Wednesday 03 March 2021


  •  British Council launches 7th edition of world’s largest LGBTIQ+ digital campaign in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival
  • Five short films from India, Spain, Sweden, UK and the USA
  • Calls for global audience solidarity in response to isolating impact of Covid-19
  • New Five Films Favourite online audience poll launched for 2021

Five Films For Freedom, the world’s largest LGBTIQ+ digital campaign, returns for its seventh edition in 2021, reminding audiences that Love is Still a Human Right. Broadcasting five brand new LGBTIQ+ films to countries around the world, this year’s programme showcases queer storytelling from India, Spain, Sweden, USA and the UK.

In a continuing creative partnership, the British Council has selected five short films from the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and will make them available across the British Council’s global digital networks, for free, from 17 - 28 March.

Five Films For Freedom 2021 sees filmmakers exploring emerging sexuality, trans-activism, homophobia and genderless love. More details below and watch the campaign trailer here

Global audiences are encouraged to show solidarity with LGBTIQ+ communities around the world and view the films via the British Council’s Arts YouTube channel. This year’s campaign acknowledges that links between global LGBTIQ+ communities may have been adversely impacted by restrictions arising from Covid-19. In response, the campaign’s call-to-action – asking audiences to share the films widely using the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom – serves as a timely reminder that Love is Still a Human Right for LGBTIQ+ communities who continue to feel isolated.

In a new twist for 2021, audiences will be invited to nominate their Five Films Favourite, selecting the film that resonates most for them via a British Council web poll. The winning film will be announced via British Council social media channels prior to 28 March. Voting for the Five Films Favourite opens 17 March via the Five Films For Freedom homepage.

Over 15 million people from more than 200 countries have viewed the Five Films For Freedom programme since its launch in 2015. This continues to include online engagement in countries where homosexuality can be prosecuted and, in some cases, punishable by death. 

Commenting on Five Films For Freedom’s 2021 focus, to support and sustain global LGBTIQ+ connections, the British Council’s Director of Film, Briony Hanson, says: 

“After such a remarkable and difficult year, it feels so good to be able to send a positive message of support and solidarity to LGBTIQ+ communities the world over, by inviting audiences everywhere to watch Five Films For Freedom. The range of experiences shown and the diversity of voices reveal that wherever you are, the campaign’s message - that love is still a human right - is more relevant than ever.”   

Michael Blyth, Senior Programmer, BFI Flare, adds:

“Now in its seventh year, Five Films For Freedom remains an integral part of BFI Flare, giving audiences worldwide the chance to access a selection of extraordinary short films from our programme. It has been humbling and gratifying to see how many millions of people we have reached since launching the project in 2015, and we are so excited to continue working with the British Council to reach millions more this year.”

Building on the success of Five Films For Freedom, the British Council, BFI NETWORK and BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival have partnered for a second year to commission three brand new LGBTIQ+ short films from filmmakers from the Middle East and across the African continent working in partnership with filmmakers in the UK. These films, under the banner #MoreFilmsForFreedom, will be launched in Summer 2021. 

Five Films For Freedom continues the British Council’s work building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching.  

Five Films For Freedom programme 2021:

  • Bodies of Desire (India/Dir. Varsha Panikar & Saad Nawab/3 mins), directed by Varsha Panikar and multi-award-winner Saad Nawab, uses Indian poet Panikar’s work as the basis for a visual, poetic film capturing four sets of lovers in a sensual celebration of genderless love and desire.
  • Land of the Free (Sweden/Dir. Dawid Ullgren/10 mins) – Ullgren’s tense Swedish drama follows the fictional David and friends as they celebrate his birthday with a nightly swim at the beach. The good mood swiftly changes after two straight couples walk by and laugh – was the laughter directed at them, or something else? Who owns the truth of exactly what happened?
  • Pure (USA/Dir. Natalie Jasmine Harris/12 mins) is the fictional debut from 2020 Directors Guild of America Student Film Award winner Natalie Jasmine Harris, centring on a young Black girl grappling with her queer identity and ideas of ‘purity’. The film is written, produced and directed by Harris – a filmmaker passionate about the intersection between filmmaking and social justice.
  • Trans Happiness is Real (UK/Dir. Quinton Baker/8 mins) – a moving documentary from first-time filmmaker Quinton Baker – sees transgender activists take to the streets of Oxford, England to fight anti-trans sentiments using the power of graffiti and street art.
  • Victoria (Spain/Dir. Daniel Toledo/7 mins) follows a bittersweet reunion between a trans woman and her ex, sparking tension and long buried resentment. Directed by award-winning filmmaker, Daniel Toledo, Victoria also features acclaimed trans actress, writer and director Abril Zamora (The Life Ahead, The Mess You Leave Behind).

All films will be available to view from 17 - 28 March 2021 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:  

Hayley Willis, Senior Media Relations Manager, British Council – / +44 (0)7542 268 184

For further information on BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, please contact:

Mia Farrell, PR Manager, BFI Festivals - / +44 (0)20 7957 8970 / (0)7774 332 926


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 Five Films For Freedom

Five Films For Freedom is 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. 

Share online using #FiveFilmsForFreedom via: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

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 35th edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival will take place 17 – 28 March, available digitally UK-wide on BFI Player. Tickets go on sale via on the 2 March. 

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 Tim Richards.