From the Focus Features Vault

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.

The Celebratory: 20 Years of Focus Film Festival

Indie distributor Focus Features celebrates 20 years in showbiz this week, and we want to take a moment to applaud them. Few distributors have made such a momentous contribution to indie cinema, especially when it comes to movies about LGBTQ characters.

As such, we’ve combed the Focus catalog to select some of our most beloved–and most essential–titles in the Focus Queer Canon. Whether viewed separately or as a multi-title feature, each tells a powerful queer story worth the price of a rental, not to mention your time.

Brokeback Mountain

What more can we say about the story of Enis & Jack? Brokeback Mountain has become a latter-day classic thanks to its moving story of gay love, outstanding performances and Oscar-winning direction by Ang Lee.

Streams on Netflix, Peacock, Amazon, YouTube & VUDU.

Far From Heaven

Leave it to director Todd Haynes to craft a 1950s-style melodrama all about forbidden love, be it interracial romance or same-sex relationships. Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert and Patricia Clarkson all shine here. Far From Heaven would seem totally ridiculous if it wasn’t so damn touching.

Streams on Amazon, YouTube & VUDU.


Dee Rees announced herself as one of the great queer directors of our time with her 2011 feature debut. Pariah tells the story of Alike (Adepero Oduye), a 17-year-old Black lesbian trying to reconcile her race, gender, and sexual orientation. Alike and Rees don’t find easy solutions to the questions she faces. Instead, Pariah reminds viewers that while being queer is not a choice, living true and proud is a choice every LGBTQ person must make.

Streams on HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube & VUDU.

Boy Erased

Garrard Conley’s memoir about surviving conversion therapy served as the basis for this gut-wrenching drama about queer survival. Boy Erased exposes conversion therapy as both ineffective and a form of torture. Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Joel Edgerton (who also directed) all give splendid performances in a movie equal parts a call to action, and outpouring of compassion.

Streams on Amazon, Peacock, YouTube & VUDU.


Kasi Lemmons made a superhero movie about a real-life queer superhero in this biopic of Harriet Tubman. Cynthia Erivo–who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance–is a revelation in the title role while Janelle Monáe, as Harriet’s kinda-sorta girlfriend Marie, also proves herself a capable dramatic actress.

Streams on Amazon, Peacock, YouTube & VUDU.


What more can we say about Gus Van Sant’s 2008 biopic of Harvey Milk, other than it is one of the greatest queer films of all time? Sean Penn won a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Moreover, generations of LGBTQ youth could finally look to the past and see a leader to emulate in the ongoing struggle for equality.

Streams on Amazon, YouTube, VUDU, Hulu, Starz and The Roku Channel.


This wonderful drama doesn’t get enough credit as a touching story about the relationship between a son (Ewan McGregor) and his elderly, recently-out father (Christopher Plummer). Plummer won an Oscar for his performance, a splendid portrait of a gay man in the twilight of his life.

Streams on Amazon, YouTube & VUDU.

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