As we’re midway through Pride Month, HUNGER brings you its list of boundary-pushing queer flicks to keep you entertained throughout the next few weeks. Some will make you cry and some will make you laugh, but these films all had a huge cultural impact in one way or another as they importantly detailed the experiences of the queer community.
1. Moonlight (2016)
A visually stunning yet heartbreaking coming-of-age story, Moonlight is one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the last decade. Winning an Oscar for best picture in 2017, among a host of other awards, it’s an essential piece of cinema history. The film is a nuanced and compassionate exploration of sexuality, masculinity and identity. If you’ve somehow not seen the A24-produced flick, Pride is the time.
2. But I’m a cheerleader (1999)
Now, just a slight diversion from Moonlight’s heavy subject matter. But I’m a Cheerleader is a much less serious, all-out fun kinda film. Megan, played by Natasha Lyonne, believes she’s a straight girl and so is stunned when her parents decide to send her to a conversion camp, True Directions, only to end up falling in love with one of the other girls there. The romantic comedy is incredibly tongue and cheek, never taking itself too seriously but still tackling issues that are still, unfortunately, prevalent today.
3. Pariah (2011)
Starring Adepero Oduye as 17-year-old Alike, Pariah is a cinematic masterpiece that captures the sweetness and pain of self-discovery. Alike lives a double life, dressing femininely at home under her mother’s sometimes wrathful eye whilst exploring black lesbian cultures at the clubs she visits away from home. A poignant display of the complications of family values forced onto young people, Pariah is an essential part of queer cinematic canon.
4. Portrait of a lady on fire (2019)
Set in the 1770s, a young daughter of a French countess develops a mutual attraction to the female artist commissioned to paint her wedding portrait. Starring Adèle Haena and Noèmie Merlant who give stunning performances, Portrait of a Lady On Fire is a historical romantic drama that has to be seen to be believed.
5. Blues is the warmest colour (2013)
Any time a film approaches the three-hour runtime mark, it’s in dangerous territory. You could either be clamouring for more or excruciatingly counting down the seconds until it’s over. Luckily this Abdellatif Kechiche-directed flick is the former. 15-year-old protagonist Adele finds herself looking for love after breaking up with her boyfriend and eventually confides in the blue-haired Emma. As she begins to explore her sexuality she builds a close relationship with Emma and ultimately finds herself through love and loss.
7. Rafiki (2018)
Rafiki details the lives of two Kenyan natives, Kena and Ziki, who are drawn to each other due to their father’s running against each other for seats in the County Assembly. Eventually, their friendship turns into love, which is incredibly frowned upon in their community due to Kenyan laws not allowing homosexuality. Despite the ridicule they face over their sexuality, their isolation only makes their bond stronger.
8. Paris is Burning (1990)
This documentary focuses on drag queens and their “house” culture, which provides a sense of community and acceptance in stark contrast to the socially shunned performers. Also touching on issues of racism and poverty, the film features a number of interviews with renowned drag queens such as Dorian Corey, Willi Ninja and Pepper LaBeija.
9. Kajillionaire (2020)
The quirky yet serious flick follows a family of con artists who have trained their daughter, Dolio, for 26 years to do nothing but swindle and scam. As the family invites a stranger, Melonie, to join in on their latest scam, Dolio falls for the new addition to their team. While the intricacies of queer relationships aren’t explored as thoroughly as some of the other films on this list, Kajillionaire takes a more subtle yet equally impactful approach.
10. Flee (2021)
To round off the list we thought we’d go for something a little different. Flee is an animated docudrama directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen and written by Rasmussen and Amin Nawabi, telling the true story of Nawabi’s journey as a young refugee from Afghanistan to Denmark. As he prepares to marry his longtime boyfriend, Nawabi finds himself preoccupied with painful memories of a complex past he’s become accustomed to keeping to himself.