine is in full support when the film begins, we get a hint of her past turmoil. But ultimately, it is his father’s love and acceptance that Jack seeks.

Sarah-Jane Drummey enjoyed a successful career as an actress in her native Ireland and the UK before becoming an award-winning filmmaker.

After That Party / Depois Daquela Festa (Brazil) 

Dir. Caio Scot 

Leo had never imagined he would see his father kissing another man in the middle of a party…Until it happened. Now, with the help of his best friend Carol, he has to find the most perfect way to tell his father that he found out about his secret.

Caio Scot is an actor, director, producer and screenwriter. Depois Daquela Festa is his second short film.

Pxssy Palace (UK) 

Dir. Laura Kirwan-Ashman 

An introduction to and snapshot of Pxssy Palace, a London-based QTIPOC (queer, trans, intersex, people of colour) collective and club night.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman is a writer-director whose work focuses on blackness, queerness, and the female experience. She co-founded female film collective Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah in 2016.

Something In The Closet (UK)

Dir. Nosa Eke

A queer teenager struggles with her sexuality as her desires manifest their way from the depths of her eerie closet into reality.

Nosa Eke is a platform agnostic writer and director, working in interactive and traditional storytelling. Her debut interactive feature film is currently in development with the BFI.

When Pride Came To Town / Bygdehomo (Norway) 

Dir. Julia Dahr and Julie Lunde Lillesæter 

A provocative yet heart-warming story about the clash between conservatism and sexual freedom in one of Europe’s most liberal countries. After leaving his rural hometown to escape homophobia, Bjørn-Tore returns decades later to participate in its first Pride parade. 

Julia Dahr is an award-winning documentary director, motivated by telling character-led stories on human rights and sustainable development issues. Her first feature was the critically acclaimed documentary Thank You For The Rain (2017).

Julie Lunde Lillesæter has directed, shot and produced several award-winning documentaries. In 2018, she was named Norway’s Video Journalist of the Year