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BFI and British Council announce More Films for Freedom

Fri 17th Jul 2020

The BFI NETWORK, with the British Council and BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, today announce the return of More Films for Freedom. Applications are open for the unique short film programme which will commission three new shorts, awarding up to £20,000 each, from cross-cultural teams exploring LGBTIQ+ stories. Deadline: 16 August 2020.

With National Lottery funding, More Films for Freedom will support the production of urgent, creative collaborations between filmmakers from the African continent and the Middle East, and the UK. It is seeking films that explore LGBTIQ+ intersectionality, global human rights, and diaspora identity. The three completed films will be eligible to screen at next year’s BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival.

This programme builds on the successful Five Films for Freedom digital campaign, which originated in 2015 as a partnership between BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and the British Council, and which has generated views from over 14 million people in over 200 countries and principalities. In previous editions, a gap was found in projects and stories originating in countries within the African continent and the Middle East, and More Films for Freedom was developed in response to encourage projects from UK-based LGBTIQ+ filmmakers, working with filmmakers/storytellers from countries in these regions.

In the 2019 pilot, films came from dynamic partnerships formed between UK and Syrian, Palestinian and South African filmmakers. All three resulting films were selected to premiere at BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival in March, which had to pivot to an abbreviated virtual version due to COVID-19, but now the films are being released digitally over the summer and all three can be viewed on BFI Player: and on the British Council’s Arts YouTube channel:

More Films for Freedom is designed to boost the career development, international networks and profiles of the filmmakers it supports. Each team applying must include a UK-based producer and may include further UK participants amongst its writer and director, providing there is also a genuine international link within the team. Stimulating international collaborations between UK filmmakers and counterparts in or from the Middle East and African continent, the project supports both BFI’s and British Council’s international strategic aims of enabling independent UK producers to pursue international partnerships.

Jessica Loveland, Head of BFI NETWORK, said: “We are thrilled to be opening More Films for Freedom again with the British Council and BFI Flare. It provides a fantastic development opportunity for the selected LGBTIQ+ filmmaking teams, and has the potential to lay solid foundations for long term and fruitful international, creative relationships. The consistent high standard of work produced through this programme to date, has attracted a growing and engaged global audience, which is hugely important. And I have no doubt that the standard will be just as high this year.”

Briony Hanson, Director Film, British Council, said: “The beauty of More Films for Freedom is that it allows us to connect UK filmmakers with those in under-represented regions of the Middle East and Africa to tell their LGBTIQ+ stories. We’re delighted to be bringing it back to continue this all-important conversation and forge lasting cross-cultural creative partnerships in the process.”

Deadline for applications is 11.59PM, Sunday 16 August 2020.

Further details on the call for submissions can be found here: