A Guide to Queer Films: What to Watch For Pride 2020

Happy Pride Month!!

The month of June was chosen for LGBTQAI+ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. Here is a brief history of the night that started it all:

New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park.

So to honor Pride month and the LGBTQAI+ community, I have compiled a list of 30 films (one for each day of pride month), for people to educate themselves and watch films created by queer filmmakers for queer cinema.

1. All About My Mother (1999)
dir. Pedro Almodóvar
Synopsis: Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his second mother, a trans woman, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela.

(left) Rosa Maria Sardá, Cecilia Roth and Penélope Cruz

2. Beginners (2010)
dir. Mike Mills
Synopsis: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer and that he has a young male lover.

(left) Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor

3. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
dir. Abdellatif Kechiche
Synopsis: Adèle’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire and to assert herself as a woman and as an adult.


4. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
dir. Ang Lee
Synopsis: The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.

(left) Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal

5. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
dir. Luca Guadagnino
Synopsis: In 1980s Italy, romance blossoms between a seventeen-year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant.

(left) Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer

6. Carol (2015)
dir. Todd Haynes
Synopsis: An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman in 1950s New York.

( left) Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett

7. Disobedience (2017) 
dir. Sebastián Lelio
A woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.

(left) Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz

8. Duke of Burgundy (2014)
Peter Strickland
A woman who studies butterflies and moths tests the limits of her relationship with her lesbian lover.

Sidse Babett Knudsen and Chiara D’Anna

9. Giant Little Ones (2018)
dir. Keith Behrman
Synopsis: Two popular teen boys, best friends since childhood, discover their lives, families, and girlfriends dramatically upended after an unexpected incident occurs on the night of a 17th birthday party.


10. God’s Own Country (2017) 
dir. Francis Lee
Synopsis: Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

(left) Alec Secareanu and Josh O’Connor

11. I Can’t Think Straight (2008) 
dir. Shamim Sarif
Synopsis: A young woman engaged to be married finds her life changed forever when she meets her best friend’s girlfriend.

(left) Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth

12. Looking For Langston (1989)
dir.  Isaac Julien
Synopsis: A black and white, fantasy-like recreation of high-society gay men during the Harlem Renaissance, with archival footage and photographs intercut with a story.


13. Love, Simon (2018)
dir. Greg Berlanti
Synopsis: Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

(left) Nick Robinson and Keiynan Lonsdale

14. Milk (2008)
Gus Van Sant
Synopsis: The story of Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official.

(left) James Franco and Sean Penn

15. Moonlight (2016) 
dir. Barry Jenkins
Synopsis: A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.

(left) Alex R. Hibbert and Jaden Piner

16. Mysterious Skin (2004)
dir.  Gregg Araki
Synopsis: A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth.

(left) Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet

17. Paris is Burning (1990)
dir. Jennie Livingston
Synopsis: A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.

Octavia St. Laurent

18. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
dir. Céline Sciamma
Synopsis: On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.

(left) Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant

19. Pride (2014)
dir. Matthew Warchus
Synopsis: U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.

George MacKay

20. Princess Cyd (2017)
dir. Stephen Cone
Synopsis: Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer.

(left) Rebecca Spence and Jessie Pinnick

21. Rocketman (2019)
dir. Dexter Fletcher
Synopsis: A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John‘s breakthrough years.

Taron Egerton

22. Saving Face (2004)
dir. Alice Wu
Synopsis: A Chinese-American lesbian and her traditionalist mother are reluctant to go public with secret loves that clash against cultural expectations.

Courtesy of Mongrel Media: (left) Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen

23. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
dir. Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
Synopsis: A documentary surveying the various Hollywood screen depictions of homosexuals and the attitudes behind them throughout the history of North American film.

(left) Quentin Crisp, Rob Epstein, and Jeffrey Friedman

24. Rafiki (2018)
dir. Wanuri Kahiu
Synopsis: “Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,” but Kena and Ziki long for something more. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.

(left) Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva

25. The Handmaiden (2016)
dir. Chan-wook Park
Synopsis: A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.

Tae-ri Kim

26. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
dir. Lisa Cholodenko
Synopsis: Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their biological father into their non-traditional family life.

(left) Annette Bening and Julianne Moore

27. The Normal Heart (2014)
dir. Ryan Murphy
Synopsis:  A gay activist attempts to raise H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. awareness during the early 1980s.

(left) Joe Mantello and Mark Ruffalo

28. The Watermelon Woman (1996)
dir. Cheryl Dunye
Synopsis: A young black lesbian filmmaker probes into the life of The Watermelon Woman, a 1930s black actress who played ‘mammy’ archetypes.

Cheryl Dunye

29. The Way He Looks (2014)
dir. Daniel Ribeiro
Synopsis: Leonardo is a blind teenager searching for independence. His everyday life, the relationship with his best friend, Giovana, and the way he sees the world change completely with the arrival of Gabriel.

(left) Fabio Audi and Ghilherme Lobo

30. Weekend (2011)
dir. Andrew Haigh
Synopsis: After a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what’s expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.

(left) Chris New and Tom Cullen

These are the films that I wanted to highlight. Some are my favourite films, some are underrated and some definitely need to be seen for educational purposes. I hope that many of you will watch some of the films listed above. Sending love to everyone and please have a happy and safe Pride month.

So please continue to fight for the Black community and the LGBTQAI+ community, now and forever.

Check out Amanda’s movie reviews, news, and festival coverage over at Candid Cinema!

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