LGBT+ History Month: Venue’s viewing list

Venue writers have created a film list of some of the highlights of the past and present moments in gay rights.

Cabaret (1972):

“The diaries of Christopher Isherwood are like a polished silver cigarette case – beneath all that glitter and shine, there were some cancerous lines that could really kill. But God, did they taste good. Catty, melodramatic and envious, Isherwood could be a devilish critic, yet he is the godfather of queer British autobiography.

The delicious vice of his sexcapades in the “boy bars” of Weimar Berlin may have been transposed to fit a heterosexual narrative in Cabaret, but it retains the hedonistic spirit of those diaries. The feverous energy of Berlin’s nightclub culture is illustrated in a devastating canvas of crossdressing and sexual fluidity, a vibrant underworld shining beneath the bootheel of fascism. A sumptuous evocation of early-30s flair, coated in a rich, brooding colour palette by cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, Cabaret remains timeless. The film is an ecstatic troupe of pleasure and sparkle, dancing defiantly in the shadow of Nazism.” – Liam Heitman-Rice

Beautiful Thing (1996):

“Originally a play, Beautiful Thing was born in the immediate aftermath of the Thatcher era and during the AIDs crisis. It stands out among the typically more miserable depictions of LGBT+ people during the 90s because of its happy ending- in a time when Section 28 was prohibiting local authorities from “promoting homosexuality”, seeing two gay boys accept themselves onscreen was hugely subversive.

The film follows two working-class teenagers, Jamie and Ste, as they explore their attraction to one another and try to navigate the often tricky process of coming out. It’s charming and poignant and also pretty witty; after stealing a gay magazine out of curiosity, Jamie quite confidently informs Ste what “frottage” is (“It’s yogurt. It’s French.”). Beautiful Thing offers an adorable coming of age story and is a deliberate departure from the stereotypical depictions of gay men that were certainly abundant when it was released and still exist in popular culture today.” – Amy Nash

Boys Don’t Cry (1999):

“Released in 1999, Boys Don’t Cry is a biographical film dramatising the story of Brandon Teena, an American trans boy trying to pass and falling victim to a brutal crime when discovered. While not portrayed by an actual trans actor and failing in that respect, Hilary Swank offers a wonderful interpretation of the character, making the film a sensitive and careful exploration of Teena’s story. The supporting cast is talented as well, and while most of the characters are greatly unlikable if not straight-up evil, they are well-rounded and interesting nevertheless.

The film is shot beautifully, capturing the atmosphere of 90s road trips and teenage years, and conveying the loneliness that comes with keeping a part of yourself secret and possessing an identity that is shunned and considered unacceptable.The ending is heartbreaking and ugly, frankly quite difficult to watch (various trigger warnings here!), but it is an important film, and a must-watch for LGBT+ History Month.” – Yaiza Canopoli

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)

“When Blue is the Warmest Colour came out, it was a controversial hit which shook many an award show and many an ignorant straight man. Its plot line is simple but effective – two girls meet, fall in love and fall apart – but the way that it’s produced is magnificent simply because of the realism and the reality of the piece. Straight people get these plot lines all the time, but lesbians don’t really get good realistic rom-com type of films. And, what’s more, the characters fight like a real couple and make up like a real couple. They say those stupid things and show regret like real humans, real people. The film shows friends making insensitive jokes, and people reacting badly too, just like coming out is like in real life. It’s a fantastic relatable film for any lesbian, bisexual or otherwise female orientated woman, so for that reason, it is definitely worth the watch.” – Freya Barrett


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June 2021
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