These films have all been selected as they individually highlight various issues and discussion points surrounding LGBTQ+ History from around the world. As the visibility of LGBTQ+ characters in cinema increases, we feel these films help contribute to awareness, empathy and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues for young people, as well as forming part of a proud beacon through which to celebrate equality and diversity. All of the titles highlighted come complete with their own film guides, designed to expand upon the issues raised in the films, from same sex parenting to gender reassignment.
We're screening many of the films below for free throughout February as part of our UK-wide programme of Spring Screenings to mark LGBT History Month.
A teenager is sent to a gay conversion therapy camp after she is caught kissing her best friend.
Touching on the disturbing practice of conversion therapy, this sensitive book adaptation depicts the impact denying their identity has on a group of teenager’s mental health. With a comedic tone, the film is an accessible platform for discussions on LGBT issues.
Australian coming-of-age drama about a sixteen-year-old’s weekly meetings with her mother, who is undergoing gender reassignment.
This Australian coming-of-age drama focuses on universal issues around the sometimes fractious relationship between parents and their children, through the story of Billie, a spiky sixteen year-old exploring her identity and James, her mother who is undergoing gender reassignment. This unusually structured film tackles the issues it raises in an accessible and frank fashion.
A closeted gay teenager strikes up an online relationship with one of his peers, helping both towards coming out to their friends and families.
A welcome addition to the high school genre and notably the first film by a major Hollywood studio to star a gay teenage romance, this humorous and heartfelt story questions the clichés of the ‘coming out story’, following its young character as he builds the confidence to share his true self with those around him.
Into Film LGBT Shorts with Peccadillo Pictures(2018)
A series of youth-centred stories about LGBT experiences in Britain and around the world, created in partnership with Peccadillo Pictures.
Chronicling various aspects of the LGBT experience amongst young people, this shorts package highlights difficult themes such as bullying and political persecution but also celebrates romance, solidarity and the importance of representation.
Tanner is outed as gay by his classmates and becomes the focus of three popular clique leaders anxious to mould him into their very own G.B.F.
Coming out can still be traumatic for young people, but when you are outed via social media, the effect can be even more stressful. This charming teen comedy explores the topic with panache and good humour, raising important discussion points around social stereotypes and highlighting the importance of constructing your own identity rather than allowing others to do it for you.
Uplifting tale of Manuela, a mother who decides to relocate to Barcelona after her son's sudden death.
Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar is one of the most distinctive filmmakers working today. Many of his films are lavish, colourful representations of femininity, gay identity and gender fluidity. This film is arguably his masterpiece, an unashamedly melodramatic, profoundly moving depiction of grief and those on the margins of mainstream society.
Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (The Way He Looks)(2014)
Brazilian romantic drama about a blind student whose relationship with his best friend is threatened by the arrival of a handsome new boy in school.
This young love story from Brazil focusses on a blind teenager whose close bond with his best friend is disrupted when handsome new boy Gabriel arrives at their school. With the two boys taking their developing sexuality in their stride, the tentative exploration of romance is played out with excruciating accuracy, and the conclusion is one of quiet defiance.
Coming-of-age drama focusing on a young black man growing up in a poverty-stricken Miami neighbourhood where he struggles to fit in.
This visually striking film spans three pivotal chapters in its young protagonist’s life, closely following his turbulent family life while he discovers more about his identity. The film became the first film by an all-black cast and the first LGBT film to win an Oscar for Best Picture and has since become a beacon of representation for black gay men.
Powerful drama made in 1993 when it was daring to make a Hollywood film about AIDS, about a top lawyer sacked when his firm learns he has the disease.
At the time of its release, this film was the first major Hollywood title to directly deal with the issue of HIV/AIDS. Through the canny casting of A-listers to help lend accessibility, this courtroom drama is ideal for exploring sensitive issues around homophobia (both overt and more subtle), as well as human rights more broadly, using audiences emotions to provoke debate.
Members of the Paris branch of activist organisation ACT-UP demand action from the government and pharmaceutical companies amid the AIDS crisis.
Set in the early 1990s, this powerful film depicts a group of Parisian ACT-UP activists, many of which suffered from HIV themselves, as they battle against lack of resources and support from the government. Providing a broader picture of their urgent struggles, the film also beautifully depicts the group's stories of love and friendship.
Chilean drama about a transgender woman who finds herself shut out following the sudden death of her boyfriend.
This film depicts how transphobia affects the live of its main character, Mariana, as she attempts to grief the death of her boyfriend. Beautifully shot and with a remarkable performance by actress Daniela Vega, this is a powerful portrayal of a triumphant character fighting against bigotry and stereotypes.
Classic 1950s film about a moody troublemaker - played by legendary actor James Dean, who died in a car crash a month before its release.
When this iconic teen film was released, homosexuality was rarely discussed directly in films. But watching it now reveals a clear romantic longing from Sal Mineo’s Plato towards James Dean’s Jim. The film tenderly hints at a love that could not at the time speak its name. Unfortunately, the bullying Plato is subjected to ensures that the film remains all too topical today.
A beautifully understated, naturalistic drama about childhood gender identity confusion that’s both touching and gently humorous.
A touching French film about a 10 year-old girl living a dual existence as a boy, Tomboy is ideal for introducing young people to issues around gender identity. The film is quiet and gentle in tone and does not presume to make any further assumptions about the character, beyond an initial exploration of identity and self-discovery, presented in a universal, sensitive way.
A transgender street worker, recently released from prison, attempts to track down the boyfriend who has cheated on her.
Shot entirely on a mobile phone, this imaginative film set in Hollywood follows two transgender women, Sin-Dee and Alexandra, on a mission to set things right just before Christmas. Compassionate yet hilarious, the film offers refreshing and much needed representation.
Comedy-drama about two teenagers growing up with two mothers who decide to track down their surrogate father.
This laid back comedy tells the story of a lesbian couple raising their two teenage children, before their lives get disrupted when their anonymous sperm donor arrives on the scene, threatening their established domestic setup. The film wittily examines the idea of what “normal” or “unconventional” family units are, without ever feeling like a political polemic.
Sensitive drama about Alex, a 15-year-old intersex person, who cannot be physically characterised as male or female but has been living as a girl.
This gentle depiction of an intersex teenager working through their identity and choosing to stop taking hormone medication, offers an insight into the complex process of growing in a society that expects certain behaviours from certain genders.
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as pioneering mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing, who was highly influential, but persecuted for being gay.
This biopic of code breaker Alan Turing largely draws on his stellar professional achievements, but does not shy away from presenting the shockingly callous treatment he was subjected to as a result of his homosexuality. It provides a sobering reminder to young people of discrimination and persecution seen in our recent history, and which remains relevant today.
Uplifting comedy about an unlikely moment in recent British history, when in 1984, gay rights activists offered to support the striking miners.
Set in the 1980s, Pride tells the true story of a group of lesbian and gay activists who supported a community of striking Welsh miners in a show of unity and strength. Crowd-pleasing, and with a rocking soundtrack, the film powerfully demonstrates the importance of political protest, adding a poignant story about a young lad struggling to come out to his parents to the mix.