Poster for Five Films For Freedom, on a purple background, with teal and orange cards containing event title and dates
Thursday 17 March 2022
  • British Council launches 8th edition of world’s largest LGBTQIA+ digital campaign in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival
  • Five short films from China, Croatia, India, Panama and the UK
  • The films this year come with Filipino subtitles
  • In the Philippines, we have partnered with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) to promote the campaign and films

Five Films For Freedom, the world’s widest LGBTQIA+ digital campaign brings five new LGBTQI films from China, Croatia, India, Panama and the UK, to audiences across the world.

In this eighth year, the film programme continues the British Council’s partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, with the short films available across the British Council’s global digital networks for free from 16 to 27 March to coincide with the festival. 

The programme of films features works by award-winning filmmakers selected by BFI Flare, exploring themes including immigration, intimacy and isolation. It includes British-Nigerian Director Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor, whose short film For Love focuses on illegal immigrant Nkechi and the unique challenges she faces due to her sexual identity.

Also featured is Croatian comic artist and animation director Marko Dješka’s animated film All Those Sensations In My Belly, following the story of trans girl Matia’s transition and her quest for love; while Indian director Arun Fulura’s film Sunday examines the desire and loneliness of a middle aged man on his weekly visit to the barbers.

Panamanian Director Judith Corro brings us her first film as both scriptwriter and director, Birthday Boy (Vuelta al Sol), a story about parents denying their son’s identity as a young trans man, and Chinese Director Hao Zhou delivers Frozen Out, an experimental short film that combines scenes from rural Iowa and rural China to explore anxiety, dislocation and self-exile.

For the first time since the Five Films For Freedom started, audience can watch the films this year with Filipino subtitles. 

As in the last two years, the British Council has partnered with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), a strong supporter of films championing gender equality and anti-discrimination, to promote the digital campaign. 

Global audiences are encouraged to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities around the world where freedom and equal rights are limited by watching the films via the British Council Arts YouTube channel.  

Since 2015 and with the programmes live for less than 80 days, Five Films For Freedom films have been viewed 17 million times by people in over 200 countries and principalities, including all parts of the world where homosexuality is criminalised, and all countries where the death penalty is in place. 

Commenting on the 2022 Five Films For Freedom programme the British Council’s Director of Film, Briony Hanson, said: 

‘This year’s films represent a selection of exciting voices from across the world, telling stories about the queer experience that are still rarely seen in many places. As LGBTQIA+ people across the world continue to fight for basic rights, #FiveFilmsForFreedom is as important as ever, driving home the message that love is a human right, no matter how we identify or where we are. We can’t wait for a global audience to enjoy them.’

Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s Senior Programmer said: 

‘Five Films For Freedom is an essential moment in the global queer film calendar, uniting people across the world by giving free access to an incredible selection of shorts films. Not everyone has the same level of access to LGBTQIA+ film and images as we do in the UK, and this opportunity to bring queer work to a millions of people remains as vital and meaningful as ever.’

Watch the Five Films for Freedom campaign trailer:

Share the films more widely using the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom, in recognition of the fact that Love is a Human Right.

Five Films For Freedom continues the British Council’s work building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching.   

All films will be available to view from 16 to 27 March 2022 via the British Council Arts YouTube channel. To find out more visit:


Five Films For Freedom programme 2022:

  • All Those Sensations In My Belly (Croatia/ Dir Marko Djeska/13 mins): While transitioning from male to female gender, Matia struggles with finding a genuine intimate relationship with a heterosexual man.
  • Frozen Out (China/Dir Hao Zhou/ 5 mins): An immigrant retreats to frozen prairies and forests, hoping to escape the anxieties of dislocation and find meaning in an endless expanse. Delivered as a letter to the protagonist’s sister in rural China, the film meditates on identity, self-exile, home and ties to family.
  • Sunday (India/Dir Arun Fulura/ 10 mins): When the middle-aged Kamble makes his weekly visit to the neighbourhood barber shop, it's not just for a shave. He can't wait to be touched by Jaan, the new barber-boy he has a crush on. It's the highlight of his otherwise dull existence as a married man leading a dual life in a society that resists homosexuality.
  • Birthday Boy (Vuelta al Sol) (Panama/ Dir Judith Corro/ 7 mins): It’s César's birthday and his parents expect him to wear clothes that make César feel uncomfortable. Now he has to make a decision – continue to please his family's expectations or be true to his identity as a trans man.
  • For Love (UK/ Dir Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor/ 12 mins): Illegal immigrant, Nkechi, lives happily in the shadows with her partner Martha. But when immigration officers turn up unexpectedly, the pair have to make difficult decisions about their future together.  

About the Directors 

  • Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK when she was 16. In 2016 she produced Joseph A Adesunloye’s feature White Colour Black, which premiered at the BFI London Film Festival. In 2020, Joy went on to produce Rapman’s debut feature Blue Story, was selected for the BFI Flare x BAFTA Crewmentorship programme and was identified as both a Screen International Star of Tomorrow and a BAFTA Breakthrough participant. In 2021 she completed Aml Ameen’s Boxing Day, her third feature as producer.  Having produced both shorts and features, For Love, made with BBC Film, is the first short film that she has written and directed.
  • Marko Dješka is an animation director, scriptwriter and comic book artist. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Animated Film and New Media Department. His student films SLAUGHTERED (2010) and THE SON OF SATAN (2012), as well as his first professional film THE CITY OF GHOSTS (2016) have been awarded at numerous film festivals.
  • Arun Fulara is a writer and filmmaker based out of Mumbai, India. His debut short, SUNDAY, travelled widely to world festivals including London India Film Festival, Shorts Mexico, Inside Out Toronto and BISFF Bengaluru. Arun won the prestigious Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Filmmaker for Sunday at Kashish MIQFF in 2020. He’s previously worked as an assistant on award winning films like Ajji & Bhonsle with acclaimed filmmaker Devashish Makhija.
  • Judith Corro is a Panamanian cultural manager, storyteller, communicator and passionate multi-tasker. She graduated in Writing and Psychology from Loyola University New Orleans, with a special interest in scripwriting and gender issues. She currently works as Communications Chief in the NGO sector, and has created several published projects focusing on gender, identity, and community. The short Birthday Boy is her first cinematographic work (and hopefully not her last) as both scriptwriter and director.
  • Hao Zhou is a filmmaker originally from rural China and now based in the US Midwest. Zhou’s work centres on marginalized voices and less-seen spaces, with a focus on LGBTQ+ themes. An alum of both Cinéfondation Résidence and Berlinale Talents, Zhou has directed an indie feature, The Night, which premiered at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. Most recently Zhou’s work has been supported by Art With Impact and the Iowa Arts Council/Produce Iowa. In 2021, Zhou’s short film Frozen Out won a Gold Medal at the 48th Student Academy Awards. 

About Five Films For Freedom

Five Films For Freedom is a global, online short film programme in support of LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) rights, staged in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival. The 2022 edition runs from 16 to 27 March.

Every year we invite audiences everywhere to watch the five films online in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities in places where freedom and equal rights are limited, and to spread the word using the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom.

About BFI Flare

BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival is the UK’s longest running queer film event. It began in 1986 as Gay’s Own Pictures. By its 3rd edition it was tagged the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and since then has grown to become the largest LGBTQIA+ film event in the UK, and its most anticipated. The Festival changed its name to BFI Flare in 2014 to reflect the increasing diversity of its films, filmmakers and audience. The festival is programmed by Grace Barber-Plentie, Jay Bernard, Michael Blyth, Zorian Clayton, Brian Robinson and Emma Smart, led by Festivals Director, Tricia Tuttle. 

The 2021 edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival was presented online with 26 virtual feature premieres and 38 free shorts screened from 23 countries on BFI Player. In a continued partnership between BFI Flare and British Council, the seventh edition of the global campaign #FiveFilmsForFreedom saw worldwide audiences of 1.7 million viewers engage with the five featured short films online.

The 2022 edition runs from 16 to 27 March  

About the BFI

We are a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor, and the UK’s lead organisation for film and the moving image. 

Our mission is:

  • to support creativity and actively seek out the next generation of UK storytellers
  • to grow and care for the BFI National Archive, the world’s largest film and television archive
  • to offer the widest range of UK and international moving image culture through our programmes and festivals - delivered online and in venue
  • to use our knowledge to educate and deepen public appreciation and understanding
  • to work with Government and industry to ensure the continued growth of the UK’s screen industries

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. 

The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Tim Richards.

Notes to Editor

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. In 2019-2020 we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall, including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 14.5 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

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