Five Films For Freedom Celebrates 10 Years Of LGBTQIA+ Stories

Five Films for Freedom is the world’s widest-reaching LGBTQIA+ digital campaign, and is bringing five new films to audiences worldwide for free online—including one by Filipino filmmaker, Clister Santos. 

It’s been 10 years since the British Council—UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities—first launched Five Films for Freedom. The digital campaign champions narratives from the LGBTQIA+ community through the medium of film, and shares these stories to audiences around the world. This year, the program returns with a new lineup of engaging films from the Philippines, India, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.

Until March 24, 2024, everyone can dive into the world of LGBTQIA+ cinema from the comfort of their own homes. The British Council has made its five chosen films available online through their British Arts YouTube channel

Five Films for Freedom is part of the British Council’s partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival. The council continues to promote the festival’s short films throughout its global digital networks and BFI Player for free.

“Throughout the ten-year journey of Five Films For Freedom, we’ve been able to reach over 23 million viewers globally with these remarkable films. We take pride in our ongoing commitment to supporting this initiative, which not only sheds light on new narratives but also fosters new connections and understanding,” shares Lotus Postrado, British Council in the Philippines Country Director.

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Celebrating a Multifaceted Community

Five Films for Freedom’s 10th anniversary edition will showcase global LGBTQIA+ stories that resonate with strength and spirit. From the historic defiance of Compton’s 22 in San Francisco to the heartfelt journey of love and understanding in Halfway, the festival sheds light on the multifaceted nature of the community.

This year’s selection, including Little One, Cursive, and The First Kiss, dives deep into themes of family, identity, and the universal quest for acceptance. Little One is a short animated piece from homegrown Filipino filmmaker, Clister Santos

“It is a privilege to showcase the exceptional work of these immensely talented filmmakers to audiences worldwide and we are truly proud to have a Filipino film included in this year’s selection,” adds Postrado. To learn more, below are the five titles in this year’s roster:

Little One by Clister Santos (Philippines – 9 mins)

A pregnant mother, unsure of how to raise a child, arranges an interview with her two gay dads. However, fate intervenes when one of her fathers suffers a heart attack. Her other dad reflects on their family’s history, captured on an old camcorder.

A still from Santos’ “Little One”/Photo from the British Council Arts YouTube Channel

Halfway by Kumar Chheda (India – 14 mins)

A turbulent couple ends up at different entrances of Juhu Beach. This forces them to walk towards each other and meet halfway.

Cursive by Isabel Steubel Johnson (UK – 9 mins)

When a woman on the verge of a breakup gets help from a mysterious stranger to improve her handwriting. Along the way, she finds the inner voice she longed for all along.

A still from Johnson’s “Cursive”/Photo from the British Council Arts YouTube Channel

The First Kiss by Miguel Lafuente (Spain – 9 mins)

Today is a special day for Andi. He is going to Madrid to have his first date with a boy he’s met online.

A still from Lafuente’s “The First Kiss”/Photo from the British Council Arts YouTube Channel

Compton’s 22 by Drew de Pinto (USA – 18 mins)

Three years prior to Stonewall, transgender sex workers and drag queens revolted against police violence at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

A still from de Pinto’s “Compton’s 22″/Photo from the British Council Arts YouTube Channel

Sharing the Love

Audience’s experience of Five Films for Freedom need not end on its respective streaming platforms. Viewers can further amplify these diverse voices by sharing their thoughts and experiences using the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom. 

“We are immensely proud to mark the tenth anniversary of Five Films for Freedom,” shares Briony Hanson, British Council Director of Film. “This platform has not only provided a vital space for LGBTQIA+ stories to be heard but has also fostered a global movement for equality and acceptance. As we celebrate this milestone, we invite audiences everywhere to join us in championing love in all its forms.”

Banner photo from the British Council Arts YouTube Channel.

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