Films aimed at LGBTQIA+ audiences are simultaneously rare and numerous. There are certainly a lot of them being made, but it’s rare that they find theatrical releases unless they have a big name like Cate Blanchett or Eddie Redmayne attached to the project. Queer audiences who relish the chance to see their stories on screen are well-versed in this, and know that when it comes to finding quality LGBT+ films, it usually comes down to perusing film festival guides and discovering the hidden gems.
With queer film festival season kicking off soon, we decided to scour some of the biggest festivals, from Cannes to San Francisco’s famed Outfest, to find ten must-see movies that we're hoping to see on Australian screens soon.
Here’s what we found:
Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City earlier this year, this scandalous drama is inspired by the true story of gay porn star Brett Corrigan. We’re still waiting to see director Justin Kelly’s earlier festival title about gay conversion therapy, I Am Michael, but the salacious true crime aspect of King Cobra plus big names like James Franco, Garrett Clayton, Keegan Allen, Christian Slater, Alicia Silverstone, and Molly Ringwald ought to make this a big hit at local queer film fests.
Winner of the Teddy Award, the Berlin Film Festival’s prize for queer film - probably the most prestigious prize for gay cinema in the world – Klaus Händl’s look at a fracturing relationship in Vienna has been hailed as not just having a standout performance by a cat, but also as a suspenseful and thought-provoking work. The fact that Teddy audience winner Paris 05:59 wound up at the Melbourne International Film Festival without Tomcat is a bit disappointing.
The Lives of Thérèse (Les Vies de Thérèse)
A year after Therese Belivet tore our hearts out in Carol and won the The Queer Palm - Cannes Film Festival’s LGBTQI cinema prize - another film about a woman named Therese did the same thing. Much different to Todd Haynes’ lesbian romantic drama, however, The Lives of Thérèse is a documentary about Thérèse Clerc who struggled to legalise abortion, fought for gender equality, and significantly battled for gay rights on the front lines. Director Sébastien Lifshitz and the woman herself glance over her life after her diagnosis of an incurable disease.
Having played LGBT+ festivals in San Francisco, Toronto, and Santiago, we’re anticipating this Argentinian/Brazilian film from first-time director Papu Curotto. South American films never skimp on the sexy, but they’re also frequently more heartfelt in their exploration of forbidden, socially taboo romance. This story of childhood flirtations returning in adulthood should get audiences excited.
Sure to be one of the most controversial films of the year, Julia Ducournau’s Raw exploded in Cannes earlier this year with its tale of sexual liberation through cannibalism. The film is said to have several queer elements to it in its story of a vegetarian university freshman who, upon being forced into a meat-eating hazing ritual, gets infatuated with the taboo. Raw has been picked up by Monster Pictures for a local release so expect to see it – or avoid it, if you get a queasy stomach – sometime in the future.
As you can maybe guess from the title, this new American drama has “daddy issues” at its core. While it titillates, taking audiences behind the scenes of the softcore gay porn shoots of four young men who shed their boyish innocence along with their clothes, Daniel Armando’s film also seeks to examine masculinity and the relationships between fathers and gay sons.
Women Who Kill
Hailed as “the best lesbian horror-comedy ever” by IndieWire, this Brooklyn-set film from Ingrid Jungermann follows two true-crime podcasters and ex-lovers who have to navigate their selfishness and romantic entanglements alongside a thriller subplot. Jungermann’s web-series The Slope (which also gave us Appropriate Behavior’s Desiree Akhavan) and F to 7th (with Amy Sedaris and Gaby Hoffman) were popular hits, and this, her feature film debut, won the best screenplay prize at Tribeca Film Festival.
Another Sundance discovery, this one has garnered Oscar buzz for Molly Shannon. Other People is an autobiographical dramedy about a writer, based on Saturday Night Live and Broad City writer and director Chris Kelly (portrayed here by Jesse Plemons) – returning home to care for his sick mother. The movie had worldwide streaming rights sold to Netflix so we’ll hopefully be seeing it by the end of the year.
Written, directed, and starring openly gay actress Clea DuVall, The Intervention is a comedy in the style of The Big Chill as a group of friends convene with the intention of forcing a squabbling couple to consider divorce. DuVall reteams with her But I’m a Cheerleader co-stars Natasha Lyonne, as well as giving The Perks of Being a Wallflower’s Aunt Helen, Melanie Lynskey, a starring role that won her a special jury prize at Sundance.
Looking: The Movie
After premiering on June 26 in San Francisco - the home of Looking, the feature film finale of HBO’s gay-centric series is set to hit Netflix on July 23. Nothing more needs to be said, but while watching it at home is one thing, we would love nothing more than to have our last experience with Patrick, Richie, Kevin, Dom, Doris, and Agustin on a big screen surrounded by fans.