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Powerful LGBTQ+ Films
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Rob Epstein

Director

In the spirit of Pride Month, I chose these six LGBTQ+ films for their unique and powerful cinematic impressions of the human experience which continue to reverberate in my consciousness.

Rob Epstein was the first openly gay director to win an Oscar for The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), which was also the first LGBTQ+ film to be recognized by the Academy. His most recent film is Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.

1

Tangerine

2015

WHERE TO WATCH

A visually inventive, low-budget trans comedy with a big heart. Fierce trans women of color realness shot on the iPhone 5 to boot. What could be better?

WHERE TO WATCH
Tangerine
2015
87 Mins | R
A hooker scours Los Angeles for the pimp/boyfriend who cheated on her while she was in jail.


2

End of the Century

2019

WHERE TO WATCH

A poetic, soulful story of love, dreams, and aloneness. Set in Barcelona, with a complex structure that skillfully plays with time, it has one of the best cinema seduction love scenes ever, shot in one long hand-held take. Sexy, erotic, and brutally honest, it’s a reminder of how rare it (still) is to see male-male intimacy in movies, despite this lived reality for so many of us.

WHERE TO WATCH
End of the Century
2019
84 Mins | 12
After spending a day together in Barcelona, two men realize they may have met years earlier.


3

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

2019

WHERE TO WATCH

A layered masterwork of forbidden love. A beautiful French period drama entirely from the perspective of the female gaze.

WHERE TO WATCH
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
2019
121 Mins | K12
A woman develops a mutual attraction to a female artist commissioned to paint her portrait in 1770.


4

Portrait of Jason

Filmed over the course of an evening — and a lot of liquor — a young Black male hustler regales us with his wild tales. Shirley Clarke’s radical film was way ahead of its time and remains a vivid peek into a subculture from another era.

WHERE TO WATCH
Portrait of Jason
1967
105 Mins
Filmmaker Shirley Clarke interviews a male hustler full of stories, in the cinema-verite style.


5

Tongues Untied

The late Marlon Riggs’s brilliant and visionary look at racism and homophobia in the USA. Working in a kaleidoscopic myriad of forms, from poetry to performance to personal testimony told directly to the camera, Riggs’s audacious film bursts with joy, tenderness, and rage.

WHERE TO WATCH
Tongues Untied
1989
55 Mins
Filmmaker Marlon Riggs gives a voice to communities of gay black men, presenting their perspectives.


6

Word Is Out

Made in 1977, the first feature-length documentary made about being LGBTQ by a collective of lesbian and gay filmmakers (full disclosure, I was one of the them). Twenty-six individuals in the last quarter of the 20th century tell us who they are at a time when the world was only just beginning to listen.

WHERE TO WATCH
Word Is Out


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