Pin It
Pxssy Palace Directed by Laura Kirwan Ashman
Still from Pxssy PalaceDirected by Laura Kirwan Ashman

5 queer short films to watch from home during self-quarantine

BFI Flare is cancelled, but you can still watch some of the best short films from the LGBTQ+ film festival

Times of isolation can be particularly tough for queer people, stuck at home with families that do not accept us, say, or lacking the sense of community, self-expression, or safe space we get from the queer places we usually go to when we’re not in quarantine. BFI Flare, the UK’s biggest LGBTQ+ film festival is one of these places, and vitally one that does not revolve solely around a bar or club situation (although, it usually involves a good little dose of that too).

Like a lot of cultural events, this year’s festival, which was slated for March 18 to 29 at BFI Southbank in London, and was to be the 34th edition, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, the BFI has put most of the films from the programme online, so you can watch them on BFI Player from the comfort of your bed.

Highlights from the festival include a screening of Jamie Patterson’s sophomore feature film Justine, starring Tallulah Haddon. There’s also My Fiona, the Australian director Kelly Walker’s study of loss in lesbian relationships. There was also a screening of And Then We Danced, the acclaimed and recent queer Georgian drama set within the world of a Tbilisi dance troupe.

BFI Flare was also going to throw a party to celebrate the 20th birthday of the UK’s only indie queer film distributor, Peccadillo Pictures, which has now been postponed. The good news is you can watch a bunch of Peccadillo’s films on BFI Player, or rent them on the PeccaPics website, from Desiree Akhavan’s debut Appropriate Behavior to Argentinian intersex drama XXY, to Stranger By The Lake, a mystery-thriller set in a gay cruising ground in Southern France. 

Below, we’ve featured five short queer films from this year’s Flare, free to watch at home. 


Jason Bradbury’s engrossing short film was due to screen at BFI Flare alongside Something in the Closet (below) as part of the UK shorts programme “Go Through It”, championing home-grown queer filmmaking talent. Set on the Isle of Wight, where Bradbury grew up, it fragments his own teenage video diaries with the fictional story of 15-year-old Tommy, who explores his sexuality online in the early 2000s. 

My Sweet Prince is about my formative years in the early days of the internet when programs like MSN Messenger were a life-line for queer teens around the world,” says Bradbury. “The whole team was so excited to share the film with audiences at BFI Flare, but maybe now it will reach even more people through BFI Player – it is after all about connecting online, something we’re all relying on more as we come to terms with the reality of self-isolation.”

You can watch the trailer for My Sweet Prince below, and the full film is available on BFI Player.


This short UK documentary from Laura Kirwan-Ashman, co-founder of the female film collective Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah, gives a glimpse into London-based QTIPOC collective, club night, and Dazed100 alumn Pxssy Palace. 

“I made PXSSY PALACE because the space they’ve created and the community it is home to has been so personally important to me, so I wanted to shine a light on the amazing people who work so hard to make it happen,” says Kirwan-Ashman. “I wanted to capture those feelings of joy and love and support that Pxssy Palace represents, which is why I shot it more like a music video rather than a documentary.”

Pxssy Palace has rightly (given the pandemic) been put on hold for the foreseeable future, the director explains, but adds that “it’s really tough on those who run it and the people it makes space for, many of which may currently be stuck at home with families and people they can’t be their authentic selves with”.


“I shouldn’t feel held to a higher standard of masculinity because I’m trans than I would hold any cis man.” So goes Ev, a film about standards of masculinity, says director Sid Strickland. It explores the way femininity has been policed in subject Ev’s adolescence, as well as how, by rejecting binary gender codes, Ev now embraces make-up as part of their trans masculine and nonbinary identity. “Ev started out experimenting with make-up on YouTube. Growing up in the US they are now completing a PhD in trans healthcare at Brunel University, UK and are employed as a research fellow,” Strickland explains. 

The short is the first in a series for Strickland. Named Gendercraft, it will explore the way that intersections of gender and queerness are facilitated by artforms, ranging from queer cabaret to make-up. “Gendercraft focuses on individuals whose craft is innately connected to their gender and whose gender is directly related to their craft,” Strickland summarises. You can watch Ev below.


Something In The Closet first premiered at the 2019 London Film Festival and it has also been selected as one of Five Films for Freedom for BFI Flare and the British Council Film’s digital showcase of LGBTIQ+ themed work by upcoming filmmakers. Nosa Eke is a British writer and director who was also selected as BAFTA new talent. This short film is about “a queer teenager struggling with her sexuality as her desires begin to manifest in unsettling ways” – a kind of pseudo-horror or sci-fi film, playing on the metaphor of “coming out of the closet”. 

“I loved Spielberg films as a kid, like ET, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, those fantastical worlds rooted in realistic characters,” says Eke. “I really wanted to explore making a film that utilises that tone and genre to personify a metaphor and that also starred a queer kid of colour like myself so that it would be personal to me. I’d never really seen it done before.”

She continues: “The subject of the film was important to me because I think coming out is often framed as being about telling other people what’s going on with you but, for me, the more relatable story to tell was how to acknowledge what your body and mind are trying to tell you yourself.”


In 2018, London club XXL came under fire for its discriminatory “FOR MEN WHO WANT MEN” dress code. Dazed contributor Otamere Guobadia (who plays Tam in the film) wrote a fuck you article for Dazed about how this kind of pernicious privileging of narrow masculinity in the gay scene is rooted in misogyny. Taking this as inspiration, short film Pompeii explores casual micro-aggressions within a friendship group before tackling the issues of discrimination, racism, and femme-phobia head-on at the entrance of an XXL-like club. 

“Shot via Instagram Stories over the course of a night out, Pompeii takes a look at how Tam, the loudest, most playfully femme vanguard of a group, is celebrated, loved on, and then gradually made to feel isolated and rejected as the toxic hierarchies of queer nightlife push him to the margins,” say the filmmakers. 

Co-director Harry Lighton adds: “If you think you’re missing tongue-jousting in the club, have a look at Tam’s night out to Pompeii and remember that, sometimes, staying in can be the better of two evils.”