Looking back at the 35-year design evolution of BFI Flare Festival

For a landmark edition of Europe’s biggest LGBTQIA+ film festival, we speak to the BFI’s Darren Wood about the event’s creative heritage and Studio Moross' Anna Czuż about this year’s identity.

17 March 2021

BFI Flare began life as a small part of the National Film Theatre programme in 1986 under the title Gay’s Own Pictures, and thanks to its success, it's grown to become a staple of the institute’s event calendar. Now Europe’s biggest LGBTQIA+ film festival and one of the world’s most significant queer film events, BFI Flare will this year, in its 35th edition, screen premieres of the best new LGBTQIA+ cinema from around the world among an exciting programme of 26 feature films plus a variety of shorts.

The festival’s visual identity over the past 35 years has gone from being created by the BFI in-house design team to external creative agencies, Studio Moross taking the mantle for the past five. Each year the task has been to produce artworks “that speak to the preoccupations of the moment,” Darren Wood, head of brand and creative for BFI, tells It’s Nice That. “Each year we have taken the temperature of the world and attempted to inject a bit of that zeitgeist into our creative. When we felt that the time was ripe for protest, we reflected that in icons reminiscent of 80s Section 28 demonstrations (31st edition, 2017). When we wanted to articulate the disparate groups that make up the LGBTQIA+ community, we reached into the world of fanzines (32nd edition, 2018). When we felt that we needed to present BFI Flare as a safe space for everyone, we offered a soft and squishy title treatment to take comfort from (34th edition, 2020). And sometimes you just want to explode people’s expectations by blowing up a snow globe (26th edition, 2012) or share a portrait of a particularly beautiful cat (18th edition, 2004).”

For its work on the festival, Studio Moross has brought its own viewpoints on LGBTQIA+ issues, Wood says, and “helped us to create really dynamic and compelling artworks”. Each year the studio has returned with a fresh and relevant concept for the festival identity reflective of the current climate, and this year in particular it was important to address the LGBTQIA+ community’s place in the global uncertainty. “In a year that has been extremely challenging, particularly for people who already feel marginalised, we wanted our artwork to feel like a celebratory emergence,” Wood explains “like a beautiful object was moving from chaos into light”.


Copyright © BFI, 2020

Studio Moross' Anna Czuż describes the studio’s creative approach for 2021’s identity as exploring “the navigation of obstacles with resilience and hope – both as individuals and as a community.” The artwork depicts a glowing orb prising its way through a grid of lines or bars. Czuż worked on design and art direction for the campaign with Leio Kirtley (art direction and motion), Santiago Avila (design and motion) and Ashleigh Evans (production), with Aries Moross as creative director. Overall it looked to visualise the feeling of “finding joy in taming chaos, being faithful in the process, learning through experience, transitioning to a safe space where one's feeling strong, comfortable and empowered,” Czuż says.

This idea of “digestion and rebirth” is not only depicted in the imagery but also represented in the campaign’s colours and textures, Czuż says, using an iridescent, warm colour palette inspired by the Mother of pearl, also known as Nacre – the organic material with a fractured surface of which pearls are shaped. “Nacre formation is not fully understood, it is strong and resilient, yet able to develop fine, precious and multicolour objects of beauty,” the designer adds.

With the festival going online only this year as most audiences will be enjoying it from home, the studio also wanted to prioritise the audio element of the identity to make it more immersive. For the soundscape Studio Moross collaborated with music producer, animator and frequent collaborator of the studio T.R. Bennett, who interpreted the identity’s story in music.

BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival starts today and takes place until 28 March 2021, UK-wide via BFI Player. Tickets are available now. There is also a free-to-access shorts programme including Five Films For Freedom, selected by BFI Flare in partnership with The British Council. The festival is programmed by Jay Bernard, Michael Blyth, Zorian Clayton, Brian Robinson, Emma Smart and guest programmer Tara Brown, led by Festivals Director, Tricia Tuttle.

GalleryCopyright © BFI Flare



























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Studio Moross: BFI Flare 2021 (Copyright © BFI, 2021)

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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