BFI announces opening night film of BFI Flare

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Fri 8th Feb 2019


The BFI is thrilled to announce that the 33rd edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival (21st - 31st March at BFI Southbank) will open with the UK premiere of Chanya Button’s VITA & VIRGINIA at BFI Southbank.

VITA & VIRGINIA is the true story of the passionate relationship between literary trailblazer Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki), and the enigmatic aristocrat Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton). The film tells the story of the birth of the novel their intoxicating encounters inspired; Woolf’s bold experiment in art and androgyny, ‘Orlando’.

When their paths cross, the magnetic Vita decides the beguiling, stubborn and gifted Virginia will be her next conquest, no matter the cost. The film is a celebration of their unconventional bond; a vivid exploration of gender, sexuality, creativity and passion. VITA & VIRGINIA is a love story, told in a contemporary style, about two women - two writers - who smashed through social barriers to find solace in their forbidden connection.

VITA & VIRGINIA is written (screenplay) by Chanya Button and adapted from Dame Eileen Atkins’ play of the same name. With a supporting cast that includes Isabella Rossellini, Rupert Penry-Jones and Peter Ferdinando, VITA & VIRGINIA was shot in Dublin and produced by Evangelo Kioussis and Katie Holly. The film will open in the UK on 12 July 2019 through Thunderbird Releasing.

The Festival is also delighted to confirm that the Pureland Foundation will return as Main Supporter of BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival. The second in their three-year commitment to the Festival, this continues a significant philanthropic contribution from the Foundation, providing vital support for the Festival and bolstering its success.

Chanya Button, Director and Screenwriter, VITA & VIRGINIA says: “I’m beyond thrilled that VITA & VIRGINIA will be opening BFI Flare. Tricia Tuttle’s support has been invaluable, and I’m so grateful that this film that celebrates love and creativity in all its forms will have a platform at such a vivid and forward thinking festival. ”

Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s Senior Programmer says: “With the exquisite VITA & VIRGINIA, director Chanya Button has crafted a rich and sensuous account of the relationship between two extraordinary women. Boasting superb performances by Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki in the title roles, Button's refreshingly feminist period piece offers a bold and contemporary exploration of sexual fluidity, gender and literature itself, and we can't wait to share it with BFI Flare audiences.”

Tricia Tuttle, Director, BFI Festivals says: “We’re delighted to have such a strong new British film opening BFI Flare – and from a wonderfully talented female filmmaker to boot! BFI Flare goes from strength to strength, which is the result of increased investment in LGBTQ+ filmmaking globally, and also a reflection of support from key partners. This is particularly true of our Main Supporter, The Pureland Foundation who share our belief that BFI Flare has a very real positive social and cultural benefit.”

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