If you’re lucky enough to have an LGBT film festival in your town (check the Big Queer Film Festival List to see) you’ll want to keep an eye out for these acclaimed and anticipated films to see them on the big screen. You can also look forward to many of them in theaters, on DVD and VOD in the coming months. Here in A-Z order are a dozen must-see films that are playing both festivals.
There are many other films premiering only this month at Frameline (The Case Against 8, I Feel Like Disco, Tru Love, and many more) or in July at Outfest (Life Partners, Tiger Orange, Match, Space Station 76)–and of course there are dozens of other must-sees as well including the Queerty-sponsored Folsom Forever (pictured above), a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the San Francisco institution known as “the grand daddy of all leather events.”
From Australian writer-director Sophie Hyde (Shut Up, Little Man) comes the Sundance Award-winning feature drama 52 Tuesdays. Del Herbert-Jane portrays James who is transitioning from female to male. Over the course of the year (52 Tuesdays) his 16-year-old daughter Billie visits him and the film follows his transition. During this time Billie also begins to explore her own identity and sexuality with her two best (boy and girl) pals.
The lovely and hilarious British writer-director-actress Desiree Akhavan stars in her feature film debut Appropriate Behavior — a quirky comedy-drama about a young Persian bisexual woman navigating the terrain of hipster Brooklyn, her traditional family and the dating landscape.
One of the most anticipated gay indie dramas of the year is this tale of the late-in-life sexual awakening of a 60-year-old bank employee (played by Robin Williams). Williams stars as a straight married man who develops a relationship with a young hustler on the streets of Nashville (Roberto Aguire, Struck By Lightning).
This heartwarming gay teen romance could be titled, The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Boys in Love. Following the steadily blossoming affection between two high school relay runners, this Dutch drama features a pair of terrific performances from its young stars — the unbelievably handsome Gijs Blom plays 15-year-old Sieger; equally cute Ko Zandvliet co-stars as his love interest, Marc.
Broken Heart Land
This compelling documentary revisits the tragic tale of Oklahoma teen Zachary Harrington who took his own life in 2010, but whose death catalyzed his parents to become LGBT activists and make the world safer for LGBT kids.
A gorgeous dramatization of gay lovers Ernst and Robi who meet in Zurich in 1958 against the backdrop of “The Circle” (the pioneering gay organization and internationally renowned underground club), this award-winning film also showcases the true story of Ernst and Robi, featuring interviews with the men (now in their 80s) along with stunning archival images and fascinating research into this incredible era in gay history. A must-see film with exquisite performances from Matthias Hungerbuhler and Sven Schelker as Ernst and Robi.
After decades of provocative cinematic achievement ranging from such classics as No Skin Off My Ass to the legendary Hustler White, Canadian bad boy director Bruce La Bruce appears to have landed a cross-over hit with this admittedly provocative but evidently very accessible drama about the love between a young man named Lake and an old man named Mr. Peabody. The film has buzz galore coming off numerous mainstream festival screenings. And of course stay tuned for La Bruce’s next project, Twincest (the story of identical twins Dominic and Daniel who are separated from their adulterous, lesbian mother shortly after their birth in 1950). In other Bruce La Bruce news, rumor has it that Hustler White is on deck for a restored re-release sometime next year. Stay tuned.
I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole
An in-depth portrait of the man who brought us such classic adult films as Boys in the Sand and Bijou, documentarian Jim Tushinski’s I Always Said Yes delves into the life of Wakefield Poole exploring his career as a dancer and choreographer and as a filmmaker who came of age during the dawn of the modern gay liberation movement in the heart of New York City.
I Am Happiness on Earth
From the acclaimed Mexican director Julian Hernandez (known for his remarkable films: Broken Sky, A Thousand Clouds of Peace and Raging Sun, Raging Sky), I Am Happiness on Earth tells the story of a filmmaker who begins to confuse the line between his real life and his filmmaking. Featuring several explicit sex scenes, the film has been compared to Fellini’s 8 ½ and Godard’s Contempt for its self-conscious reflectivity.
Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story
This CNN-produced feature documentary has terrific buzz coming onto the festival circuit. A portrait of transgender activist and former U.S. Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, Lady Valor follows Beck after her 2013 coming out (via Anderson Cooper 360) and interviews family and friends as well as looking back at Beck’s distinguished armed forces career.
Fresh off its world premiere at Sundance, this wistful and reflective British drama stars Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas, Bright Star) as a gay man trying to connect with his late partner’s Chinese-Cambodian mother at the old-age home where she lives. Problem is, she doesn’t speak English. Written and directed by British gay filmmaker Hong Khaou, Lilting co-stars prolific Chinese actress Pei-Pei Cheng as the mother and Naomi Christie as the translator who helps the two connect.
Regarding Susan Sontag
Delving deeply into the complicated and amazing life of one of America’s most famous (and most closeted) public intellectuals, this Tribeca Award-winner investigates the legacy of Susan Sontag while offering a satisfying exploration of her sexuality, including her relationship with photographer Annie Liebovitz.
To Be Takei
In the perfect-timing department, George Takei is being honored with this year’s Frameline Award — given every year to a person or entity that has made a major contribution to LGBT representation in film, television, or the media arts (past recipients include Vito Russo, Margaret Cho and Divine). His inspiring activism as a Japanese-American internment camp survivor and his work for LGBT equality are just a few of the facets of George Takei. Featuring abundant archival footage from his decades in Hollywood (including his most famous role as Star Trek’s Sulu), Jennifer Kroot’s To Be Takei affectionately illuminates the life of this cult icon and his husband Brad.
Lastly, check out the Frameline and Outfest festival trailers below — and start ordering your tickets!