7 queer films you should watch this weekend
Here is your weekend sorted courtesy of the BFI Player and their selection of LGBT+ films.
Night Comes On (2018)
As we’re all too aware, the coronavirus crisis has shut down everything. One such unlucky event that fell on lockdown time was the annual BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ Film Festival. It’s obviously not the most serious of things to be shuttered, but gutting all the same, both for the programmers who worked hard on securing films for the festival and for the festival goers who will no longer be able to catch fresh new queer cinema.
Quick to plug the gap, though, the BFI has gone digital. Along with a number of films originally slated to appear at this year’s festival, the BFI have curated a digital programme of some brilliant LGBT+ cinema from across the years, all delivered through the BFI Player. And what’s better, you can sign up for a free 14-day-trial, so many of the films are effectively free to watch. Winner.
There are over 235 films that you can pick from. To help you choose what to watch, we’ve picked seven that you should absolutely spend lock down watching.
Our Dance of Revolution (2019)
One of the films that was meant to play at this year’s Flare festival, Our Dance of Revolution tells the story of Black LGBT+ folk and activists in Toronto and their impact on the city’s socio-political history. From the AIDS crisis to police harassment, the film travels across 40 years of work and community, highlighting everything from the collectives who made it, to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement -- who interrupted Toronto Pride in 2016 -- demonstrating the vital Black queer activism that has often been overlooked in Toronto’s LGBT+ scene. Available to stream with a BFI Player subscription.
End of the Century (2019)
Lucio Castro’s film about an Argentinian man on vacation in Barcelona is the sort of subdued and poignant romance that lingers with you well after it’s finished. Two men meet in Barcelona in the present, only to realise that 20 years previously they met before. Using flashback but keeping the actors looking almost identical, Castro plants you in his character’s memories, as if you’re witnessing their past fly by in their minds. In fact, the film has an intimate, literary quality to it, which, paired with its meditative themes on monogamy, sex, love and ageing, make this an essential watch. Available to rent from the BFI Player for £8.00.
It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that nearly every gay film since has taken something away from Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, a quiet film about love, shame and the transient nature of human connection. The film focuses on the chance meeting of two men who, across the space of one weekend, form an intense bond while also facing truths about themselves in the process. It’ll make you cry and, if you’ve not seen it already, you really should. Available to stream with a BFI Player subscription.
Night Comes On (2018)
Premiering at Sundance in 2018, Jordana Spiro and Angelica Nwandu’s film about a fractured family is a harrowing tale of revenge, trauma and rage, told with such empathy that it reminds you there’s always light to be found, even when it feels like you’re immersed in darkness. After 18-year-old Angel LaMere is released from juvenile detention, she goes on a journey with her 10-year-old sister to uncover the truth about her mother’s death. It’s worth watching for Dominique Fishback’s incredible performance as Angel alone. Available to rent from the BFI Player for £3.50.
Filmed in black-and-white on 16mm film, director Yen Tan takes viewers right back to the first wave of the HIV/AIDS crisis. We meet Adrian, an advertising executive whose life in New York has been forever changed by the virus, as he heads back home to Texas in a bid to reconnect with his family. It’s a moving, considered look at the impact of HIV/AIDS on those who lived through the crisis. Available to rent from the BFI Player for £4.50.
For They Know Not What They Do (2020)
Another film that was part of the festival line-up, For They Know Not What They Do is a documentary about four LGBT+ people and their difficult, harrowing and upsetting experiences with organised religion. From the horrors of conversion therapy to families aligning their religious beliefs with trans identity, director Daniel G. Karslake tells an essential story about the struggles that many LGBT+ folk still face. Available to stream with a BFI Player subscription.
Don’t be put off by how old this film is: Nighthawks is a gay classic. One of the first films to accurately portray gay life in Britain, this documentary-like classic gives you a rare snapshot into what life as an out gay man in 1970s London was like. From the realities of meeting with men in bars, to the difficulties of disclosing your sexuality at work, this film by Ron Peck might not be the most energetic, but it’s a poignant snapshot of London’s gay scene before HIV/AIDS. Available to stream with a BFI Player subscription.