At this year’s BFI Flare, in addition to our usual treasure trove of films, premieres, events, DJ nights and general queer deliciousness, we are doing something we’ve never done before. Over the first four days of the festival, we will be presenting Flare Expanded – a selection of immersive art and virtual reality works from boundary-pushing LGBTQIA+ artists, working across emerging technologies.

One of the installations that you can see this year is Antonia Forster’s LGBTQ+ VR Museum, a virtual space that contains 3D scans of personal artefacts chosen by queer people and accompanied by their stories, in their own words. It’s a beautiful, moving piece, and one which reminds me of Flare itself: not a museum of brick and mortar, but a celebration that is no less real and meaningful for it being temporary.

Flare is a joyous flash in the dark, ephemeral but electric, an immersive alternate reality to see a world in which our histories and legacies are truly valued. Each spring we look forward to its return, and to seeing new exhibits, but also adding our own stories to the collection.

So, while you’re at the festival, in between a movie double bill or when you’re queuing at the bar, take a look at the people around you. Maybe even strike up a conversation. For this is our living, breathing, dancing queer museum.

Michael Blyth – Senior Programmer

Grace Barber-Plentie, Jay Bernard, Zorian Clayton, Rhianna Ilube, Wema Mumma, Brian Robinson – Festival Programmers

Ulrich Schrauth – Expanded Programmer