Wednesday 08 March 2023
  • British Council and BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival launch 9th edition of world’s widest-reaching LGBTQIA+ digital showcase 
  • Five short films from Cyprus, Guyana, Nigeria, Northern Ireland and South Korea can be watched for free across the world from 15-26 March
  • Films translated into 23 different languages to maximise global audience

Five Films for Freedom, the world’s widest-reaching LGBTQIA+ digital campaign, returns on 15 March bringing five new LGBTQIA+ films from Cyprus, Guyana, Nigeria, Northern Ireland and South Korea to audiences across the world.

The film programme continues the British Council’s partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, with the short films promoted across the British Council’s global digital networks and BFI Player for free from 15-26 March to coincide with the festival at BFI Southbank and online at

The selection of films, chosen by the British Council from BFI Flare’s programme, explores subjects such as violence and security, love across borders and shifting identities. The films in 2023 are:

  • All I Know by Obinna Robert Onyeri (Nigeria/USA)
  • Butch Up! by Yu-jin Lee (South Korea)
  • Eating Papaw on the Seashore by Rae Wiltshire and Nickose Layne (Guyana)
  • Just Johnny by Terry Loane (UK – Northern Ireland)
  • Buffer Zone by Savvas Stavrou (UK/Cyprus)

Global audiences are encouraged to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities around the world where freedom and equal rights are limited by watching the films via the British Council Arts YouTube channel and through other channels in countries with access restrictions.

Since 2015 and with the programmes live for less than 100 days, Five Films for Freedom films have been viewed 20 million times by people in over 200 countries and principalities, including all parts of the world where homosexuality is criminalised, and all countries where the death penalty is in place. 

British Council Director of Film, Briony Hanson, said: 

“Five Films for Freedom promotes rarely heard LGBTQIA+ stories from around the world, and makes them accessible to a global audience, particularly for people living in cultures where they cannot live or love as they would like.

“People can support this campaign through the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom to drive home the message that love is a human right, no matter how we identify or where we are.”

Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s Senior Programmer said: 

“We are delighted to once again be partnering with the British Council on Five Films for Freedom. This global campaign is an essential part of the BFI Flare programme, and it’s a privilege to share the work of these hugely talented filmmakers with millions of people around the world, many of whom do not have the same level of access to LGBTQIA+ film, or the rights to express themselves freely. This year’s campaign remains as vital and urgent as ever.”

Watch the Five Films for Freedom campaign trailer on YouTube: 

Five Films for Freedom continues the British Council’s work building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. This year the five selected titles have been translated and made available with subtitles/closed captioning in 23 languages.   

During BFI Flare, the Five Films for Freedom programme and filmmakers are presented at a special reception event for politicians in Westminster.

All I Know, Obinna Robert Onyeri, 16 mins, 2022, Nigeria/USA 

Two friends meet for dinner, one goes to meet a stranger for a hook-up date while the other goes home. We follow a man’s search for his friend that puts him at risk of revealing life-altering secrets they both share.

Obinna is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, born in Lagos, Nigeria. He studied Film at the University of California, Los Angeles, receiving the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Directing Fellowship award and the George Burns and Gracie Allen Scholarship.

Buffer Zone, Savvas Stavrou, 16 mins, 2022, UK/Cyprus

Two young soldiers across enemy lines fall in love and find escape from their oppressive environments through music.

Savvas was born in Cyprus and studied Film at the University of Westminster, London. He works as a director across advertising, music video and short film, and he is developing his first feature. He is a Sundance Lab alumnus.

Butch Up! Yu-jin Lee, 12 mins, 2022, Korea

"Stop being miserable." After hearing her ex's last words to her, Mi-hae, a lead singer of an independent band, cannot get herself to sing the band's most popular song, Oppa's Girl.

Yu-Jin Lee studied film directing at the Korea National University of Arts. Her first short film, A Good Mother, was the most talked about queer film of the year in Korea.

Eating Papaw on the Seashore, Rae Wiltshire, Nickose Layne, 18 mins, 2022, Guyana 

A coming-of-age film about Asim and Hasani, two queer Guyanese boys, navigating their feelings in a homophobic society.

Rae studied literature and linguistics at the University of Guyana. As a playwright, he won Best New Guyanese play at Guyana’s National Drama Festival in 2015, he recently won the Guyana Prize for Literature in Drama, 2022, for his play Don’t Ask Me Why. Nickose is a playwright, poet and actor. studied Theatre Arts at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.

Just Johnny, Terry Loane, 19 mins, 2021, UK - Northern Ireland

Maria and Dermot's straightforward family life takes a sudden turn when their son Johnny announces that he wants to wear a dress for his Holy Communion. Both parents are keen to do what is best for Johnny, but their different opinions almost pull the happy family apart.

Terry was born and bred in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and studied photography at Ulster University. He began designing for film in 1996 on the Oscar-nominated short Dance Lexie Dance, and in 1998 he wrote and directed his first short film comedy, CLUCK. His latest feature as director, The Last Rifleman, starring Pierce Brosnan and John Amos, is released this year. The film was written by former Hollyoaks actor Gerard McCarthy who came out last summer as non-binary.

Notes to Editor

High resolution stills and images for the Five Films for Freedom 2023 campaign can be found here:

For media enquiries, including arranging interviews with filmmakers please contact:
Peter Hawkins +44
Urgent media enquiries to +44 (0)7469 375 160

For BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival media enquiries, please contact:
Sarah Bemand, BFI Press Officer +44(0)2079578940

About Five Films for Freedom

Five Films for Freedom is a global, online short film programme in support of LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) rights, staged in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival. The 2023 edition runs from 15-26 March.

Every year we invite audiences everywhere to watch the five films online in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities in places where freedom and equal rights are limited, and to spread the word using the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom.

About BFI Flare

BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ 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 Grace Barber-Plentie, Jay Bernard, Michael Blyth, Zorian Clayton, Brian Robinson, Rhianna Ilube and Wema Mumma. Ulrich Schrauth is BFI Flare’s Expanded Programmer.

The 2022 edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival saw a successful return to BFI Southbank, with the programme presented in venue for the first time since 2019 and a selection of titles online via BFI Player. The programme screened with 56 feature premieres and 84 shorts screened from 42 countries. In a continued partnership between BFI Flare and British Council, the eighth  edition of the global campaign Five Films For Freedom, a landmark initiative presenting 5 films for free to audiences globally, inviting everyone everywhere to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities in countries where freedom and equal rights are limited. The 2022 digital campaign attracted over three million views from around the world. Since its launch in 2015, Five Films For Freedom films have been viewed by 20 million people online, in over 200 countries and principalities.

The 2023 edition runs from 15-26 March, presenting 28 World Premieres (across features and shorts) with 58 features and 90 shorts from 41 countries, and for the first time will present BFI Flare Expanded, a selection of four immersive art and virtual reality works from boundary-pushing LGBTQIA+ artists.

About the BFI

We are a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor, and the UK’s lead organisation for film and the moving image.

Our mission is:

  • To support creativity and actively seek out the next generation of UK storytellers
  • To grow and care for the BFI National Archive, the world’s largest film and television archive
  • To offer the widest range of UK and international moving image culture through our programmes and festivals - delivered online and in venue
  • To use our knowledge to educate and deepen public appreciation and understanding
  • To work with Government and industry to ensure the continued growth of the UK’s screen industries

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter.

The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Tim Richards

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021-22 we reached 650 million people.