Holding The Man is based on Timothy Conigrave’s memoir of his teenage love for school footy captain John Caleo. Their budding romance and enduring relationship, despite its ups and downs, is a seminal queer Australian text - even more so because of its unflinching detail of the horrors of the then unfolding HIV/AIDS crisis.
Originally adapted for the stage by Tommy Murphy for Sydney’s Griffin Theatre Company, the long-awaited big screen outing is now in cinemas. Penned by Murphy and helmed by Candy director Neil Armfield, Holding The Man perfectly balances both the love and unimaginable loss with a great deal of deftly judged humour.
Wolf Creek 2 and The Water Diviner actor Ryan Corr plays Conigrave, with Craig Stott as Caleo in a great Australian movie bursting at the seams with home-grown talent including Guy Pearce, Anthony LaPaglia and Sarah Snook.
With high hopes Holding the Man can cut through to mainstream audiences – the poster dubs it "a love story for everyone" – we take a look through the SBS On Demand vault for our favourite queer movies.
Head On (1998)
Another Australian literary classic, Christos Tsiolkas’ Loaded is the perfect hymn for disaffected youth. It tackles immigrant culture clash, Melbourne’s class divisions, burgeoning sexuality and dangerously alluring abandon. Writer/director Ana Kokkinos perfectly casts Alex Dimitriades as Ari, the Greek teenager who’ll have a go at anything. He's railing against family, friends and his own sexuality in Head On’s viscerally thrilling, seductively chilling film adaptation. Paul Capsis is stellar as Ari’s best mate Johnny, who flits between the sexes as Toula.
Appropriate Behaviour (2014)
From the ‘Girls’ school of awkward, inward-looking and yet effortlessly cool Brooklyn-hipsters, writer/director/star Desiree Akhavan draws on her own life experiences in this sharply observed queer comedy. She plays Shirin, a hopelessly in love, wannabe filmmaker stuck teaching pre-schoolers while trying to juggle her personal and sexual identity with the social expectations of her ex-pat Iranian parents. Dashes of Woody Allen via Greta Gerwig’s Frances Ha imbue Appropriate Behaviour with abundant wit
The sterling sophomore feature from Girlhood writer/director Céline Sciamma cemented the French auteurs unmistakable talent. Set during a long, hot summer, Tomboy explores the delicate balance between gender identities approaching the cusp of puberty. Zoé Héran puts in a mind-bogglingly good performance as 10-year-old Laure who, when mistaken for a boy by same-age neighbour Lisa (Jeanne Disson), assumes the male identity Mickäel. But as the school year approaches, how long can this new outlook on life be maintained?
Patrik Age 1.5 (2008)
Family diversity is a hot topic right now, with the September 3 release of Australian director Maya Newell’s documentary Gaby Baby. In writer/director Ella Lemhagen’s Patrick Age 1.5, Swedish gay couple Göran (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Sven (Torkel Petersson) get more than they were planning for. Instead of the toddler they were expecting to adopt, they’re accidentally assigned 15-year-old homophobe Patrik, played by Tom Ljungman, who’s not best pleased by his new parental set-up. Cue dramatic coming-of-age comedy and eventual social awakening.
Dutch serviceman Lars (Thure Lindhardt) drops out of the army when his expected promotion is dashed by rumours of his closeted sexuality in Nicolo Donatos’ assured debut Brotherhood. Falling instead into a Neo-Nazi group, Lars channels his aggression and masculinity issues into homophobic and xenophobic violence. Inexorably drawn to the mysterious Jimmy (David Dencik), something of a kindred spirit, soon their homoerotic rough housing bursts into uncontrollable passion, eventually igniting an atom bomb within the tightly wound group.
Room In Rome (2010)
Spanish actress Elena Anaya credits her turn as Alba in Julio Medem’s Room in Rome as one of the darkest but most rewarding of her career. An erotic romance, Anaya stars alongside Natasha Yarovenko as Natasha. The film is beautifully sensual, with a supposed one-night stand unlocking deep wells of emotion unbound à la Before Sunrise.
Sally Potter’s glorious big screen adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s gender-bending, century shifting Orlando is a perfect showcase packed with inherent theatricality. When a dying Queen Elizabeth I, played by none other than the inimitably queer Quentin Crisp, asks Tilda Swinton’s dandy young Orlando never to age, he takes it literally and promptly travels the world, eventually crossing the gender divide too. You can always rely on the shimmering androgyny of Swinton. “You see? Absolutely no difference!”
Ginger & Rosa (2012)
Potter again excels with the ‘60s-set Ginger & Rosa. Played by Elle Fanning and Alice Englert respectively, the two tearaway teens reject the stifling conformity of their parents and embark on a crusade to put the world to rights just as the Cold War heats up. When a deep-felt betrayal splits the friends, Ginger finds solace with gay couple Mark and Mark, played by Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt, and their lefty mate and American poet Bella (Annette Benning) in a starry cast that also includes Christina Hendricks and Alessandro Nivola.
Geography Club (2013)
Bringing the Glee factor, Gary Entin’s Geography Club sees a bunch of high school students use the geeky club in question as a front for an LGBTI group providing a safe haven from homophobic bullying. Pitch Perfect’s Cameron Deane Stewart plays Russell, who is secretly mooning after the school footy captain Kevin (Justin Deeley of the 90210 reboot). Luckily enough, the feeling’s mutual, but are they ready to go public with their budding romance?
Noir meets the summer of love and female emancipation in this raunchy Parisian affair from writer/director/actor Laure Charpentier who adapted the film from her own novel and also cameos here. Lou Doillon stars as Georgine, the Gigola in question, who is passionately devoted to her older lover who then dies. Set free, Georgine haunts the clubs and seedy backrooms of the heaving city as an escort for hire. All cropped hair, tuxedo and bearing a silver snake-capped cane she uses to great effect, Doillon and the film look fantastic. It drips with rampant eroticism.
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