Film is a medium that can entertain, move and teach. It helps us experience, share and learn stories beyond our community and take a walk in someone else's shoes.
In honour of the start of Australia's Mardi Gras festival, we've pulled together a list of some of the most entertaining, heart-felt and educational pieces of LGBTQIA+ cinema. Settle in and enjoy.
A Single Man (2009)
A visceral journey into the world of of George, an English professor attempting to cope with the death of his late boyfriend. Visually stunning, the story is a slow burn and presented in the style we've come to expect from Tom Ford as a director. Starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Nicholas Hoult.
This Best-Picture winner tells the story of a boy, Chiron, growing up in an underprivileged part of Miami. His mother struggles with addiction and he has a complicated relationship with a local drug dealer. We follow Chiron through three stages of his life as he learns more about the world around him and himself. It stars Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris - and Alex R. Hibbert, Aston Sanders and Trevante Rhodes in the role of Chiron.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
This film does have a few problems, particularly the inclusion of Armie Hammer as one of the film's leads. But the cultural impact of this film is undeniable. A love story set in Italy, it follows the story of Elio who falls in love with older college student Oliver during the course of a summer. Starring Timothée Chalamet and directed by Luca Guadagnino.
In 1950s New York, an aspiring photographer and shop sales assistant is captivated by the alluring Carol - an older woman in a marriage of convenience. As a relationship steadily grows between the two of them, the realities of the world they live in could prove too great a barrier. It stars Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson and Rooney Mara.
Love, Simon (2018)
A delightful, high-schoool, coming-of-age story. Teenage Simon has a secret, he's gay. No one around him knows his truth. One day he connects with another high schooler online, and they share their experience of living in the closet. At the height of the film, Simon's secret is threatened and he is forced to deal with sad inequalities that plague our society. It's sad at times, but generally a very sweet and heart-warming film that explains nuanced subject matter in a clever way. It stars Nick Robinson and Australian Katherine Langford.
Boy Erased (2018)
This biographical drama follows the true story of a boy sent to a conversion camp in middle America. It's a hard watch and gut-wrenching at points as we watch our protagonist Jared forced into a series of inhuman practices and exercises. It's definitely a worthwhile watch, and certainly important to help us expose the heinousness of conversion camps. But it is triggering and should be treated lightly for anyone dealing with trauma. It stars Lucas Hedges, Troy Sivan, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and was directed by Joel Edgerton.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
This Oscar nominated film follows the story of a family. Couple Jules and Nic conceived both their children using the same sperm donor. When their teenage children eventually want to meet their biological father and invite him into their lives, the family deals with a number of funny but also challenging questions. Starring Annette Benning, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Mark Ruffalo and Josh Hutcherson.
Happiest Season (2020)
It's the cheesy holiday film was all needed in 2020. Abby and Harper are a happy couple living together in America. Harper invites Abby back to her family home for the Christmas holidays - but the drama starts when Harper reveal her parents do not know that she's queer and think Abby is her parentless roommate. It's a comedy of errors, but also has a bunch of sweet and heart-felt moments. It stars Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Dan Levy and Mary Steenburgen and was directed by Clea DuVall.
The Favourite (2018)
In 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne. Her close friend and lover Lady Sarah helps govern the country and support Anne's ill health. When Sarah's younger cousin Abigail comes to the castle in search of work, a relationship forms between Anne and Abigail. Now Sarah and Abigail must fight to stay in favour.
But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)
This film is no award winner, but this 90s flick about self discovery was one of the few mainstream films of the era that actually cast members of the LGBTQIA+ community - which is obviously super important when telling queer stories. Clea DuVall and RuPaul star in this movie alongside Natasha Lyonne about a Cheerleader who is sent to a campy conversion camp when her family suspect she's a lesbian.
Summer of 85 (2020)
A French film following the story of two boys who meet when a boat capsizes on the water in Normandy. Over the course of a summer, their pair grow close and form an unbreakable bond. At least it seemed that way until their relationship is tested by a new arrival. Visually stunning, this one is directed by François Ozon.
Beach Rats (2017)
In Brooklyn, Frankie struggles with his own identity. He uses hookup sites to meet older men and eventually starting chatting and camming. He also starts meeting men at a cruising beach, all the while he enters into a relationship with a young woman. In the film we watch Frankie struggle to reconcile his identity against the backdrop of family and society. Directed by Eliza Hittman.
The Boys in the Band (2020)
Based on the play of the same name, the story follows a birthday party in 1968 in New York. A drinking game and a surprise appearance leave seven friends, all gay men, to deal with secrets and the feelings like don't always talk about. Starring Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)
This isn't a traditional movie, it's documentary, but one too important not to include in a list of LGBTQIA+ films. Marsha P. Johnson was one of the great liberators of the queer and trans community. She was on the front lines of the Stonewall Riots and actively campaigned for equality at every turn. This documentary shares her life and why she was one of history's most important humanitarian activitists.