The 10 Best LGBT Films of 2015

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i-am-michael-x750_2It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to carol. Or at least, it’s time to sing our praises forCarol and the other LGBT cinematic standouts of the year.

Making a film with LGBT characters and themes is no easy task, even in a post–marriage equality country like the United States. Yet around the world, brave filmmakers continue to try, and they often succeed in creating stories that increase visibility and move the cultural needle for the LGBT community.

The Advocate salutes all these filmmakers and would like to give special recognition to several standout productions. Thus, here is a list of 10 of our favorite films from 2015 (in no specific order).

The New Girlfriend
Channeling Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock, The New Girlfriend is a gender-bending new film by François Ozon (Swimming Pool). Set in France, the plot centers on the relationship between the characters of Claire and David. David’s wife (and Claire’s best friend) has recently died, and her passing makes David come to terms with their gender identity. Claire is at first alarmed, and then is seduced by “The New Girlfriend” in her life, as were we.

Carol
It’s New York in the 1950s. You’re working as a shopgirl in a department store, when suddenly, you lock eyes with a gorgeous older woman in a fur coat. You sell her a train set, but she forgets her gloves on the counter. Perhaps you should give her a call. So begins the electrifying romance between Therese (Rooney Mara) and Carol (Cate Blanchett), women who develop a friendship and then something far deeper in a time when same-sex love still dared not speak its name. Directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), the film was adapted for the screen by Phyllis Nagy from The Price of Salt, a 1952 romance novel written by Patricia Highsmith under the cover of a pen name. At the time, the story was highly unconventional, as its lesbian characters did not die or “meet the right man” or join a convent. It took decades before the world was ready for a film adaptation. At long last, audiences can see Carol in all its glory.

The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne delivers an astounding performance as 20th-century transgender icon Lili Elbe in director Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. An adaptation of a book of the same name by David Ebershoff, the film follows the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener (played by Alicia Vikander) as their relationship evolves while the two navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey to discover her true self. “I hope others are as inspired by Lili’s story as I was and continue to be,” Redmayne told The Advocate. “At a time in which there were no predecessors that she knew of, she still had the absolute knowledge in herself of who she was and what she needed to do to liberate herself. The fact that she valued life and authenticity enough to give her everything and anything, I think that is extraordinary.”

Grandma
Grandma marks Lily Tomlin’s first lead role in a film in nearly three decades, which is one reason to celebrate. Another reason? The lesbian actress portrays a lesbian character — Ellie, a poet whose partner has recently died. The film, which has generated much-deserved acclaim for Tomlin’s performance, centers on the relationship between Ellie and her granddaughter as they go on a road trip together and confront their pain. What are grandmas for, darlin’?

Tangerine
Tangerine is one of the year’s most acclaimed independent darlings. Directed by Sean S. Baker and Chris Bergoch, the film follows the story of two friends, who also happen to be transgender sex workers, Alexandra and Sin-Dee Rella, across the backdrop of the saturated streets of Hollywood. And it’s shot entirely on an iPhone 5s. The story goes: Sin-Dee, after being released from prison, discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with a white cisgender woman. Furious, she goes on a hunt for revenge and solicits Alexandra as an accomplice. And in the process, the friends show the audience a side of Los Angeles that is rarely seen in media. Nominated for four Spirit Awards, including acting nods for its leads, Tangerine is a must-see film.

Bessie
Queen Latifah stars as legendary bisexual blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO film Bessie. Directed by out filmmaker Dee Rees (Pariah), the production charts Smith’s rise to fame through the 1920s and ’30s as one of the greatest talents of her time. It also stars Oscar winner Mo’Nique as her mentor (and rumored lover) Ma Rainey. Ooh-la-la! Don’t miss this Emmy Award–winning production.

I Am Michael
Michael Glatze, a former LGBT activist, ignited a firestorm of controversy when he publicly renounced his homosexuality and became an antigay born-again Christian. This “ex-gay” story is told cinematically in I Am Michael by writer and director Justin Kelly, who based the screenplay on a New York Times Magazine article by Benoit Denizet-Lewis. Glatze himselfpraised lead actor James Franco, whose performance he credits with being part of his own “gigantic healing process.” The rest of the cast, including Zachary Quinto as his ex-partner, do a wonderful job of telling a story that could have been quite judgmental but succeeds in recounting one man’s struggle for identity.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato
Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, known for his 1925 classic Battleship Potemkin, is depicted in new, sensual light in the international biopic Eisenstein in Guanajuato. The film, which shows Eisenstein’s relationship with another man during his time in Mexico, has incited controversy in Eisenstein’s native Russia, which considers him a national hero from its cultural past. Directed by British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, Eisenstein in Guanajuato has been attacked for its accuracy (or lack thereof), but it has already proved itself a relevant, passionate, and much-needed film in a world that still tries to erase LGBT history.

Boy Meets Girl
Boy Meets Girl is a romantic comedy that crosses gender lines and is set (and was filmed in) rural Kentucky. The plot centers around four characters in a small town: a transgender woman (Michelle Hendley), a barista who aspires to be a fashion designer, a car mechanic (Michael Welch), a Southern belle (Alexandra Turshen), and a military veteran. As each of them grapples with love and identity, Boy Meets Girl itself becomes a quiet revolution in how a film with LGBT characters can be made.

Girlhood
French filmmaker Céline Sciamma is known for her coming-of-age classics like Water Lilies andTomboy, which explore how young people grapple with sexuality and gender identity. Her latest film, the acclaimed Girlhood, is no less revolutionary in its portrayal of a group of African-French teens navigating race, gender, class, and their own sexual identities in the Paris suburbs

 

Editorial

 

Now this list is what The Advocate has published, the question for our readers which LGBT film do they think is the best in 2015 – please let us know by writing in on our comments board and we will gather your votes and publish them.

 

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Kiss Me Softly (Kus me zachtjes) 2002

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Director:   Anthony Schatteman

Writer:   Anthony Schatteman

Stars:   Ezra Fieremans, Tim Bogaerts, Marijke Pinoy

Another welcome short movie, this one is from 2002 and is about 17 year old Jasper who cannot be himself in his family.  His father, Lukkie Luk, is a singer and he draws in all the attention within the family to himself, and Jasper is left almost in limbo trying to find ways of handling this whilst also trying to find answer to the typical questions of a teenager growing through adolescence.

NIghtfall (Anochecer) 2012

Yet again I have found a short movie which hasn’t see much light of day, and deserves a better airing.  Anochecer (or Nightfall) is a beautiful written and acted tale about the start of a love affair.  Of the journey yet to come, and of a tale in which more is left to our imagination than is explicitly told.

 

Director: Lucas Mac Dougall
Cast: Leandro Gauto, Juan Yarcho
Argentina | 2012 | 9 min

 

 

Holly Woodlawn – Transgender Artist

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Holly Woodlawn | Getty Images | 15479

Holly Woodlawn, the transgender actress made famous by Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey in their 1970s films Trash and Women in Revolt, has died after a battle with cancer at the age of 69 in Los Angeles. Holly was born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, in 1946.

At the age of 15, she took on the name Holly Woodlawn after running away from home and hitchhiking to New York City, where she became one of Warhol’s drag queen ‘superstars’.

These were a collection of New York personalities who appeared in Warhol’s artworks and accompanied him on social outings.
Holly’s story was immortalized in the first lines of the Lou Reed song Walk on the Wild Side.

‘Holly came from Miami, F.L.A. Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A. Plucked her eyebrows on the way. Shaved her legs and then he was a she. She says, “Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side.”‘

She took her first name from Holly Golightly, the heroine in Truman Capote’s novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The last name came from the Woodlawn Cemetery.

Holly Woodlawn, actress, born October 26, 1946, Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico, died December 6, 2015, Los Angeles.

WOMEN IN REVOLT (Paul Morrissey, 1971) (NSFW) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

X-men’s Shawn Ashmore would be interested in playing a gay Iceman

This year Iceman, one of the original X-men, came out as gay in Bran Michael Bendis’ superb All-New X-Men #40.

Speaking at the 2015 Game Awards, Shawn Ashmore – who has played Iceman for the last 12 years in the movies – said that it’s one of the most interesting things to happen to the character, and that he’d be interested in playing Iceman again

Shawn told IGN:  “Obviously the comics and movies are separate. I wonder what the transition would be because we’ve sort of established Bobby as having a love interest in Rogue and having a love interest in sort of Kitty Pryde, but I think it’d be really interesting.

“I think it’d probably be the most interesting thing that could happen to Bobby in the films. If they decided to take the story that way, it’d be incredibly dramatic, it’d be an interesting storyline, and it would give Bobby a great character arc. I’d definitely be open to that, but again, I’m not sure if they want to take the character in that direction. I have no idea how they would play that out. I think it’d be very interesting.”

Last month, comic book writer and creator of X-men Stan Lee, discovered that Iceman was gay during a live radio interview.

While appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Stan said: “I wasn’t involved in that, that may have been after I stopped writing the books. I didn’t really have any gay characters. If they were gay I didn’t play up to the fact that they were. I wasn’t aware of my characters sexual proclivities.”

He then admitted: “In fact your telling me that is the first time I’d heard. Is Iceman really gay?

“Wow! I never knew that. I don’t care what happens as long as they tell good stories.”

The Queen of Ireland: Gay rights movie released in Northern Ireland is sheer bliss

A charismatic drag queen is the star of this documentary about the Republic’s gay marriage referendum, writes Andrew Johnston

The Queen of Ireland couldn’t have timed its Northern Ireland release better. The documentary about marriage equality in the Republic of Ireland arrives in the same week the DUP scuppered a majority Assembly vote to allow same-sex weddings in the north.

  After watching this deeply affecting film, the anger, sadness and frustration felt by many at the party’s underhand use of a petition of concern will be intensified. Director Conor Horgan’s beautifully shot and edited movie follows Panti Bliss, the drag queen alter-ego of Co Mayo-born performer and activist Rory O’Neill, who somewhat inadvertently became the LGBT movement’s figurehead in the run-up to May’s marriage rights referendum. In her towering heels and extravagant, blonde wig, she is an imposing presence, yet O’Neill’s larger-than-life character is as persuasive as she is visually arresting. In his own words, Panti is a “giant cartoon woman”, but she is also an eloquent and incisive commentator, who counts the likes of Stephen Fry and Madonna among her legion of fans, and in 2014, received an Irish Person of the Year Award.

Her creator’s life has certainly been an eventful one. The Queen of Ireland takes us from O’Neill’s childhood in the small town of Ballinrobe, where he was, as he puts it, “the local gay”, through the perhaps inevitable art college years, to the development of his stage persona during hedonistic adventures in London and Tokyo. Eventually, O’Neill comes home to a relatively more progressive Ireland and embarks on a campaigning trail that ultimately leads to the Republic becoming the first country to approve same-sex marriage through a public vote. The Queen of Ireland isn’t just powerful because of the emotive subject matter; it has a rich dramatic arc, too. There is tragedy when O’Neill suffers a serious health setback, and when he invokes costly legal proceedings with contentious remarks made on RTE’s Saturday Night Show, a row that is dubbed “Pantigate”. But there is triumph when he returns to Ballinrobe to perform to a sold-out crowd in a marquee in a car park near his family home, and later, when the ‘Yes’ result is returned in the referendum. As a stand-up, Panti is smart and hilarious, albeit one you might not take your mother to see (and indeed, O’Neill tones down the swearing and explicit sexual references for the homecoming gig, attended by his elderly parents). Panti’s abrasive one-liners earn The Queen of Ireland its 15 certificate, but behind the facade, O’Neill reveals a complex personality. He is as humble and kind as his self-described “court jester” drag act is outrageous. It may be Horgan’s film, but it’s O’Neill and Panti’s show, and as narrator, the cross-dressing star steers the narrative to its startling denouement – Ireland’s legalising of gay marriage. To see same-sex partners celebrating in streets where 22 years previously homosexuality had been punishable by prison delivers an emotional punch on a par with any feel-good flick. If you’d pitched this tale to a Hollywood producer in the early Nineties, you might well have been laughed out of the room. The realities of being a gay man or woman in Ireland in the Seventies and Eighties are well covered through extensive interviews and newsreel footage, and it’s heartening to see how far Irish society has come, though for audiences in the north, it will be dispiriting to be reminded how far we are lagging behind. The Queen of Ireland deserves to be seen by everyone, be they gay, straight, male, female, young or old. In fact, this important piece of work should be shown in schools – and maybe even in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Watch the new trailer for Grinder

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A trailer for new film Grinder has been released, and it showcases the darker side of gay life.

The story follows gay teenager Luke, who is seduced by a model agent to run away from his troubled home in the suburbs to the bright lights of New York. While there, he meets an older photographer who becomes obsessed with him and tries to stop him sinking into the dark world that awaits him.

Starring in the film are Jon Fleming, of Will and Grace and Dante’s Cove fame; Brandon Ruckdashel, who also wrote and directed the film; and newcomer Tyler Austin.

The film’s creators are currently submitting it to film festivals, and it’s expected to receive a 2016 release

First LGBT sci-fi film 'Credence' gets online launch

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02 NOVEMBER 15 by MATT KAMEN

When independent film Credence launched its crowdfunding campaign last July, it made history as the first sci-fi project to specifically and overtly deal with LGBT themes. Now, 18 months on and with a West End premiere to its name, the short is finally available to purchase.

True to its community-driven origins, which saw a dedicated 607 backers chip in a total £23k — almost four times its initial goal of £6,000 — director Mike Buonaiuto has opted for an online release release with a miniscule price tag to get the film to as many viewers as possible. It’s currently available exclusively on Vimeo for £3.99 in high-def download and streaming formats.

Anyone who contributed more than £15 during the crowdfunding phase will get the film for free. The purchase price to new viewers is, Buonaiuto says “a minimal fee to cover outstanding costs for completing a production of this scale and detail”, which saw “countless people” contribute talent and production skills to see the project completed.

“Launching traditionally would not have made too much sense for Credence, which was completely built by people’s crowdfunded cash,” Buonaiuto tells WIRED. “So the team decided to give the film a completely independent launch — fuelled by the thousands of people who shared and contributed to the campaign over the last few years.”
The half-hour tale follows husbands John (Anthony Topham) and Scott (Alex Hammond) as they try to ensure safe passage for their daughter Ellie (Tia Kenny) away from a doomed Earth. Although it’s a rare portrayal of gay parents in cinema, it also stands — in this writer’s opinion — as an example of raw humanity and the extents people can go to for love. Buonaiuto is optimistic that both the characters’ portrayal, deliberately as far as possible from the standard imagery cinema often uses as shorthand for LGBT people, and Credence’s production model will have a positive impact.

“We hope this inspires other filmmakers to take a chance at breaking stereotypes in filmmaking, and in production models” he says. “Filmmakers have to get creative if they want to tell new stories that have never been told before. Credence was written, produced and funded completely differently to most short films, telling a very different story, and we wanted to launch to be very people-led and unique too.”
If digital downloads aren’t your movie-watching cup of tea, there are also plans for a more traditional release to follow. “We’ve had so much interest for Blu-ray and DVD releases, which is really encouraging,” Buonaiuto says. “This is something we’ll certainly consider next year, with a few partner options, and we’re also talking with film festivals for more screenings.”

Camp Sites: Classic camp horror films for Halloween

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XENIA

 

 

 

Xemia

 

GREECE’S OFFICIAL ENTRY
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
88th ACADEMY AWARDS
®

XENIA

A FILM BY PANOS H. KOUTRAS

Starring Kostas Nikouli, Nikos Gelia and Aggelos Papadimitriou

Official Selection:
Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard
Toronto International Film Festival
Winner, Chicago International Film Festival, Gold Hugo Best Film
Miami and Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Frameline Film Festival
XENIA follows two young brothers in search of their birth father across the colorful landscape of Greece. Dany, 16, leaves Crete to find his brother Odysseus who lives in Athens and they journey to Thessaloniki where they think their father is living. When the handsome Odysseus isn’t protecting his daydreaming, gay younger brother, he auditions for the television talent show “Greek Star” where he pursues his fantasy of becoming a singing star. A comic and touching road trip of two brothers connecting and searching for their dreams.
128 Minutes • Drama • Not Rated • In Greek with English Subtitles