Films with Intercultural and Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Content
Movie nights and film series are often a popular way to educate others about what life is like in contexts they can’t go and experience directly. Movies and videos bring to life real people with real issues and personify them in ways that help people develop a deeper understanding of experiences they may not be able to conceptualize in other ways.
Having your campus GLBT group include an international film in their programming, or having your international students include a GLBT themed film with other international movies being shown is a great way to bring both areas together. Or if you are feeling adventurous, plan your own Global GLBT Film Series.
The following list has been provided as a sampling of the films that are available. While some may be out of print or difficult to find, many can be found on the shelf at your local Blockbuster Video. If you are lucky enough to have a local video store that stocks GLBT titles, or a good foreign film selection, you may find some of these as well.
Some of you may already have film libraries on your campus. Recommend that some of these titles be included. Or, if you have a budget and would like to purchase videos, many are quite inexpensive. They can be purchased from the internet at one of the following sites.
Facets Video: Maintains an extensive catalogue of independent and international films. You can request a hard copy of their catalogue or view their selections on line at http://www.facets.org/asticat.
Facets Video also maintains a rental service where you can rent from over 25,000 obscure and out of print videos. They will ship anywhere in the country. More information is available on the website or you can call them directly at 1-800-532-2387.
TLA Video: Carries a wide range of gay and lesbian themed movies available for purchase. The following website will take you to their main page http://www.tlavideo.com/main/ (warning, TLA aslo sells adult titles, and other variations of their URL will take you to the adult section)
Strand Releasing: A good collection of GLBT themed movies, many from foreign countries. http://www.strandrel.com/home_video/index.html
A champion, bisexual bicyclist misses a qualifying race time by two seconds and loses her place on the team. While overcoming her disappointment, she befriends a grumpy, Italian bike shop owner who teaches her there is more to victory than crossing the finish line first. (French with English subtitles.)
The Adventures of Felix (France)
Sexy and marvelous French film about a French/Arab gay man Felix who sets off on a journey in search of family with a backpack and a rainbow kite. Besides its air of whimsy and humor, The Adventures of Felix injects serious doses of realities like racism, crime and loneliness. (French with English subtitles).
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Australia)
Terence Stamp returns to the screen in this unlikely farce about three drag queens racing across the Australian outback in order to put on a show. Of course there is more to this film than unbelievably elaborate costumes, campily choreographed lip sync numbers and gay humor. It also tries to say something about love.
Alexandria . . . Why? (Egypt)
Winner of the Best Director Award at the 1979 Berlin Film Festival, this autobiographical WWII drama of illicit love is set in the teeming port of Alexandria in 1942. The movie has several plot threads revolving around a sexy teenager who is obsessed with musical theater and his career in acting. The story explores two taboo love affairs: one between a Muslim man and a Jewish woman, and the other between a handsome Egyptian man and a young and pretty British soldier. This entertaining drama is an Arabic treatment of a very taboo subject. It’s also vastly entertaining and worth watching. (Arabic with English subtitles)
Amazing Grace (Israel)
Amor de Hombre (Spain)
An intimate, warm and tender Spanish film about the very close friendship between a gay man and a straight woman.
Around the World the Lesbian Way (Various)*
Beautiful Thing (Great Britain)
This tender story of two teenager’s sexual coming of age in a working-class development in London is an inspiring, tender, emotional tale. Jamie is a reserved teen, close to his pub manager mom, who prefers old Hollywood musicals to sports. His friendship with his hunky neighbor Ste, a fellow student who suffers through a troubled family life, soon develops into a loving relationship. How the two boys tentatively handle their nascent sexual drives and how it affects their family and friends is handled in both a fresh and surprisingly upbeat fashion. A wonderful comedy-drama and possibly the best coming out film to date.
Body Without Soul (Czech Republic)
Prague has become a feasting ground for sexual tourists looking for young men. These boys move from their small towns throughout Eastern Europe to the city hoping to make a better life by working as hustlers and porno models. The film introduces a group of these young men, whose personal stories are told with unflinching honesty, providing a disturbing and graphic inside view of their exploitation, pain and pitiful existence. (Czech with English subtitles.)
Bugis Street (Singapore)*
The coming-of-age story of Lien, a wide-eyed 16-year-old girl who comes from a rural village to work in the Sing Sing Hotel, not knowing that the hotel is in the heart of Singapore’s red-light district and all the “female” residents are transvestites and transsexuals. Amid the colorful lives of the “girls,” Lien discovers the secrets and pains of love, sexuality and womanhood from her new “sisters.” (English and Cantonese with English subtitles.)
Butterflies on the Scaffold (Mariposas en el Andamio)
(Cuba) A rare documentary of a Havana suburb transformed by a group of beautiful and charismatic drag queens. The first and only “dragumentary” ever produced in Castro’s Cuba, the journey moves from on-stage action and backstage preparation to insightful interviews with community leaders, the performers and their families. (Spanish with English subtitles.)
Companions: Tales from the Closet (Sweden)
In this poignant and often humorous documentary about lesbian love, five elderly Swedish women discuss their lives during a period when homosexuality was considered a perversion. They trace their personal development from self-loathing and forbidden love to a hard-won sense of emotional liberation and social openness.
Crocodiles in Amsterdam
(Netherlands) Described as a “slapstick female buddy movie,” this Dutch feature stars two friends, Gino and Nina. Though thoroughly different, they manage to wrest friendship from the most inauspicious situations. Nina’s rebelliousness and Gino’s frivolity place them at each other’s mercy. (Dutch with English subtitles.)
(Guinea)This most unusual film takes us on a journey to a world few of us have seen. The first gay themed film from sub-Saharan Africa hails from Guinea. The story revolves around the tender but forbidden love two young men have for each other, but are kept apart by family and traditions. An important and compelling drama. (French with English subtitles)
The Delta (USA – Asian-American)
A poignantly twisted take on Huckleberry Finn in which a 17-year-old straight boy meets the poor Vietnamese son of an American GI, and the two take a lover’s ride down the Mississippi.
Director Stuart Marshall chronicles the events leading to a crucial chapter in gay and lesbian history: the imprisonment of homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. His film examines the “discovery” of homosexuality in the 1890s, and subsequent movements in Germany during the early years of this century demanding rights for gays and lesbians.
Dreamers of the Day (Canada)*
Andra, a writer and filmmaker seemingly in charge of her passion for women, is thrown off course by the appearance of Claire. In this romantic comedy, all the careful plans defining Andra’s current project vanish amidst a whirlwind of humor and desire.
The Einstein of Sex (Germany)
Equally political and sexy, this historical drama dramatizes the story of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld who pioneered gay studies in 19th century Berlin. And who’s accomplishments included establishing the first gay political group and the first medical practice specifically for gays. (German with English subtitles.)
From India comes this original and emotionally charged drama about the forbidden love between two women. The newly wed Sita is a young and beautiful woman who comes to live with her husband’s brother and his wife Rahda in New Dehli. Sita quickly finds her new world stifling. The older Rahda, on the other hand, offers the face of complacency, all the while holding within her rage and loneliness. The two women strike up a natural friendship which leads to smoldering passions and a secretive romance. A brave and invigorating love story that challenges the place of women in Indian society. (Filmed in English)
First Love and Other Pains/One of Them (Hong Kong/New Zealand)
Two short features that were audience favorites at gay film festivals around the world. A college student from Hong Kong falls for his English instructor–a frustrated British playwright–in First Love and Other Pains, Then, two gay teenagers grapple with the mixed-up emotions of youth and their emerging sexuality against the backdrop of the bleak and conservative early ’60s in One of Them (English and Cantonese with English subtitles.)
Fox and His Friends (Germany)
A richly textured and powerful drama of the relationship between two gay men of vastly different social backgrounds. A lower-class carnival entertainer finds himself suddenly flush after winning 500,000DM in a lottery. He soon becomes involved in an ill-fated romance with gold-digging Eugen. The eternal class struggle and continued exploitation of the poor and working class is tragically played out as he is swindled out of his money and self-respect. (German with English subtitles)
Full Speed (France)
This film delves into the tangled sexual lives of several young people in rural France. Samir, a handsome teenager of Arab descent, becomes moody and alienated after his friend dies in an accident. He rediscovers happiness when he befriends a group of young people. Samir falls in love with one of them and his obsession disturbs the group’s closeness and tranquility. This film successfully captures the drama of young lust, bisexuality, unrequited love and racial prejudice.
Get Real (Great Britain)
A gay English teenager struggles with coming of age and coming out of the closet, trying to attain his first boyfriend while also dealing with fear and gay-bashing at school. Based on Patrick Wilde’s play, What’s Wrong with Angry?
Happy Together (Hong Kong)
The title is purely ironic in Wong Kar-Wai’s melancholy dissection of a gay relationship in the throngs of dissolution. More of a mood piece rather than a traditional narrative-driven drama, the story begins with two handsome men, making passionate love. The two go on a tempestuous vacation to Argentina where they argue, run out of money, and drift apart. A bold look at the breakdown of love and intimacy. (Cantonese with English Subtitles)
Head On (Australia)
Based on the book “Loaded” by Christos Tsiolkas, this is a vivid portrait of a culturally and sexually confused youth Ari, a very closeted young man who lives with his traditionalist Greek family. This film takes vieers on an intimate, narcotic ride into Ari’s troubled world.
His Secret Life (Italy)
A visually stunning and incredibly moving film about a woman who discovers that her dead husband led a secret gay life. She becomes close friends with his lover and his tight circle of friends.
I Am My Own Woman (Germany)
The exceptional life of Eastern-bloc transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf is the subject of this film. Her story symbolizes both political resistance and sexual difference under a repressive regime. It’s a documentary with a touch of Brecht that features a true queer free spirit. (German with English subtitles.)
Johnny Greyeyes (USA – Native American)
A Native American woman finds love with her cellmate in a women’s prison in this film that celebrates self-respect and tolerance. One of very few films to address homosexuality within the Native American community. Winner of the Freedom Award at Los Angeles Outfest 2000.
An intimate portrait of Dod and Odd, two young men who leave their impoverished homes in the countryside of Thailand to find fame and fortune as transvestite performers in the glamorous cabarets of downtown Pattaya.
Latin Boys Go to Hell (USA – Latino)
A favorite on the gay film fest circuit: a steamy send-up of Latino telenovellas. A milieu drawn from New York nightlife, and the comedically tormented souls of Latin fags in love. A fantasy that leaves you wanting more” (L.A. Weekly).
Law of Desire (Spain)
Almodóvar’s foray into sexual obsession is a wonderfully overheated sexual melodrama which basks in its farcical intentions. The story revolves around Pablo, a popular gay filmmaker, and his sister Tina, who used to be his brother. Antonio Banderas also stars as a demented fan who attempts to win the director’s heart by any means possible. (Spanish with English subtitles.)
Like It Is (Great Britain)
The intoxicating world of London’s gay club scene comes alive in this sexy, touching and funny drama about two mismatched partners who fall in love in spite of their differences. One is a bare-knuckles brawler while the other is a rising music producer. The Who’s Roger Daltrey co-stars as a middle-aged associate working his own agenda. A bright and refreshingly positive look at gay life.
Love Reinvented (Various)
Twelve filmmakers from France, Algeria and the United States contributed to this anthology of short films about gays and lesbians trying to find personal connections, and possibly love, under the specter of AIDS. Together these films present a highly emotional plea for the embracing of life. Includes Close To (David Ottenhouse), So What? (Francois Dupeyron), One Moment (Pierre Salvadori), All Is Not Black (Philippe Faucon), Night Hustler (Anne Fontaine), Pregnant or Lesbian? (Francoise Decaux-Thomelet), Inside (Marion Vernoux), Tears of AIDS (Paul Vecchiali), Burn Rubber (Merzak Allouache), The Seagull (Nils Tavernier), An Ordinary Night (Jean-Claude Guiguet), and Cherish (Stephen Jones). In French and English with English subtitles. 2000, 70 mins.
Man of Flowers (Australia)
An unusual understated Australian black comedy/drama about a sexually repressed lover of art and flowers who, each Wednesday, pays a beautiful artist’s model to perform an impassioned striptease to the strains of classical music. His lonely life, caused by childhood sexual traumas, is enlivened and upset as he reluctantly becomes involved with her tumultuous personal life. Lisa leaves her no-talent artist boyfriend and enters into a relationship with her friend Jane, an attractive lesbian. The scenes of the two women together are handled so matter-of-factly that it makes bisexuality seem to be the norm.
Mama…I Have Something to Tell You (Venezuela)
The awkward and painful occasion of “coming out” to close friends and relatives is captured in this autobiographical video in which the filmmaker reveals his homosexuality to his mother. Further insights into this issue are provided by other Latino lesbians and gays, discussing family responsibilities and the importance of honesty. (Spanish with English subtitles.)
Ma Vie en Rose (Belgium)
A precious Belgian film about a little boy who wants to be a little girl, Ma Vie en Rose is a fantastic story about being true to one’s self. Ludovic delights in wearing dresses and makeup, even at inopportune moments like his family’s “welcome to the neighborhood” party. An embarrassment to his family, Ludo perseveres with his desires, unwavered by shame, until his family is torn asunder from the stress his behavior has caused. While there are several painful scenes of Ludo being harassed, rejected, and ridiculed, Ludo’s courage is inspirational. He forces his family to accept him, rather than change for their sake. (French with English subtitles)
My Beautiful Laundrette (Great Britain)
An unpredictable and charming social comedy. A young English-born Pakistani and his punk friend/lover together brave the ugly spectre of racism and homophobia as they transform a dingy East End laundrette into a profitable and glitzy emporium. An early and definitive example of New Queer Cinema, for the two gay characters are open and matter-of-fact, loving and sexual and, most importantly, not troubling to themselves.
Paris Is Burning (USA – African-American/Hispanic)
Filmmaker Jenny Livingston spent several years interviewing members of the black and Hispanic gay community and attending their lavish social functions.
Possible Loves (Brazil)
A truly original and romantic trilogy about the love of Carlos and Julia. Possible Loves presents three versions of what happens fifteen years after she stands him up at a movie theater. In one version the gorgeous Carlos is gay, in the second, he’s a party boy lives with his mom and in the third, he’s in a loveless marriage.
Set in Milan, Italy where Fernanda, a nineteen-year-old Brazilian transgendered person works the men for money. Her dream is to find a husband and lead the life of a “normal” housewife. One day she meets Gianni, a handsome married guy. Is he the man of her dreams? (Italian and Portugese with English subtitles)
Salut Victor (Canada)*
This charming tear-jerker follows two older gay men and their budding romance. Victor is gay, and his exuberant spirit inspires Phillipe to finally share some of his own unique spirit. (French with English subtitles.)
From the creators of Lakki–The Boy Who Grew Wings comes this sweet story of sexual confusion set in the ultra-liberal social atmosphere of modern Norway. Seventeen-year-old Sebastian and his buddy Ulf are the perfect pals, until one of them decides he wants more. Joy and gentle comedy follow as the boys struggle to understand this new element in their relationship. Norwegian with English subtitles.
Second Skin (Spain)
Diego, gay man hopelessly in love with a closeted, married man Alberto who lives a double life. Alberto falls in love beginning an affair with Diego who is unaware that he is seeing a married man. (Spanish with English subtitles)
Seducing Maarya (Canada – East Indian)
A seriously funny, family sex comedy set primarily in the world of East Indians living in Montreal. When Zakir is not working at his father’s restaurant, he’s performing with his band or secretly busy with his white lover Michael. He’s not the marrying kind, but traditions must be upheld and he is nudged into an arranged marriage to the beautiful, demure Maarya. Beautifully drawn characters and an increasingly crazy story of forbidden loves and cultural taboos lead to unforgettable melodramatic farce.
See the Sea (France)
Set at an isolated seaside resort where Sasha tends to her baby and waits for her husband. Sexual tensions begin when Tatiana, sets up her tent nearby. Tatiana ingratiates herself into the lonely woman’s life with increasingly ominous tension tinged with lesbian attraction. Also includes “A Summer Dress” a remarkable short film from Ozon about two adorable young gay lovers who toy with gender and sexuality. (In French with subtitles)
Set me Free (Canada)
In Lea Pool’s latest autobiographical film we meet the wonderful director as a thirteen-year-old Canadian girl. Karine Vanesse is radiant as the thirteen year old Hanna, a budding young lesbian. A moving and sensuous tale of a young lesbian girl who finds hope even in the dark corners of her life.
Show me Love (Sweden)
A tender lesbian coming-out story. This comedic, romantic Swedish drama is set in the backwater town Åmål and follows Agnes, a serious, dark-haired high school outsider who secretly falls in love with the carefree Elin, one of the cool girls. The story of their developing relationship is told in a sympathetic, uplifting and wonderfully romantic fashion. (Swedish with English subtitles)
Three Dutch youths find themselves at the crossroads of adulthood in this arresting drama. Seeking to escape their working-class destinies, they dream of fame and fortune racing motorcycles, but are sidetracked by the fateful intervention of a scheming hash-slinger. A penetrating slice-of-life which incorporates first love, youthful shenanigans, teen suicide, coming out and comaraderie. (Dutch with English subtitles)
There Is No Pain in Paradise (En el Paraiso no Existe el Dolor) (Mexico)
A compelling story of courage, this Mexican drama deals with friendship, grief caused by AIDS and accepting one’s sexuality. Manuel is a 35-year-old Monterrey public relations executive who is struggling to come to terms with his friend Juan’s death from AIDS. Manuel inexplicably gets caught up in a personal journey, meeting a series of strangers who have a profound effect on his action and emotions. An ambitious film that may lose some viewers, but it is also one of the few gay-themed films to come out of Mexico.
Twice a Woman (Netherlands)
Set in Amsterdam, the tale begins immediately with a pick-up. Laura is a successful 41-year-old restorer. She meets Sylvia, a charming young girl, barely half her age, on the street and takes her back home. Sylvia soon moves in and they face a challenging relationship.
The Sum of Us (Australia)
In this gay romantic comedy, a young man (Russell Crowe) finds the search for Mr. Right troubled by his busy-body father. Dad is just concerned for a son who seems unable to find that special someone. Altogether it’s a light, amiable tale that is darkened by unexpected misfortune. In sunny Australia, however, things always get bright again. Based on David Stevens’ play.
Under One Roof (USA – Asian-American)
Daniel is a closeted, gay Chinese-American who lives with his mother whose live is turned upside down when a young gay man named James rents a room in their house. Daniel and James fall hotly and deeply in love, forcing Daniel to come to terms with his true self and his family. A clever and erotic romantic comedy.
The Watermelon Woman (USA – African-American)
Prompting an infamous little ruckus at the NEA because of its interracial lesbian lovemaking scene, Cheryl Dunye’s startlingly fresh debut is a film within a film. Dunye, playing herself, is a young black woman making a documentary about Fae Richards, an obscure black actress known as “the Watermelon Woman.” As Cheryl doggedly researches Fae’s life, she discovers that the actress had a romance with her white lesbian filmmaker. Like Fae, Cheryl has an affair with a white woman, Diana (Guinevere Turner, Go Fish), and both Fae and Cheryl question this attraction.
Wild Reeds (France)
One of the most affecting depictions of gay first love ever committed to screen, this tender drama touchingly deals with friendship, coming out and teenage sexuality, all set against the political turmoil of the 1962 French/Algerian conflict. A poignant drama that captures the universal esctasy, pain and loneliness of young love.
(French with English subtitles)
Women from Down Under (Australia/New Zealand)
Australian and New Zealand directors made these lesbian shorts. Italian food, Bulgarian folksinging, truckers and the morning after are just some of the surprising elements in these entertaining works. Included are Peach, Just Desserts, Excursion to the Bridge of Friendship and Jumpin’ the Gun. 52 mins.
Woubi Cheri (Ivory Coast)
From the bustling Ivory Coast city of Abidjan where the cell phone businessmen and abject povery meet comes this surprising and intimate documentary focusing on the diverse lives of sevreal gay men, transvestites and transgendered people. What unites them all is that they are all amazingly and defiantly out of the closet. An eye-opening look at African queer sexuality that offers viewers a glimpse at these people’s everyday lives and loves. (French with English subtitles)
The Wedding Banquet (Taiwan)
This comedy follows the family drama of a Taiwanese gay man living in New York who is constantly being nagged by his family to get married. Living with his American boyfriend he arranges a marriage-of-convenience. The plan backfires, however, when his parents announce they are coming to New York to meet the bride!
*Currently out of print. You may want to call Facets Video rentals department at 1-800-532-2387 to see if this is available for rent.
Claudio is a handsome Italian banker whose life has always been one of routine. HIV-positive, he follows a set daily regimen without unfailing consistency. Claudio’s life changes dramatically when he connects with the irresistible Andrea. Features five excellent lesbian subject films: Kelli Simpson’s This Marching Girl Thing (19 mins.), from Australia, starring Toni Collette and Matt Day (Muriel’s Wedding); Katrin Barben’s Casting (20 mins.), from Germany, an edgy erotic film, as well as Barben’s Go Girl (7 mins.), from Switzerland, a light-hearted look at the potential girl of your dreams; Shawna Dempsey’s and Lorri Millan’s A Day in the Life of a Bull Dyke (20 mins.), from Canada, a delightful comedy-drama; and from Scotland, Steven Rimkus’ poignant and romantic Dancing (22 mins.), with film star Sylvia Sims, recalling a passionate love affair in her youth.A dramatic story is told in this film about the friendship between 18-year-old Jonathon and 30-year-old Thomas. Jonathon places all his hope for happiness in Thomas, who is HIV positive. (Hebrew with English subtitles.)