Tuesday 14 March 2017


A suburban train station, London’s riverside and the streets of Paris form some of the backdrops to the stories being screened at #FiveFilms4Freedom, the world’s widest-reaching LGBT online short film programme.

The line-up for #FiveFilms4Freedom, run by the British Council (the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities) and the BFI (British Film Institute), this year explores topics ranging from transgender parenting to machismo and sexuality to dating apps.

The five short films will be made available online and free of charge for audiences across the globe from 16-26 March.

The programme has been selected from, and coincides with, BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, and builds to a single campaign day – Tuesday 21March – when people everywhere are encouraged to watch the films in solidarity with LGBT communities in countries where freedom and equal rights are limited.

On the 21March, global audiences are encouraged to watch and share the films using the hashtag #FiveFilms4Freedom to recognise that love is a human right.

As the world’s widest reaching digital celebration of LGBT film, the initiative, now in its third year will be promoted through the British Council’s global network of over 100 countries, reaching audiences from the Americas, China and India, to Europe, the Middle East and beyond. This will be a chance for audiences, wherever they are, to enjoy LGBT cinema and to find out more about emerging LGBT filmmakers from around the world.  For the first time – and commemorating the fact that 2017 marks 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK – all five of the selected films are British.

Last year, the campaign reached 140 million people in 179 countries, with the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands and Germany being amongst the countries where the films were watched the most.

2017 FILMS

The five short films selected for 2017 include both drama and documentaries and tell stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experiences. They range from the tentative steps of first love, through an intimate portrait of an extraordinary family, to an exuberant picture of underground cultural expression. They are:


Director Rosie Westhoff / UK 2016 / 8 mins

An almost wordless story of the flash of first love as a young girl waits for her train in Britain.

Where We Are Now

Director Lucie Rachel UK 2016 / 9 mins

An intimate documentary portrait of the relationship between a transgender parent and her bisexual daughter in Scotland.

Heavy Weight

Director Jonny Ruff / UK 2016 / 13 mins

A boxer finds his world turned upside down by the arrival of a new fighter at the club.

Still Burning

Director Nick Rowley / UK/France 2016 / 9 mins

Era, a young migrant from Guadeloupe living in Paris, introduces his brother to leotards, heels and the ‘fierce’ attitude of the dance movement ‘voguing’.


Director Christopher Manning / UK 2016 / 9 mins

After chatting to a guy online, shy Jamie makes the bold step to meet up with him in person.

The five films will be available to watch online from 16-26 March on the British Council Arts YouTube channel and BFI player.

Jack Graf, Director of ‘Chance’ that was one of the #FiveFilms4Freedom in 2015, said:

“The magic and reach of film had always seemed impressive to me, but never more so than after seeing the effect of 'Chance's inclusion in the pioneering #FiveFilms4Freedom project. With heartfelt emails of thanks and support from so far as Afghanistan, Lebanon and Russia, I realised that film's power and ability to elicit positive change is truly limitless.”

Briony Hanson, the British Council’s Director of Film, said:

“The #FiveFilms4Freedom initiative provides a great opportunity for directors to get a worldwide audience, and for a new audience to appreciate the stories and lives of the LGBT community. This event is about generating openness, empathy and showing solidarity with people in countries who do not have the same freedoms.” 

Tricia Tuttle, Deputy Head of Festivals at the British Film Institute, added:

“BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival programmes to entertain but also to open hearts and minds. Film has a unique ability to help people understand each other and we’re excited to harness that through these wonderful films. And in this year, as we reflect on the momentous occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, we wanted to showcase five British short films. That UK filmmakers have the freedom to tell such a rich variety of stories about LGBT experience, is the legacy of the pioneers and advocates who came before.”

Notes to Editor

Images are available upon request.

For further media information, please contact:  

British Council:

Kristen McNicoll and Peter Hawkins / Kristen.mcnicoll@britishcouncil.org / peter.hawkins@britishcouncil.orgT: +44 (0)207 389 4967 / +44 (0)207 389 3061

BFI Flare:

Chris Lawrance, Publicity Consultant, BFI Flare / Chris@chrislawrance.com/ Mob: 07967 647726

About #FiveFilms4Freedom

#FiveFilms4Freedom runs alongside BFI Flare 2017, the British Film Institute’s LGBT Film Festival. Using the BFI player and the British Council’s global network it promotes five films from each year’s Flare Festival to people all over the world.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications.

Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.

About BFI Flare: London

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival is the UK’s longest running LGBT 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 LGBT 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 Deputy Head of Festivals, Tricia Tuttle and Head of Festivals, Clare Stewart.

Images are available for press use: www.image.net > BFI > Flare 2017 

About the BFI

The BFI is the lead body for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:

  • Connecting audiences to the widest choice of British and World cinema 
  • Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations 
  • Championing emerging and world class film makers in the UK - investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work 
  • Promoting British film and talent to the world  
  • Growing the next generation of film makers and audiences

The BFI is a Government arm’s-length body and distributor of Lottery funds for film. The BFI serves a public role which covers the cultural, creative and economic aspects of film in the UK. It delivers this role:

  • As the UK-wide organisation for film, a charity core funded by Government
  • By providing Lottery and Government funds for film across the UK
  • By working with partners to advance the position of film in the UK.

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

The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Josh Berger CBE.