Interview with Emma Smart - lesbian programmer at BFI Flare

BFI Flare is one of our favourite things on the calendar. I mean literally hundreds of women pretty much move into the Southbank for 10 days. In addition to this, there is a mass of lesbian film content available to watch. These two things are quite rare so when they come together, it is lesbian Christmas for sure!

We took a bit of time to find out more about one of the programmers, who has been with the festival for many, many years to find out about the festival behind the scenes. What happens outside the 10 day festival, how many films get entered. You know that kind of thing.

Read our interview with Emma below:

Q: What is your role on the programming team?  

I mostly have responsibility for the main lesbian programme of the festival, so I’ll be researching and watching lesbian/bisexual content, whether that be in feature, short or documentary fields. But that doesn’t mean I solely programme lesbian films, if there is a film that I love that doesn’t necessarily fall under my programming remit, I can programme it, I just might have to arm wrestle another of the programming team for it!

Q: You now also run events as well as programming duties, how do you decide what to put on given the huge diversity of the lgbt community?

It’s precisely because there is a huge diversity in the LGBT community that has meant our events programme has grown each year, so we can cater to as diverse an audience as possible and be a welcoming space for all to enjoy, that’s something we’re really proud of at the festival. 

Q: The schedule is huge, but how many films didn't make it to the festival this year?

Well we’re talking about almost a thousand films being submitted a year, so that’s a fair few that don’t make it in…

Q: Which of the Flare delegate room benefits keeps you going? Chocolate brownie, coffee, or fruit?

All of the above. You need the coffee to keep you going at the halfway mark when you’ve got another weekend coming up, the chocolate brownies to pick you up in the morning after a late night, and the fruit just so you can fool your body into thinking you are taking care of yourself and giving it something healthy to eat.

Q: What would you recommend as your hidden gem from the programme this year?

Well if you’re talking about gems, then I’d have to recommend the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sing-a-long, after all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.


As you can see, Emma is the perfect woman for the job, and definitely someone to thank for programming such a top line up for women this year. Watching lesbian films really is a full time job!

Emma can be found at BFI Southbank throughout the BFI Flare festival, although she will probably be quite busy!