Criminal Acts: A Charged Past is a cinema season commemorating the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, taking place at Picturehouse at National Science and Media Museum until Tue 15 Aug 2017.
This season presents a mix of British films, some that explicitly address the legal history of same-sex relationships in the UK, and others that simply reflect the condition of sexual-minority life in this country in a specific place, at a specific time. A potent journey through Queer British cinema, Criminal Acts is not exhaustive, but aims to open up discussion through the following landmark movies:
The Naked Civil Servant 
Sun 28 May, 2.00
Director: Jack Gold. Starring: John Hurt. UK 1975. 80 mins.
See a brand new high-definition restoration of this ITV classic, featuring the late John Hurt’s breakthrough role as the fearless writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp. Navigating the dangers of homophobic pre-WWII London, Crisp proudly and wittily challenges the authorities that seek to suppress him. Hurt’s iconic, BAFTA-winning performance is widely seen as one of the finest in a long and distinguished career.
My Beautiful Laundrette 
Sun 18 Jun, 2.00
Director: Stephen Frears. Starring: Daniel-Day Lewis, Gordon Warnecke. UK 1985. 97 mins.
Daniel Day Lewis’s breakthrough role as a right-wing extremist who falls for a Pakistani man, inadvertently stirring racial prejudices throughout their South London neighbourhood. Stephen Frears’ iconic film is both a touching romance and a powerful depiction of the struggles of minorities in Thatcher’s Britain.
Love Is The Devil 
Tue 27 Jun, 6.00
Director: John Maybury. Starring: Derek Jacobi, Daniel Craig, Tilda Swinton. UK 1998. 90 mins.
John Maybury’s daring art biopic stars Derek Jacobi as Francis Bacon and Daniel Craig as his muse, a small-time thief drawn into the painter’s bohemian circle. Tilda Swinton gives a standout performance as the foul-mouthed proprietress of the legendary Colony Room, the Soho club that served as a hub for the group, which also included photographer John Deakin and artist Isabel Rawsthorne.
Tue 18 Jul, 6.00
Director: Andrew Haigh. Starring: Tom Cullen, Chris New. UK 2011. 97 mins.
Andrew Haigh’s breakout hit and a milestone in British cinema, follows two young men as a one-night-stand turns into something more serious. The couple debates their daily struggles in an overwhelmingly straight world, and come to realise that despite almost half a century of progress, the fight for social equality is far from over.
Tue 15 Aug, 6.00
Director: Basil Dearden. Starring: Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms. UK 1961. 100 mins.
Early ’60s London, and gay men across the city are being blackmailed, threatening exposure at a time when consensual homosexual acts could still result in imprisonment. Basil Dearden’s classic thriller stars Dirk Bogarde in his most daring role, as a gay lawyer fighting back against the blackmailers who dare to target him.
Followed by a panel discussion with the Equity Partnership!
In addition to the Criminal Acts cinema season, you can discover extraordinary films and TV programmes from the BFI National Archive in the free Mediatheque. Among their many collections is Beautiful Things, which explores LGBT lives on screen, and includes exciting rediscoveries of Black Cap Drag and the anarchic LWT documentary What’s a Girl Like You….