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The free-to-access More Films for Freedom debuts on 15 June with three short films exploring LGBTIQ+ stories commissioned by the British Council, BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and BFI NETWORK.

The three films are cross-cultural collaborations between UK-based LGBTIQ+ filmmakers and storytellers from countries in Africa and the Middle East. They will stream free of charge for a month each on the British Council’s Arts YouTube channel and on BFI Player to coincide with Pride. 

More Films for Freedom opens with director Christopher Manning’s Nowhere, followed by Andrew Brukman’s The Men Who Speak Gayle and Madonna Adib’s Let My Body Speak.

Nowhere, dir. Christopher Manning

The initiative builds on Five Films for Freedom: the world’s widest-reaching LGBTIQ+ online film campaign, run by the British Council and BFI. Since its 2015 launch this annual digital screening has been viewed by more than 14 million people in at least 200 countries, including places where homosexuality remains illegal. 

More Films for Freedom responds to a gap in projects and stories originating from Africa and the Middle East.

Let My Body Speak, dir Madonna Adib

The three debut films have been developed separately by filmmakers in the UK working independently with Palestinian, South African and Syrian filmmakers. They explore compelling LGBTIQ+ realities amidst themes of gender, freedom and global human rights:

  • Nowhere, streaming 15 June – 14 July: Written and directed by award-winning Christopher Manning, this short drama tells the story of a young Palestinian woman who crosses the Israeli border to find her long-lost brother.  
  • The Men Who Speak Gayle, streaming 15 July – 14 August: Young drag performer Nathan and retired airline steward Louis bond through Gayle, a secret language created by the gay community during Apartheid South Africa, in this documentary by Andrew Brukman.
  • Let My Body Speak, streaming 15 August – 14 September: Syrian refugee Madonna Adib writes and directs this personal account of the experiences her body stores – from her childhood in Damascus, battling OCD, witnessing the Syrian revolution, and falling in love with a woman. 

The teams behind each film were selected for their uniquely collaborative international approach to filmmaking and, as part of the commission, worked with BFI Vision awardee Loran Dunn as Executive Producer.

The Men Who Speak Gayle, dir Andrew Brukman

Briony Hanson, Director Film, British Council, said: “Our More Films for Freedom campaign is so special because it allows us to connect UK filmmakers and those in under-represented regions of the Middle East and Africa to tell their LGBTIQ+ stories.

“With lots of Pride events around the world cancelled this year due to Covid-19, what better way to bring global LGBTIQ+ communities together than through the power of film.”

Michael Blyth, Senior Programmer, BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, adds: “For the past six years, Five Films for Freedom has allowed BFI Flare to spread our message of love and hope by sharing films with millions of people across the world.

“With More Films for Freedom, we have had an incredible opportunity expand on that project, helping filmmakers to create powerful new stories, confronting issues around human rights and social change which have always been such an essential part of what we do at the Festival.”

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