From 19 to 29 March fiveFilms4freedom becomes the first digital, global LGBT film festival. Five short films from BFI Flare, the UK's leading LGBT Film Festival, will be available to audiences around the world for the first time through BFI player, the British Film Institute's online video service. As well as giving people in the UK and around the world the chance to experience new LGBT films and filmmakers, on Wednesday 25 March fivefilms4freedom is asking all of us to take a moment to watch a movie and show that love is a basic human right.
fiveFilms4freedom is about connecting millions of people through culture - and sharing great British and international LGBT cinema from the British Film Institute. It's about the power of film and story-telling to highlight the changes that societies are going through and the changes yet to come. It's also about love. The stories we've selected are all full of it: unrequited, unformed, young, older, hidden and overt; not to mention love for bicycles (True Wheel, Director Nora Mandray's 2015 documentary, focuses on Fender Bender, an inspirational bicycle workshop for queer, transgender and women's communities in Detroit).
The British Council is promoting fiveFilms4freedom in more than 70 countries: in China, India, Ukraine parts of the Middle East, across Europe and the Americas meaning the films can potentially reach more than fifty percent of the world's population. We're working with partners like Stonewall, Britain's leading LGBT NGO, the UN Free and Equal Campaign and the International Day Against Homophobia to reach even more people.
We know that millions of LGBT people live in countries that continue to outlaw same-sex relationships and prosecute people because of who they love. Five countries make it a capital offence and people are in prison today for violating these laws. British Ambassadors and Embassies are working with the UN, EU and Commonwealth institutions to lobby for change. Neither the British Council nor the British Film Institute are campaigning organisations but we both believe in the power of film and culture to promote positive social change. fiveFilms4freedom is a celebration of the UK's cutting-edge film industry and of BFI Flare's pioneering role in promoting gay rights around the world supporting freedom and equality everywhere.
I hope we'll see people checking out new LGBT cinema and that in the UK, and around the world, people who are starting the journey to find out whoever they are will feel a little more connected to the millions of people who have. On Wednesday 25 March, #FiveFilms4Freedom is a 24-hour campaign asking people everywhere to watch one of the films together over the course of one single day. I recommend Chance, Jake Graf's self-funded short-film which premieres at BFI Flare. It's about overcoming loneliness and what can happen when you take up a chance encounter or opportunity - something we might all do a little more of.
fiveFilms4freedom is screening 5 movies for 10 days from 19 - 29 March