The BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival has been canceled days before it was set to launch in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Set to open on Wednesday and run until March 29 at London’s BFI Southbank, BFI Flare is one of the world’s leading LGBTIQ+ festivals. This year’s event was due to present more than 50 features, 85 shorts and a wide range of special events and guest appearances.
The festival was set to open with the world premiere of Matt Fifer and Kieran Mulcare’s feature debut “Cicada,” and to close with the U.K. premiere of theatre director Jessica Swale’s “Summerland,” starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
The BFI said that it had canceled BFI Flare “with heavy hearts” due to the scale and complexity of running a large international film festival with filmmakers set to travel from across the world as the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly evolves.
Explaining why it had pulled the plug on this year’s edition so close to the launch deadline, the BFI Flare said in a statement on its website that: “We were hoping that we could continue with Flare as planned but the situation in regard to Covid-19 has escalated rapidly and we have been reviewing this on a daily basis. We now feel that, despite this being short notice, this is the right decision in such an unprecedented situation.”
BFI Flare added that rescheduling will be ‘impossible’ given the busy annual schedule of its base at BFI Southbank.
Instead, it said it would look to share some elements of BFI Flare digitally via the BFI Player streaming platform.
“BFI Flare is a very special and long-standing festival with a loyal and dedicated following and we realise that this is a very disappointing situation for audiences, our staff and festival teams and all of the incredibly talented and passionate filmmakers involved,” said BFI Flare in a statement.
The BFI added that its BFI Southbank centre remains open and operational, unless advice from the Government and Public Health England changes.