The news might have you believe that things are just going from bad to worse, but all is not lost just yet. For film lovers worldwide, #20GayTeen has actually been mighty generous so far, providing us with standout queer movies like Love, Simon and The Miseducation of Cameron Post.
That’s not all though. If you’re lucky enough to be in England at some point between October 10-21, then you’re also in with a chance of seeing some future LGBTQ classics at the London Film Festival. From lonely rent boys and transgender ballet dancers to riotous queens and lesbian axe murderers, join us as here at INTO as we explore the very best queer cinema that the LFF 2018 has to offer.
For his second feature, British comedian Simon Amstell focuses on the existential fears that the titular filmmaker suffers before the release of his second feature, and not even the arrival of a handsome French musician called Noah can help alleviate his angst. Somewhat autobiographical, Benjamin helps reinforce the UK as a leading light in queer cinema.
Carmen and Lola
Lola and Carmen don’t seem like they would fit together for a number of reasons, one of them being that Carmen is engaged to Lola’s cousin, Rafa. Nonetheless, Spanish director Arantxa Echevarría weaves an affecting story of forbidden love within the confines of a close-knit Roma community, exploring what happens when two teenage girls don’t fit the expectations of their patriarchal surroundings.
Smashing through the conventions of the late 19th century with bold defiance, the titular Colette helped redefine modern womanhood with her incredible talents and public fondness for suitors of both the same and opposite sex. Keira Knightley is no stranger to costume dramas, but trust us when we say that you’ve never seen her like this before.
Experimental queer cinema rarely pushes boundaries with as much fun as Diamantino, which follows Portugal’s top soccer player as he experiences visions of giant puppies on the field. If that’s not strange enough, co-directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt also throw lesbian secret police and psychopathic twin sisters into the mix. Is it any wonder that they won the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes earlier this year?
Documentary filmmaker Richard Squires employs a wide range of experimental techniques in Doozy to explore the life of actor Paul Lynde, whose camp persona on TV barely concealed his homosexuality. Everything from reenactments and musical numbers to Hanna-Barbera cartoon villains are used here to not just celebrate Lynde’s life, but to also take a deeper look at Hollywood’s suppression of the LGBTQ community back in the ’60s and ’70s.
Like the jewels in the crown that adorn Queen Anne’s head, The Favourite is a multi-faceted masterpiece that celebrates the stunning beauty found in the 18th century Royal Court of England. However, behind the gorgeous dresses and sumptuous decor lies a wicked love triangle between Lady Sarah, her cousin Abigail and Anne herself, each of whom is played to award-worthy perfection by Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Coleman respectively.
At just 14 minutes long, Christopher Manning’s impressive crowd-funded short shines a much-needed light on the conflict that arises when queer people are forced to reconcile their identity with their religion. In this case, Isha is a gay Romanian Muslim who struggles to keep his homosexuality a secret from his deeply religious family, but hopefully, it looks like happiness could still be within his grasp.
Knife + Heart
Deliberate or not, horror often flirts with LGBTQ themes, but few combine the two quite like this unusual arthouse slasher from the mind of Yann Gonzalez. Set in 1979 Paris, Knife + Heart follows a gay porn producer called Anne who has to try and save her latest production from a serial killer who’s bumping off each of the cast members who have been bumping uglies on set.
While gay rights in the UK have made incredible advances in the past decade, it wasn’t all that long ago when both the British government and media treated the LGBTQ community like second-class citizens. In his latest short, director Charlie Lyne unveils a particularly horrendous chapter of queer history from back in the early ’90s when a group of consensual BDSM lovers were humiliated in the papers and even sent to jail.
Director Craig William Macneill takes the story of Lizzie Borden (Chloë Sevigny), the ax-wielding murderer, and reframes the narrative to portray her as a victim of the patriarchy that overwhelmed her and other women back in the late 19th century. Along the way, Borden finds comfort in the arms of a new housemaid, Bridget Sullivan (Stewart), and together, the pair indulges in a secret romance that holds dangerous consequences.
Of Love & Law
Despite Japan’s many advancements, long-held conservative values continue to challenge the civil liberties of the country’s LGBTQ community today. Documentary filmmaker Hikaru Toda exposes the impact of such attitudes through the work of Fumi and Kazu, an openly gay couple who pioneered Japan’s first LGBTQ law firm. Together, they heroically tackle a number of cases for fellow ‘outsiders’ in the hope that they can change things for the better.
Queer sex is a punishable offense in Kenya, so it was extraordinarily brave of Wanuri Kahiu to direct this powerful story of two star-crossed lovers, which was subsequently banned by the government in her home country. Fortunately, the courts briefly overturned this censorship, allowing Rafiki to play in cinemas for one week, where it then became the second most successful Kenyan film of all time at the box office.
Sammy The Salmon
Coming out is never easy, especially if you’re a gay man coming out to your girlfriend, but if this short is anything to go by, then a wisecracking salmon named Sammy can help make the process a little bit easier. Surreal and yet surprisingly accessible, Sammy The Salmon is well worth the six short minutes it takes to watch.
Carnal pleasure and quiet vulnerability combine in this story of a lonely rent boy called Leo who craves affection and company from the men he sleeps with for money. With his debut feature, Camille Vidal-Naquet reveals himself to be a stunning new voice in LGBTQ cinema, helped in no small part by a disarming performance from Félix Maritaud in the lead role.
More a reimagining than a remake, Luca Guadagnino’s version of Suspiria is just as beautiful as his previous films like Call Me By Your Name and A Bigger Splash, although the visuals are arguably more horrifying than entrancing. Feminine power takes center stage here and while there are no explicit instances of queerness to be found, there’s still much to unpack for LGBTQ audiences attuned to deciphering subtext.
Yours In Sisterhood
UK filmmaker Irene Lusztig takes an intersectional look at the challenges women faced in the 70s by asking people from across the US to read out old letters sent to the feminist magazine Ms. By relating each concern to their own lives today, the subjects of this deceptively simple documentary confirm that various issues involving gay motherhood, financial independence and more still hold women back in modern society today.
LFF 2018 runs from October 10th-21st. Read the programme and buy tickets for the festival at the LFF website.