It’s that exciting time of the year – you know the time that you look forward to every year, when everyone who is anyone in the Lesbian & Gay world checks their calendar, clears their diary and spends hours online (with several devices open in front of them) or hanging on the phone in a desperate bid to get hold of those golden tickets – yes it’s BFI Flare time.
This time of year holds a special place in my heart because back in 2009 and born out of the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (as it was then called) came Southbank Surfing. Starting out as friends hanging out on the sofas at the BFI before the film, then friends hanging out on the sofas after the film, then friends hanging out discussing the films, finally becoming Queer Women Mingling with or without the films. Something so huge (the largest gathering of Lesbians in London; if not the UK!) that we had to leave our beloved sofas and our Thames-side venue and move to somewhere larger. But I always head back for the films; to soak up the atmosphere and to reminisce.
The thing I love about BFI Flare is that all of gay London descents on the BFI at the Southbank (hence the name Southbank Surfing) for one of the largest LGBTQ+ film festivals in the world. It’s a great way to see a plethora of gay films in one place and see even more lesbians in one place (although our SBS numbers aren’t far off!)
You bump into women you haven’t seen in years. Women who you hoped you would never see again and women you won’t ever see again until this time next year!
It’s a great social get together and you get to watch films too! I remember my first foray to the Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (as it was known then) and my first film on the closing Gala night: ‘The Itty Bitty Titty Committee’. Friends and I managed to sneak into the official after party, where we desperately tried to accost Daniela Sea (Max from The L Word). Lets just say that we didn’t get very far with that endeavour, but thoroughly enjoyed the free flowing wine and canapés!
The film festival is always a fun filled week – with great films and good films and not so good films and awful films but still the place to be and the place to be seen. Maybe I’ll even see you there.