As the 2017 Sundance Film Festival wraps we once again have a preview of the horizon for this year’s most anticipated releases — including fest award winners God’s Own Country which won the World Cinema Directing Award and is being hailed as the British Brokeback; the Dutch-Mexican co-production Sueño en otro idioma (I Dream in Another Language) which took home the World Cinema Audience Award; German drama Axolotl Overkill which earned the World Cinema Special Jury Award for Cinematography; and the American indie Beach Rats, winner of the US Directing Award.
The mixture of films big and small, domestic and international, features, documentaries and scripted series will find their way into the world at a time when we need them more than ever.
Look for them in theaters, on DVD and digital and at your local film festival. It is an oft-repeated call, but in these challenging times it is worth a reminder that our treasured LGBTQ film festivals provide us a forum in which to achieve connection and community. Get involved: volunteer or donate, make a movie or support a filmmaker, but above all buy a ticket and be part of the audience to experience our culture together where we can engage directly with the screen, with the filmmakers and with each other.
And as we always say: You can never underestimate the potential of cruising opportunities in the popcorn line.
Here are a few highlights from the beloved festival (with descriptions compliments Sundance)…
Director: Helene Hegemann
Mifti, age 16, lives in Berlin with a cast of characters including her half-siblings; their rich, self-involved father; and her junkie friend Ophelia. As she mourns her recently deceased mother, she begins to develop an obsession with Alice, an enigmatic, and much older, white-collar criminal.
Director: Eliza Hittman
An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn struggles to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity, as he balances his time between his delinquent friends, a potential new girlfriend, and older men he meets online.
Call Me by Your Name
Director: Luca Guadagnino
The sensitive and cultivated Elio, only child of the American-Italian-French Perlman family, is facing another lazy summer at his parents’ villa in the beautiful and languid Italian countryside when Oliver, an academic who has come to help with Elio’s father’s research, arrives.
Director: Anna Kerrigan
Best friends Kate and Michael, who are deaf, try their best to see their friendship through new changes in their lives, as Kate adjusts to being newly married and Michael attempts to get over his ex-boyfriend. The Festival will debut five episodes of this short-form episodic series.
God’s Own Country
Director: Francis Lee
Springtime in Yorkshire: isolated young sheep farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker, employed for the lambing season, ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.
Sueño en otro idioma (I Dream in Another Language)
Director: Ernesto Contreras
The last two speakers of a millennia-old language haven’t spoken in 50 years, when a young linguist tries to bring them together. Yet hidden in the past, in the heart of the jungle, lies a secret concerning the fate of the Zikril language.
I Love Dick
Directors: Jill Soloway, Andrea Arnold, Kimberly Peirce
Chris and Sylvere, a married couple in the intellectual community of Marfa, Texas, become obsessed with a charismatic artist named Dick. What follows is the unraveling of a marriage, the deification of a reluctant messiah and the awakening of the female gaze.
The Little Hours
Director: Jeff Baena
Medieval nuns lead a simple life in their convent. Their days are spent chafing at monastic routine, spying on one another, and berating the estate’s day laborer. Father Tommasso brings on new hired hand, a virile young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord. Introduced to the sisters as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation, he struggles to maintain his cover as the repressed nunnery erupts in a whirlwind of pansexual horniness, substance abuse, and wicked revelry.
Directors: Mia Lidofsky, Celia Rowlson-Hall
Newly single and bisexual Isobel rents out her spare room in a last ditch effort to keep the home she loves. Along with her lesbian best friend, she navigates the most complicated time in her life—emotionally, sexually, and professionally—while sharing her home with a new stranger each episode.
This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
Director: Barbara Kopple
A groundbreaking film that portrays the journey of Gigi Lazzarato, a fearless woman who began life as Gregory, posting fashion videos to YouTube from his bedroom, only to later come out as a transgender female. With never-before-seen personal footage, the film spotlights a family’s unwavering love for a child.
Director: John Trengove
Xolani, a lonely factory worker, joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a defiant initiate from the city discovers his best kept secret, Xolani’s entire existence begins to unravel.
Descriptions and images compliments of Sundance Film Festival. Visit Sundance.org for more details.
Browse the Big Queer Film Festival List to find your local festival now.