Though Pride events have to move online this year we are celebrating LGBTQ+ stories around the world.
Though Pride events have to move online this year, we are celebrating LGBTQ+ stories from around the world. From Japan to Israel, Uganda, Syria, UK or Sweden these documentaries move queer lives into the spotlight and show where the fight for change must still continue.
This week we turn to Chechnya for our weekly online screening, showing BBC Storyville’s Welcome To Chechnya: The Gay Purge + Director Q&A with David France (How to Survive a Plague).
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? / Dir. Tomer Heymann & Barak Heymann / 2016 / 84 mins
After being driven away from his Kibbutz for being gay, 21 year old Saar Maoz arrived in the UK and made a new life for himself in the close-knit, loving community of The London Gay Men’s Chorus.
19 years later, Saar has reached out to his conservative Israeli family in an attempt at reconciliation. Now his parents are coming to visit…
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? celebrates the triumph of love over hate, of understanding over ignorance and the melding of cultures who traditionally view each other as extreme.
Of Love & Law / Dir. Hikara Toda / 2017 / 94 mins
In Japan, people tend to hide anything that is “inconvenient”, says artist Rokudenashiko, charged with obscenity for her vagina sculptures.
Rokudenashiko’s court case is one that openly gay lawyers Kazu and Fumi are fighting for, alongside a teacher fired for not standing during the national anthem and a young woman who was born outside of the traditional family structure, so doesn’t legally exist.
This intimate portrait of the loving relationship between Kazu and Fumi follows their journey to building a family, while fighting for human rights for all.
In a society where it’s risky to go against the grain and everybody is expected to “read the air”, the pair are a rock of compassion.
Kiki / Dir. Sara Jordenö / 2016 / 94 mins
25 years after Paris is Burning, this film dives back into the fierce world of voguing battles in the Kiki scene of New York City, where competition between Houses demands leadership, painstaking practice, and performances on point.
Led by a new generation of LGBTQ youth, the subculture offers a safe and empowered space for performers to express their identities and address issues in their lives.
A collaboration between Swedish filmmaker Sara Jordenö and community gatekeeper Twiggy Pucci Garçon, Kiki gives voice to the young people forging a new activist movement and breathes fresh life into the representation of the Ballroom scene.
In dark times when there isn't much to be hopeful about, Kiki shines fierce and bright.
Call Me Kuchu / Dir. Katherine Fairfax Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall / 2012 / 87 mins
Kampala, 2010. Veteran activist David Kato is Uganda’s first openly gay man. Alongside a small group of friends and allies, he works tirelessly against the Church- and State-sanctioned homophobia in his country. Their fight becomes even more urgent as an ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ is proposed, meaning death for HIV-positive gay men, and prison for anyone who fails to turn in a known homosexual.
This carefully observed film brings together the personal and the political in its intimate portrayal of David Kato; and when tragedy shakes the movement to its core after a year of filming, the urgent message of Kato’s work is more striking than ever.
Seahorse / Dir. Jeanie Finlay / 2019 / 90 mins
Freddy is 30 and yearns to start a family, but this poses unique challenges. He is a gay transgender man. Seahorse tells the story of his journey.
Deciding to carry his own baby took years of soul searching, but he was unprepared for the reality of pregnancy, both physically and in challenging society’s fundamental understanding of gender & family. Against a backdrop of hostility towards trans people, he is forced to confront his naivety.
Made with unprecedented access & collaboration, Seahorse is an audacious & lyrical story about what makes us who we are.
Watch Seahorse on Vimeo On Demand
Silvana / Dir. Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, Christina Tsiobanelis / 2017 / 95 mins
You might not know Swedish rapper Silvana Imam, but provocative and prodigiously talented in equal measure, she has taken Scandinavia by storm with up front lyrics calling out sexism, racism and homophobia. When she shouts ‘let’s smash patriarchy!’ through a megaphone, hundreds of hands shoot into the air. When she spits ‘go kiss your f**king swastika’ the crowd is with her.
Silvana gets close enough to the artist to witness the courage and grit it takes to forge a path to the top when you don’t fit the usual mould, but also the great pressures of fame and adulation on young shoulders.
It also witnesses from the outset Silvana’s burgeoning relationship with Swedish pop-artist Beatrice Eli, which, for a time at least, appears to be the stuff of fairytales for their many delighted fans.
Following Silvana from a promising underground artist through the first year that she hits the big time, the film reveals arrogance, insecurity, uncompromising vision and deep-seated uncertainty, as she crashes out from the limelight and starts to rebuild again.
You can watch Silvana on Vimeo on demand
Gayby Baby / Dir. Maya Newell / 2015 / 85 mins
Maya Newell follows the lives of four Australian children – Gus, Ebony, Graham and Matt – whose parents all happen to be gay.
Having grown up with same-sex parents, Newell brings her insight and empathy to bear on one of the most debated contemporary issues today, giving a rare and intimate look at same-sex parenting through the eyes of these engaging youngsters.
In his all-female household, Gus strives to work out what it means to be a “man”; Ebony struggles to find her voice as a singer and a place where her gay family will be accepted; Matt questions how the God his lesbian mums worship can also damn them to hell; and Graham’s desire to win the approval of his dads is complicated by a move to Fiji, where homosexuality is frowned upon.
Told from the point of view of the kids, Gayby Baby is a living, moving portrait of same-sex families that offers a refreshingly honest picture of what really counts in modern life.
You can watch Gayby Baby on Vimeo on Demand
A Jihad for Love / Dir. Parvez Sharma / 2008 / 81 mins
Described by the New York Times as ‘a dispatch from the outer limits of marginalization’, A Jihad for Love was filmed undercover with lesbian and gay Muslims across the world.
Its multilayered portraits were filmed in India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and France, offering a nuanced perspective on faith and giving voice to Islam’s unheard minority.
Looking beyond a hostile and war-torn present, it reclaims the Islamic concept of a greater Jihad, whose true meaning is akin to ‘an inner struggle’ or ‘to strive in the path of God’ – allowing its remarkable subjects to move beyond the narrow concept of Jihad as holy war.
You can watch A Jihad for Love on Kanopy
ChemSex / Dir. Max Gogarty & William Fairman / 2015 / 83 mins
In hidden basements, bedrooms and bars across London, a part of the gay community is suffering its biggest crisis since the AIDS/HIV epidemic.
Traversing a dark underworld of intravenous drug use and weekend-long sex parties, ChemSex tells the story of several men struggling to make it out of ‘the scene’ alive – and one health worker who has made it his mission to save them.
While society looks the other way, this powerful and unflinching film uncovers a group of men battling with HIV, drug addiction and finding acceptance in a changing world.
You can watch ChemSex on Vimeo on Demand
Mr Gay Syria / Dir. Ayse Toprak / 2017 / 84 mins
Meet the contestants vying for the title of Mr. Gay Syria. Taking place in Istanbul, with Syrian refugees competing, there’s more to this pageant than meets the eye.
Mahmoud Hassino started the competition with the hope of sending the winner to compete in Mr. Gay World 2016; to let the world know about LGBT Syrians who have fled, or are still living under ISIS’s rule.
Will their dream come true or will the refugee crisis and the harsh consequences of being gay in the Muslim world shatter it to pieces?
Mala Mala / Dir. Antonio Santini & Dan Sickles / 2014 / 99 mins
Mala Mala dives into the intimate moments, performances, friendships and activism of trans people in Puerto Rico.
Directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles spent three years filming their nine subjects – amongst them RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6 contestant April Carrión and 65-year-old trans pioneer Soraya – to create this multi-layered portrait, which won the documentary audience award at Tribeca 2014.
You can watch Mala Mala on Vimeo on Demand
Beginning as a colorful documentary about the Puerto Rican transgender community, candidly showcasing nine very different subjects, Mala Mala slowly morphs into a celebration of solidarity and collective activism without ever losing sight of its likable protagonists.