Friday 15 March 2019


The world’s largest LGBTQ+ digital campaign #FiveFilms4Freedom returns for its fifth year to bring new LGBTQ+ films to audiences all over the globe, including countries where homosexuality is still criminalised.

The project, a partnership between the British Council and BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, sees five short films from the BFI Flare programme made available across the British Council’s global digital platforms, free of charge. Watch trailer

Over eleven days, between 21 and 31 March, audiences worldwide are encouraged to watch the #FiveFilms4Freedom content via the British Council’s YouTube Arts channel, to show solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities living in countries where human rights are restricted. 

This year’s #FiveFilms4Freedom collection presents a range of compelling and thought-provoking stories, including one made under the guidance of legendary filmmaker, Werner Herzog. In the visually mesmerising Carlito se va para siempre, a man is forced to choose between his lover and his community in rural Peru. Director, Quentin Lazzarotto, made the short after Herzog challenged a group of emerging filmmakers to produce a film in the heart of the Amazonian jungle.

Two UK films are included in this year’s programme. Ladies Day focuses on a young lesbian trying to navigate uncomfortable conversations in a Sheffield hair salon. Crashing Waves, from director Emma Gilbertson, is an experimental dance piece depicting the tenderness and brutality of a complicated relationship.

Intersex rights activist Pidgeon Pagonis is the star of A Normal Girl, by award-winning director Aubree Bernier-Clarke. In this vital film Pagonis – whose activism was recognised by the Obama administration - candidly discusses the discovery in their late teens that their intersex condition had been hidden from them. 

From Iceland, ÉG, is a moving yet exhilarating drama, following a teen breaking away from societal expectations after a visit to a gender identity clinic. Vala Ómarsdóttir and Hallfríður Tryggvadóttir are the creative duo behind the film. 

Since its launch in 2014, over ten million people have engaged with #FiveFilms4Freedom in 202 countries, including places where homosexuality is still criminalised and, in some instances, punishable by death. 

On March 25, the #FiveFilms4Freedom filmmakers along with international guests in London to attend BFI Flare, will be welcomed at a special reception at the UK Houses of Parliament, hosted by Tracy Brabin MP.         

Briony Hanson, Director of Film, British Council said:

“It’s a thrill to be able to reveal the five films which make up this year’s #FiveFilms4Freedom campaign – and it’s even more thrilling to imagine the range of people in far-flung places who will be able to enjoy them. This year’s programme presents diverse and unique experiences from filmmakers across the world, but each share a universal theme highlighting that love is a human right, regardless of how we identify or where in the world we are.”

Michael Blyth, Senior Programmer, BFI Flare said:

“Now in its fifth year, #FiveFilms4Freedom continues to be an essential part of what we do at BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, allowing us an invaluable opportunity to speak to millions of people from all across the world. As ever, this year’s selection showcases the breadth and diversity of contemporary queer filmmaking with five inspiring stories of love, of resistance and of hope.” 

2019 #FiveFilms4Freedom films


Dir. Aubree Bernier-Clarke (link to interview)

1.5% of people are born with anatomy that doesn’t fit typical definitions of female or male. It is common practice for doctors to perform genital surgeries on intersex infants - often with disastrous results. A Normal Girl brings the widely unknown struggles of intersex people to light, through the story of intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis.

Aubree Bernier-Clarke is a non-binary director and cinematographer based in Los Angeles, CA. Aubree is committed to using film to tell diverse stories, often focusing on LGBTQ+ and social justice issues. Aubree uses she/her and they/them pronouns.


Dir. Quentin Lazzarotto (link to interview)

A short poetic film following Carlito, a young man living in an indigenous village at the heart of the Amazonian jungle, who decided to leave and change his life forever.

Quentin Lazzarotto grew up in the mountainous and forested region of Haut Jura, France. Carlito se ve para siempre is his second professional short fiction film.


Dir. Emma Gilbertson (link to interview)

Two young working class men explore the intimacy and vulnerability of relationships in a combative dance against the backdrop of an inner city estate, risking all under the scrutiny of a tight knit, ever judging community.

Emma Gilbertson is a UK filmmaker originally from Liverpool. She has a keen interest in films about working class, queer and female identity. 

ÉG / I (Iceland)

Dir. Vala Ómarsdóttir and Hallfríður Thora Tryggvadóttir (link to interview)

A young trans person living in a small town travels to the city searching for the freedom to be their self.

Vala Ómarsdóttir is a film director and writer from Iceland. Vala is the co-founder of GERVI Productions.

Hallfríður Thora Tryggvadóttir is a New York-based director and producer. Originally from Iceland, Hallfríður has led numerous international film and theatre productions. ÉG is Hallfríður's film directorial debut. 


Dir. Abena Taylor-Smith (link to interview)

Amma, a young, black lesbian, spends the day in an Afro-Caribbean hair salon full of fun, sheen spray, gossip and laughter - but how will she deal with the casual homophobia?

Abena Taylor-Smith is a writer and filmmaker. She is a 2017-18 participant of ShortFLIX, the Creative England/Sky Arts talent development scheme for emerging filmmakers and has been selected for the 2019 Diverse Directors workshop at the National Film & Television School.

All five films will be available to view from 00.01 on 21 -31 March via the British Council Arts YouTube channel.

Notes to Editor

About #FiveFilms4Freedom

#FiveFilms4Freedom is the world’s widest-reaching LGBTQ+ online film campaign. The campaign is run by the British Council in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, and has been running since 2015

About BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival

BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival is the UK’s longest running LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ 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 and Emma Smart, led by Artistic Director, Tricia Tuttle.  

The full programme of BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival will include 52 feature films, an expanded industry programme, selected films on BFI Player VOD service, a series of special events and archive screenings. fiveFilms4freedom will see Flare offer five LGBT short films for free across the world and promoted through the British Council’s global networks. The full programme was announced on 20th February. The festival runs 21st - 31st 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 Josh Berger CBE

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. Each year we directly reach over 65 million people and more than 660 million people via 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 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.