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Cancellation of BFI Flare 2020

It's with heavy hearts that we announce that, because of the scale and complexity of running a large international film festival with filmmakers due to travel from across the world, the BFI has taken the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves.

BFI Flare is a very special and long standing festival with a loyal and dedicated following and we realise that this is a very disappointing situation for audiences, our staff and Festival teams and all of the incredibly talented and passionate filmmakers involved.

We know this decision affects individuals in different ways and we respectfully ask people to please bear with us over the next days as we work through the impacts of cancellation and also look at ways of sharing some elements of BFI Flare digitally.

We would be grateful if you could not contact us individually, we will be in touch with everyone affected as soon possible with further information.

This announcement is regarding BFI Flare programmes and events only. BFI Southbank remains open and operational, unless advice from the Government and Public Health England changes.

BFI Flare Team


Why have you cancelled BFI Flare?
The decision to cancel BFI Flare has been a very difficult one. The rapidly evolving situation regarding the COVID 19 pandemic, both in the UK and world-wide, has made operating an international festival of this scale, with a number of international guests and filmmakers and a series of major events and screenings, very difficult. We are all very disappointed but believe this is the right decision for audiences, staff, guests and filmmakers.

Why so late?
We were hoping that we could continue with Flare as planned but the situation in regard to COVID19 has escalated rapidly and we have been reviewing this on a daily basis. We now feel that, despite this being short notice, this is the right decision in such an unprecedented situation.

Will you hold BFI Flare at a later date?
BFI Flare is held exclusively at BFI Southbank and as we have a scheduled public programme for many months beyond BFI Flare this will make rescheduling impossible. The festival is also programmed around individual film’s releases and schedules factored in which would mean that the programme may have to change to accommodate this (ie some films are due for theatrical release soon after the festival). We will continue to work hard to ensure Flare customers have access to the best LGBTIQ+ content in our year round programme.

Will you be offering refunds for ticket holders?
Given the sad fact that we have had to cancel a festival full of LGBTIQ+ films so many people love, we are working hard behind the scenes and we are hopeful that we will be able to offer an enticing programme digitally via BFI Player so that audience can enjoy BFI Flare at home as an alternative choice. But yes, should ticket holders not wish to take this offer, they will be able to choose a refund instead. Please bear with us and we will be in touch with all ticket holders as soon as we can. Please understand that we do not have capacity to process individual requests and questions in the next few days and would ask for your patience as we work through the complexities of cancelling a Festival of this scale. Please be kind to our box office team who are at the front lines and are as sad as everyone else that we have to cancel!

Can you give us more details about the digital programme?
We are still working out the details. Please bear with us over the next few days as we confirm this and reach out directly to affected customers.

Will you be closing BFI Southbank?
At present we are following UK Government and Public Health England guidance and keeping the venue open to the public. We will be making further announcements about any changes to this if the guidance changes. BFI Southbank Reuben Library and Mediatheque will remain open as usual alongside the BFI Shop, BFI Riverfront and BFI Bar and Kitchen.

What are you doing about public health and safety at BFI Southbank during this COVID-19 pandemic?
In accordance with Government advice we are asking all our staff and visitors to follow the current COVID-19 guidelines including:

  • self-isolating (working from home and avoiding our venues) if they show any symptoms of COVID-19
  • encouraging regular hand washing
  • having readily available hand sanitizing gels and ensuring that our facilities can accommodate all of these

Is it safe to attend a cinema screening?
At present, there is no ban on public gatherings in the UK and most cultural venues, like the BFI Southbank, remain open for visitors. We would urge people to continue to monitor Public Health England and Government advice around this. The BFI is closely monitoring this advice and will respond to any changes immediately, including informing our visitors and customers.

Will Five Films For Freedom still be going ahead?
We are very pleased that the successful creative partnership between British Council and BFI Flare, Five Films For Freedom, the world’s largest LGBTIQ+ digital campaign, will still be made available on the British Council’s Arts YouTube channel, free of charge, from 18-29 March 2020.

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