If you're passionate about supporting and promoting equality; believe culture is the strongest way to bring people together; and work in over 100 countries, I guess creating the world's biggest online LGBT film festival is the inevitable result. And so it was that the British Council, the UK's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, joined forces with the British Film Institute to create fiveFilms4freedom.
fiveFilms4freedom is about showcasing some of our finest short film makers to help celebrate love and diversity through one of the world's most powerful and accessible cultural forms: film.
This year alongside our five films we're celebrating people who battle every day to promote equality. We're publishing our first fiveFilms4freedom Global List - 33 inspiring people we should all know about.
Earlier this year we had a global public campaign to help us find people who were using culture to promote freedom and equality, who are provoking debate, and who are sometimes risking their lives to promote the rights of LGBT people in their communities, societies and countries. Hundreds of thousands of people saw the campaign and they helped us create this first Global List of LGBT influencers.
It's an incredible collection of 22 men and 11 women (we'll do better on this next time) from 23 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa; the Middle East; Europe, Russia, and Azerbaijan; and, Australia and the US.
Amongst others, we're celebrating: Geng Le - China's leading gay business man who set up Blued a gay dating app with 27 million subscribers; Mahmoud Hassino who created Syria's first online LGBT magazine, Mawaleh; Tiffany Mugo who set up Holaa! a site for gay African women; Bilge Tas the director and co-founder of Pink Life Queer Fest in Ankara; award-winning director Joko Anwar one of Indonesia's leading LGBT voices; and Pepe Onziema whose work with Sexual Minorities Uganda has twice lead to his arrest.
Millions of gay people continue to live in places that outlaw same-sex relationships and stigmatise them. The people on our Global List are challenging this. Every day they're challenging laws and beliefs, using culture to create safe spaces and inclusive visions of their societies and connecting with people around the world.
The British Council and the British Film Institute set up fiveFilms4freedom because we believe in this role of culture to create positive change. So alongside being inspired by our List, please watch one of our five films. This year's films are from Brazil, Spain, the Philippines and the UK and Ireland. For the second year we haven't been able to find an LGBT short-film from an African film-maker. We want to fix this and we're hoping to launch a talent fund for LGBT film-makers in challenging places to complete their first film. We're raising money for this now.
fiveFilms4freedom is available online at www.britishcouncil.org from 17 - 27 March.
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