Internationally, the conversation in gay cinema is a more nuanced one than here in the States. There is often a layer of dissonance to the stories, and the formats can lean towards a more intellectual, theoretical approach. Case in point: the ten international gay films below. Feel free to drop them into your date convo and impress that certain someone.
Theorem (1968) – Piero Pasolini
Theorem is Piero Pasolini’s classic film starring a smoldering Terence Stamp. Stamp basically screws an entire household of bourgeois Italians, sending family power dynamics into a tailspin. It’s one of the greatest films ever made about the disarming of patriarchal norms. Also, did I mention how sexy Stamp is in it?
2. Edward II (1991) – Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s Edward II is the ultimate English queer postmodern agitprop film. Jarman invented a queer and explicitly combative type of cinema that stands apart from the work of his contemporaries. He took his country’s history and reimagined it with a queer narrative, which stood in stark contrast to the homophobia of the time.
3. Cage Aux Folles (1978) – Édouard Molinaro
It’s important to note that this 1978 film starring Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault was one of the first films to showcase a gay family. It was based on Jean Poiret’s 1973 play of the same name, which roasted the traditional French notion of the family. The film was way ahead of its time and way better than the 1996 American remake, The Birdcage, which wasn’t even all that bad.
4. Stranger By The Lake (2013) – Alain Guiraudie
When I first saw Stranger By The Lake, I was so weirded out by its haunting narrative. The film is an ode to the gay man’s death wish, and how we as humans play with fire. It’s fascinating and hypnotizing.
5. Satyricon (1969) – Federico Fellini
Fellini creates worlds within worlds. This 1969 orgy of ideas and images is an episodic exploration of Petronius’s Satyricon. The film delves deep into the subconscious and latent desires within all men. It’s a fascinating portrayal of human sexuality.
6. Time To Leave (2005) – Francois Ozon
Francois Ozone is a masterful filmmaker who can move through various genres with ease. He’s best known for his gay satire Sitcom, but Time to Leave is decidedly not funny. It’s about a devastatingly handsome gay man diagnosed with terminal cancer and what he does with his last days. It’s one of my favorite films.
7. Wild Reeds (1994) – André Téchiné
I’m dating myself here, but I rented Wild Reeds at the local Blockbuster. I used to ravage the international section because usually it had the most sex in it! My parents thought it was good I was broadening my horizons, little did they know…I was just in love with the French boys. This film is a beautiful retelling of a first love and the pain that can cause. Plus, the object of the boy’s affection is a bisexual hottie.
8. Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) – Toshio Matsumoto
Japanese cinema never ceases to amaze. Even in the sixties, it was far ahead of its American counterpart. Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses is an imaginative version of the Oedipus myth told through the lens of gay Japan. It’s an amazing look into the levels of sexuality in Japanese society.
9. Querelle (1982) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s take on Jean Genet’s acclaimed queer novel, Querelle, is imperfect, but it’s like a walking/talking Tom of Finland daydream. The film moves through its latent sexuality with unadulterated bravado. Some people hate this film, but I rather love it.
10. Three Dancing Slaves (2004) – Gaël Morel
Back to the hot French guy thing. This touching tale tells the story of three French/Algerian brothers and how they move through their lives and sexuality. It is a fascinating examination of French male identity. Also, the entire cast is straight out of a Bel Ami video.