MOREFilms4Freedom grant reveals first three commissioned LGBTQ+ shorts

BFI Flare, the British Council and BFI NETWORK have partnered to commission three news shorts exploring LGBTQ+ intersectionality, global human rights and diaspora identity, under the moniker of #MOREFilms4Freedom.

Expanding on the foundations set by the #FiveFilms4Freedom campaign, which started in 2015 and annually shares a hand-picked selection of five LGBTQ+ themed short films online, this new grant is funding three short films after identifying a gap in the market – projects and stories originating in countries within the African continent and the Middle East.

A call for applications was published earlier in 2019 and today, the three shorts picked for development have just been announced on the British Council’s blog:
  • Let My Body Speak // dir. Madonna Adib: Our bodies store memories. The body does not forget. A childhood in Damascus, OCD, the revolution, falling in love with a woman. My body remembers, it keeps the trauma. And after all the losses, I had to start listening to my body.
  • Nowhere // dir. Christopher Manning: A young Palestinian woman crosses the Israeli border illegally to find her long-lost brother, who she hopes will be her ticket to a new life far from the West Bank. When she discovers the truth behind his exiled existence, her dreams of a happy reunion are shattered, and she must face her next steps alone.
  • The Men Who Speak Gayle // dir. Andrew Brukman: Young drag performer Nathan is one of the last people to speak Gayle – a secret language the gay community were forced to invent during Apartheid. He finds out about Louis, an original Gayle speaker living in a conservative desert town in South Africa and wants to put on a performance with him. These men, two generations apart and from different cultural and racial backgrounds have never met – and have no idea how the town will react.

Eager to find out more, we reached out to Executive Producer Loran Dunn – whose work we’ve featured three times on S/W with The Pig Child, Lambing Season and Marina and Adrienne – and asked her to provide some insight on the project, what funding specifically aimed at LGBTQ+ stories means to her and what we can expect from the films:

Funds for short film feel rare nowadays, what does it mean to have a fund like this solely dedicated to LGBTQ+ short film

It’s always fun to make shorts, but I think this fund is a bit special – it’s been specifically designed to encourage and showcase stories from the Middle East, and Africa. What this will mean is an exceptionally exciting opportunity for UK Filmmakers to collaborate with filmmakers from continents where LGBTQ+ equalities are still developing, and create films that are going to make a real impact to real people across the world.

“I really believe that this is how change in society is made”

We have incredible privilege as filmmakers to change thought, empower, educate and inspire with our work, and I really believe that this is how change in society is made, by exercising our power as filmmakers to normalise and represent. So it means a huge amount to have a fund solely dedicated to LGBTQ+ short film, and I don’t exaggerate when I say having the chance to see yourself and people like you on screen can be a totally transformative and life changing experience for many people.

What attracted you to the three chosen shorts and what can audience expect from them?

The films we’ve chosen are all very different in form and tone, but share a common theme in that they give a unique insight and perspective to stories and experiences very rarely seen on screen. They’re brave, and I think offer something quite different to the LGBTQ+ stories we’re used to seeing. We were also very excited about the filmmakers themselves, and were excited to hear the stories told with their unique voices, we’re confident they will create some very unique and memorable pieces of work.

“You’re going to see the complexities of human life, family and community”

In terms of what to expect – well, you’re going to get access to places you might never see on screen, and might never travel too, you’re going to meet characters that fill you with warmth, and also sorrow, and you’re going to see the complexities of human life, family and community.

You’re going to feel emotional, but also joyous watching these films – and you’re going to learn a lot!