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We all know titles like Call Me by Your Name, Brokeback Mountain, Carol, Moonlight and Boys Don’t Cry. But there’s a wealth of terrific LGBTQ movies out there that were either under-appreciated at the time of their release or too quickly forgotten, sometimes even with a big-league festival imprimatur and strong reviews behind them.
There are inconsistencies in the exposure even of the work of celebrated filmmakers. For instance, Robin Campillo’s pulsing chronicle of AIDS activism in early-’90s Paris, BPM (Beats Per Minute), was a critical success three years ago, while comparatively few people saw the same writer-director’s riveting 2015 drama, Eastern Boys, about the unexpected relationship between a middle-class Frenchman and a Ukrainian hustler.
To mark Pride 2020, The Hollywood Reporter‘s film critics chose 10 standout LGBTQ-themed movies that have largely fallen through the cracks and seem ripe for wider discovery.
Those slots could easily have been filled by documentaries alone, given how much excellent nonfiction filmmaking there’s been on queer subject matter, going back decades. For every classic — The Times of Harvey Milk, Paris Is Burning, etc. — there are innumerable others that young LGBTQ audiences may never have encountered.
Anyone looking for a crash course in queer history would do well to queue up Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s searing account of the Third Reich’s pink-triangle persecution campaign, Paragraph 175; Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg’s lively recap of the early gay rights movement, Before Stonewall; Marlon Riggs’ experimental investigation into black gay experience, Tongues Untied; Richard Schmiechen’s close look at the American psychologist whose studies led to homosexuality being declassified as a mental illness, Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker; Arthur Dong’s moving survey of military experience for gay World War II veterans, Coming Out Under Fire; and Jeffrey Schwarz’s Vito, an impassioned tribute to the life and activism of Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet, which itself became the subject of a more widely seen documentary.
Since that list could go on and on, we stuck with just one recent nonfiction entry that came and went too fast in theaters, plus nine narrative features that merit a fresh look.
— DAVID ROONEY
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