To celebrate Pride month, staff and lecturers at Screen and Film School Brighton have pulled together a list of recommendations on what they believe are some of the most essential LGBTQ+ films and TV shows of recent years. So, without further ado (and in no particular order), let’s jump right on into it.
Emma Topping – Independent Freelance Lecturer
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Jennie Livingston’s documentary details the origins, creativity, vibrancy and drama of the 1980s New York ball scene. It’s a portrait of a moment in LGBTQ+ history that shone incredibly bright. Over the seven years of the film’s creation, Harlem’s drag balls were showcased in all their splendour, bringing a hitherto underground scene into much greater public awareness.
POSE (2018 – 2021)
Now in its third and final season, POSE not only stars but is also written by members and advocates of the Trans community. This multi-award-winning drama provides a necessary and timely lesson – as well as a righteous celebration of the US queer community’s ballroom culture in the late eighties and early nineties.
Ben Cookesley – Technician Manager
An American biographical film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
The BAFTA-winning film was directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, My Own Private Idaho) with a powerful performance from Sean Penn in the title role as Milk.
Luke Perrett – Technical Assistant
The Oscar-winning Moonlight is about a young African-American man who grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.
Critically lauded and loved by cinema lovers and critics alike, Moonlight is already considered a modern-day classic.
Beccy Blaker – Academic Administrator
Produced by actress and LGBTQ+ advocate Laverne Cox, who rose to prominence in hit US series Orange Is The New Black, Disclosure offers incredibly powerful and insightful accounts on how Trans people have been represented from the early days of film right up until present-day Hollywood.
Isabelle Fauchet – Independent Freelance Lecturer
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Last year, my 14-year-old daughter suggested I watch Call Me by Your Name which is a definite must-see. It’s a 2017 coming-of-age romantic drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino. Its screenplay, by James Ivory, who also co-produced, is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman.
It centres on a blossoming romantic relationship between an intellectually precocious and curious 17-year-old American-Italian Jewish boy named Elio Perlman and a visiting 24-year-old American Jewish scholar named Oliver in 1980s Italy.
Emma Persson – Student Support Officer
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)
Documentary about Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, prominent figures in gay liberation and transgender rights movement in New York City from the 1960s to the 1990s and co-founders of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. The film centres on activist Victoria Cruz‘s investigation into Johnson’s death in 1992, which was initially ruled a suicide by police despite suspicious circumstances.
Tracy Hill- Admissions and Enrolments Manager
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Maybe not essential viewing, but it is such a beautiful and tragic story. A gender-queer punk-rock singer from East Berlin tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/bandmate who stole her songs.
George Verrall – Estates and Facilities
The Imitation Game (2014)
A tragic true story of the man who broke the Nazi code of communication during WWII. Persecuted for being queer, and later arrested for it, Alan Turing saved countless lives without recognition.
Directed by Morten Tyldum (Passengers, Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters), The Imitation Game features brilliant lead performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightly and won an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.
Tom Boddy – Applicant Experience Manager
Set in the New York City during the 1950s, Carol is a multi-award-winning film by Director Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, Velvet Goldmine) starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara who both give incredible performances as Carol Aird and Therese Belivet, two women from different classes and background who get tangled in a beguiling love affair.
The film received a ten-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival international press screening and premiere and was voted the best LGBTQ film of all time by the British Film Institute in 2016.
It’s A Sin (2021)
This powerful series from friend of Screen and Film School Brighton, Russell T. Davies follows a group of gay men who move to London in 1981. After forming a tight bond, the group must deal the fast-developing HIV/AIDS crisis that hit the UK and struck fear and confusion into the gay community.
Throughout the five episodes, the group of friends are shown living through an entire decade until 1991, as they become determined to live fiercely despite the threat that faces them.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Based on the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx and set in the 1960s, Brokeback Mountain depicts a love story between two men and the impact that it has on them, their marriages and their wider, but parochial town of Signal Wyoming.
Desert Hearts (1985)
Set in late 1950s Nevada, university professor Vivian Bell arrives in Reno to establish residency in the state and obtain a quick divorce from her husband. During her six-week stay in the guest house of a ranch, daughter of the property’s owner, Cay Rivvers, introduces herself and helps Vivian begin to understand herself more truly.
Often regarded as one of the first wide release films to present a positive portrayal of lesbian sexuality, Donna Deitch presents her characters with a welcome tenderness. A landmark in LGBTQ+ cinema, and a great pick if you want to avoid the ever-increasing trope of ‘queer trauma’.
Andrea Slater – Head of 3rd Year
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Written and Directed by Céline Sciamma, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire has sold all over the world and won her the best screenplay award in Cannes as well as a Queer Palm. The film is a period drama set in the late 18th century, but with a very contemporary resonance.
Portrait painter, Marianne, is summoned to a remote Brittany island to paint a young, headstrong and rebellious aristocratic woman, Héloise. Héloise, who is fiercely resistant to the marriage plans her mother is making for her. The attrition between Marianne and Héloise is obvious ― but so is their mutual attraction.
Sciamma was trying to move away from traditional filmic representations of the relationship between the artist and model and was attacking the traditional “mythology of the objectified woman”, seen always from the men’s point of view.”
Helen Swanwick-Thorpe – Freelance Lecturer
Vita & Virginia (2019)
Socialite Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) and literary icon Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) run in different circles in 1920s London. Despite the odds, the magnetic Vita and the beguiling Virginia forge an unconventional affair, set against the backdrop of their own strikingly contemporary marriages;,which inspired one of Woolf’s most iconic novels, ‘Orlando’.
Anton Rogers – Head of Student Services
Tales of the City (2019)
There have been various miniseries’ based on Armistead Maupin’s books of the same name, including the original 1993 version, which was recently made available on Netflix. Tales of the City gives an accessible and well-rounded introduction to some (US-centric) essential queer history with a wonderful performance from Olympia Dukakis (RIP).
The staff and lecturers at Screen and Film School Brighton wish you all a happy Pride Month. We hope this list provides you with some new and enjoyable cinematic experiences.
Be sure to keep an eye on our social media channels in the coming weeks for more posts celebrating Pride Month.