There are several notable films by, for, or about LGBTQ folks coming to cinemas this spring. Here is a rundown of 10 titles and two film series featuring queer talent being released in the next few months. (All dates subject to change).
BAM’s third annual retrospective series, “Queering the Canon,” features five influential LGBTQ films from the vaults. The program opens April 6 with a 4K DCP Restoration of Gregg Araki’s naughty and raunchy 1995 feature, “The Doom Generation” (before the film is re-released on April 7). Other titles include a 35mm restoration of Lizzie Borden’s incendiary lesbian classic, “Born in Flames”; a 4K restoration of Toshio Matsumoto’s 1969 eye-popping underground classic, “Funeral Parade of Roses”; a 4K restoration of the 2002 “trans-butch” buddy crime-comedy, “By Hook or by Crook” co-directed and co-starring Harry Dodge and trans filmmaker Silas Howard; and out gay filmmaker John Greyson’s landmark 1993 AIDS musical, “Zero Patience.”
Pakistani director/cowriter Saim Sadiq’s extraordinary feature debut, “Joyland,” depicts the relationship that develops between the married Haider (Ali Junejo) and the trans Biba (Alina Khan) when he takes a job as one of her backup dancers. This gorgeous drama was temporarily banned in Pakistan. But it absolutely deserves to be seen, and not just because the trans character is treated with compassion and dignity.
Out queer actress Ariela Barer cowrote and stars in “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” a tense, cogent thriller, based on Andreas Malm’s manifesto. A group of activists, including a lesbian couple (played by out actress Sasha Lane and Jayme Lawton), execute a plan to detonate a raised section of a pipeline in Texas to raise awareness of environmental issues.
The glorious documentary, “Little Richard: I Am Everything,” uses fantastic archival clips to showcase the legendary musician, who insisted he was the “architect and emancipator” of rock and roll — and he was not wrong. From his breakthrough hit, “Tutti Frutti” (with its queer lyrics), to his renouncing his homosexuality and focusing on God, as well as his substance abuse and financial struggles, this affectionate documentary provides a worthwhile appreciation of the showman’s legacy.
The Greek import, “Broadway,” is a queer crime drama about a motley group of pickpockets who hole up in an abandoned theater. The crew includes a gay couple as well as a man who dresses as a woman as part of a disguise and falls in love. The film promises gender-bending and musical numbers in a film noir milieu. Sounds fabulous.
“Spotlight: Apichatpong Weerasethakul” is a retrospective of the out gay Thai filmmaker’s career, including some rarely screened shorts. Of queer interest is his hypnotic 2004 feature, “Tropical Malady” (which is on the Sight & Sound 100 list), about the budding romance between a young soldier and a country boy. It, along with his other “slow cinema” features—“Blissfully Yours,” “Syndromes and a Century,” “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” and “Memoria” — are admirable for their ability to entrance viewers.
The timely documentary, “Anxious Nation,” directed by Vanessa Roth — she won an Oscar for her 2007 short documentary, “Freeheld,” about the fight for LGBTQ rights in New Jersey—examines the mental health of adolescents. There is a focus on LGBTQ youth, who have an extremely high level of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide.
The drama “Queens of the Qing Dynasty,” written and directed by Ashley McKenzie, has Star (Sara Walker in her debut), a suicidal teenager, befriending An (Ziyin Zheng), a genderqueer volunteer she meets when she is hospitalized. “Queens of the Qing Dynasty” chronicles the intimate connection these two lost, lonely people form over time.
“L’Immensità,” set in 1970s Rome, has Clara (Penélope Cruz) navigating life with her three children. The eldest, Adriana (Luana Giuliani), is dressing and identifying as Andrew and his behavior prompts whispers and disapproval. However, Andrew finds his strength in asserting his masculinity without shame or fear. Giuliani is terrific capturing Andrew’s internal conflict, and Cruz is divine.
Out gay actor Russel Tovey and singer Celine Dion have supporting roles, respectively, as a gay man and Celine Dion, in “Love Again,” a romantic comedy-drama about a woman (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) whose texts to her dead husband are received by a stranger (Sam Heughan) who now has his old phone number. Will they meet up and fall in love? That’s like asking, will Celine Dion sing?
Director/cowriter Andrea Pallaoro’s drama, “Monica,” has the trans title character (Trace Lysette) returning home to make peace with her dying mother, Eugenia (Patricia Clarkson). Monica has been estranged from her family for more than a decade, after Eugenia threw her out of the house, so expect this reunion to be uneasy.
Set in 1980s Britain, when the antigay Clause 28 was in effect, “Blue Jean” revolves around a closeted gym teacher (Rosy McEwen) whose livelihood — along with her relationship with her girlfriend Viv (Kerrie Hayes) — is jeopardized when she encounters one of her students (Lucy Halliday) in a lesbian bar.