The annual Tribeca Film Festival kicks off this week in downtown Manhattan. But even if you can’t make it to NYC for the festival, there are plenty of queer flicks you’ll want to keep an eye out for. We’re talking lyrical, dreamlike literary adaptations, tense romantic dramas and highly anticipated biopics of legendary gay icons.
And more than a few queer influencers get their due in illuminating documentary features that explore their lives and careers.
Related: That Awesome Patti Smith/Robert Mapplethorpe Memoir Is Going To Be A Movie
Mark your calendars and re-up your Movie Pass subscriptions, because if these eight films are any indication, 2018 is going to be a major year for LGBTQ cinema.
Fresh off his headline-making role in Netflix’s The Crown, Matt Smith trades tweed suits for leather chaps as the infamous gay photographer. This world premiere biopic explores Robert Mapplethorpe’s early days in New York as a struggling artist living at the epicenter of the city’s late 1960s counterculture, through his rise to fame in the 70s and his untimely death in 1989. Mapplethorpe’s longtime friend and one-time lover Patti Smith declined to be involved with the film. But if you’re a fan of the punk icon’s award-winning 2010 memoir Just Kids, Mapplethorpe is an interesting companion piece to the book.
2. We the Animals
Since premiering at Sundance, this intimate film has gained a ton of buzz. Some are even calling it this year’s Moonlight. In his first narrative film, documentary filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar manages to capture the impressionistic quality of gay author Justin Torres’s 2011 autobiographical novel in a film that revels in the tactile realities and soaring romance of childhood. Looking’s Raúl Castillo stars as the charismatic, volatile father of three young brothers, the youngest of whom, Jonah (Evan Rosado), deals with his growing sense of difference by escaping into his illustrated journal. Those scribblings and fantasies are brought to life by vivid animation in this dreamlike film that will leave you, like the boys at its center, wanting more.
Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams smolder in this tense story of forbidden love. Years after leaving the Orthodox Jewish community in London where she grew up, a New York photographer (Weisz) returns for her estranged father’s funeral, reigniting an affair with an old flame (McAdams) and sparking controversy in the tight knit religious community.
4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post
The acclaimed YA novel comes to the big screen. Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a Midwestern teen just coming into her own in the 90s. But when she’s caught making out with another girl at prom, her conservative aunt sends her to a gay conversion camp. Sounds like a nightmare, right? But as Cameron resists the camp’s reprogramming she manages to forge a community with the other queer teens.
Even if you aren’t familiar with his name, you definitely know Howard Ashman’s work. No matter what age you are, the songs he worked on for Disney’s early 90s animation renaissance is still probably the soundtrack of your childhood. This documentary is a tribute to the out lyricist, who was battling AIDS while penning songs for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.
Another film fest, another Alexander McQueen doc, am I right? But there’s a reason so many filmmakers are fascinated by the late designer’s visionary work and tragic, untimely death. Director Ian Bonhote delves into the savage beauty of McQueen’s rags to riches story in all its unvarnished glory, with insight from those closest to the famed designer.
7. Every Act of Life
“You cannot tell the history of American theatre without celebrating the work of Terrence McNally,” says Tony, Grammy and Emmy winner Audra McDonald in this documentary, which takes a look the playwright’s life and career. Through interviews with Nathan Lane, Larry Kramer, Angela Lansbury and Christine Baranski as well as McNally himself, writer-director Jeff Kaufman charts not only the four-time Tony winner’s influence on the theater, but also his battle with addiction and his role in the fight for equality.
8. The Gospel According to André
Another complicated fashion icon gets the documentary treatment. The Gospel According to André takes you inside the world of one of the leading influencers in American fashion, André Leon Talley. From his youth in the Jim Crow south to the days leading up to and following the 2017 presidential election, director Kate Novack profiles the living legend. Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs and other fashion luminaries sing Talley’s praises alongside childhood friends in this loving, intimate portrait.