From: Silver Screen

Weekend Watchlist: Check out these works by LGBTQ+ filmmakers

Representation in film is often thought of in terms of actors, but representation behind the screen is just as important. Here are five films with authentic and relatable LGBTQ+ narratives, some inspired by real life. 

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

“But I’m a Cheerleader” is satirical comedy about a high school cheerleader (Natasha Lyonne) sent to conversion therapy camp by her puritanical parents who suspect her of lesbianism. Ironically, the camp helps her explore her sexuality and find love. Though a documentary is perhaps a more informative look into the history of conversion therapy, “But I’m A Cheerleader” is a relatively lighthearted watch, ​​explicitly poking fun at the entire concept. If the premise isn’t already convincing, drag icon RuPaul appears in the film as a conversion therapy counsler who comically brands himself as an “ex-gay.”

The team behind “But I’m A Cheerleader” includes director Jamie Babbit, an openly lesbian woman, and writer Brian Wayne Peterson, an openly gay man. The film was also produced by Babbitt's former spouse, Andrea Sperling. Despite mixed reviews from critics, today the film is a cult classic. 

“But I’m a Cheerleader” is available to stream on Tubi. 

Saving Face (2004)

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In “Saving Face,” Wilhelmina (Michelle Krusiec) is a lesbian and hiding her recent relationship from her family, while her mother, Hwei-Lan (Joan Chen) is shunned from her family after an unexpected, out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Despite initial conflict, Wil and her mother eventually come to understand each other as their stories grow and intersect. “Saving Face” is heartwarming, important, and blooms with romance. The title refers to the Chinese concept of face; meaning honor and social status, especially in a familial sense. Face is a concept Wilhelmina and her mother struggle with throughout the film in dealing with their relationships. 

“Saving Face” is written and directed by Alice Wu, also known for the Netflix sensation “The Half of It.” As an Asian-American lesbian, Wu drew loosely from her own experiences in creating the film — the story is authentic and personal, but still relatable for many audiences. 

“Saving Face” is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. 

Pariah (2011)

In “Pariah,” 17-year-old Alike (Adepero Oduye) is beginning to embrace her identity as a lesbian, going to clubs with her friend Laura (Pernell Walker) to meet girls. Disapproving of her friendship with Laura, Alike's mother (Kim Wayans) arranges for her to spend time with Bina (Aasha Davis), a friends’ daughter. Despite the circumstances of their relationship, Bina and Alike begin a complicated sexual relationship, sharing a glimpse into each girl’s sexual self-reckoning. “Pariah” is cautiously hopeful and strikes a balance between realism and a happy ending. 

Dee Rees, the openly lesbian director, says she drew from her own experiences while creating Pariah, which was originally her grad school thesis project. 

“Pariah” is available to stream on HBO Max. 

Maurice (1987)

Maurice,” based on the book of the same name by E.M. Forester, is both an LGBTQ+ film and a period drama. The film follows Maurice Hall (James Wilby) and Clive Durham (Hugh Grant), two college students who embark on a risky but passionate affair as the conflicts between their professional and personal lives complicate their relationship. With a collegiate ambiance similar to “Dead Poets’ Society,” the film’s setting serves as a serene background to a turbulent love story. 

The film was directed by James Ivory and produced by his partner Ismail Merchant. Ivory is also known for writing the screenplay of “Call Me by Your Name.” 

“Maurice” is available to stream on Tubi now. 

The T Word (2014)

“The T Word” is an Emmy-winning documentary about transgender youth from different backgrounds and dealing with issues ranging from preparing for school dances to parents refusing to use a child’s correct pronouns. The documentary’s subjects range from 12 to 24-years-old. Through each individual story, the documentary highlights distinct issues young trans people face — while L’lerret faces higher levels of policing as a trans woman of color, Daniella receives a lower standard of medical care from nurses after disclosing her identity as trans. “The T Word” is an inspiring and eye opening collection of stories. 

“The T Word” was directed by Laverne Cox, a transgender actress and filmmaker. Besides “The T Word,” Cox is known for starring in “Orange is The New Black.” 

“The T Word” is available to stream on YouTube. 

life@theeagleonline.com


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