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For the LGBTQ community, film has long been a vehicle for challenging social oppression and isolation. While, in turn, furthering inclusion and understanding of the LGBTQ community’s vibrant place in history, art, and culture. This has led to a cinematic journey that not only reflects the history of the people at its heart. But also celebrates the role both individuals and communities have played in the fight for broader equality and representation.
As a result, cinema has assisted in building a wider public understanding of the lives of LGBTQ people. Exploring some of the most challenging and heart-breaking events in the communities global history. While also reflecting and representing a community that has often been kept silent and hidden. In turn helping to build individual and community confidence in sharing stories, coming out and expressing pride.
However, it is only recently in the history of cinema that confidence has grown, and even now studios often openly censor LGBTQ content to appease global markets. Therefore the journey of LGBTQ cinema is far over, in fact, it is only just finding confidence. The role of films alongside theatre and art remaining central to furthering inclusion. So join us in celebrating just some of the films that made us laugh, cry and reflect on the LGBTQ journey. While in turn building bridges that further inclusion and equality.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Brokeback Mountain could have easily become a melodrama in the wrong hands. However, with Ang Lee at the helm, it became a beautiful and profoundly moving story of hidden love, lost opportunities and escape. Set against the backdrop of rural Wyoming in 1960’s America. Ledger, Gyllenhaal and Williams offer performances that ring with sincerity, heartbreak and isolation. While the suffocation of hidden desire interfaces with the escape of rurality and separation. In a film that not only allowed the horror of homophobia into mainstream cinemas but also challenged toxic masculinity and isolation. As a result, opening the door to the cinema for many LGBTQ stories. While in turn, demonstrating the power of cinema in embracing change, and challenging the discrimination still prevalent in rural American communities.
Watching the final harrowing scenes you can’t help but be reminded of the horrific murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Only further Demonstrating the importance of Brokeback Mountain in challenging rural isolation, discrimination and acceptance.
Andrew Haigh’s Weekend feels documentary-like in both its realism and focus, providing us with a film that challenges the very boundaries of LGBTQ storytelling. As it encapsulates the real-life experience of many gay men in finding love, belonging and partnership. Filmed on an extremely low budget in the city of Nottingham. Weekend centres on a one-night stand and the burgeoning reality that it may provide more than pure physical enjoyment for Russell and Glen. With sex moving on to the delicate confines of early conversation and connection. As Russell and Glen begin to stumble into the realms of a much deeper connection. One built on shared experience, fear of commitment and excitement.
There is something uniquely intimate in Haigh’s film a trait that would continue in both 45 Years and Lean on Pete. Providing a realism, intensity and journey that never hides the complexities, fun and fear of first meetings. While embracing the fleeting ability of sex to transition into love and belonging.
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
You may think that a film based on male prostitution would focus on sex. But Gus Van Sant’s 1991 picture does not wrap itself in stereotypical themes of prostitution and sexuality. My Own Private Idaho plays with Shakespeare’s Henry IV part I and II. While placing its central characters into the urban bustle and rural beauty of Portland, Oregon. Dovetailing the freedom of wide-open landscapes with a suffocating yet intoxicating cityscape. Scott (Keanu Reeves) and Mike (River Phoenix) care for each other, sharing their hopes and dreams in a nuanced mesh of male love and unrequited longing.
Idaho takes us on an unforgettable journey of love in the midst of hurt, companionship and a dream-like need for belonging and safety. As a result, creating one of the finest LGBTQ films of the past 30 years.
Show Me Love (1998)
Lukas Moodyssons debut feature is both a touching and beautifully performed portrait of emerging sexuality. As the fledgeling love of two young girls in the small backwater Swedish town of Åmål, butts up against the restrictive culture and traditions of a working-class community. At the same time as the hidden desires and belonging of emerging female sexuality explode with potent sensuality. Show Me Love reflects the feelings of community imprisonment all LGBTQ young people experience. Their wings clipped just as their bodies and minds take flight, in towns of limited potential.
Celine Sciamma’s follow up to Water Lilies, beautifully explores gender identity, freedom of choice and coming of age without hidden agendas. Following 10-year-old Laure as she moves with her family to a new suburban neighbourhood in France. Her refusal to conform to the images of girlhood that surround her represented by a wish to dress as a boy. However, Laurie’s image and identity become more complicated in meeting a new friend Lisa, who believes she is a boy. With Laurie adopting the name Michael to confirm to Lisa’s pre-conceptions.
Tomboy is a beautiful exploration of innocence, identity and perception. Never seeking to define the outcome for Laurie or her creation of Michael. Instead, Tomboy simply asks the audience to accept the need for self-expression of identity during childhood, wherever that may lead in adolescence.