Sunday, Sep 25, 2022

How The Representation Of The Queer Community Changed In The Last Couple Of Years

The Queer community has been showcased very often in films ever since the pandemic started. Here’s how their representation has changed in the last couple of years in cinema.

A Still From 'Kiss Me Before It Blows Up'
A Still From 'Kiss Me Before It Blows Up' Instagram

The Queer community has probably been one of the least represented communities in world cinema. In Bollywood, the representation has been next to nil and there have been just a handful of films that had a remotely obscure hint of a queer character in almost 119 years of Indian cinema. In western cinema, however, the queer community has found ample representation. The showcasing of the community became extensively high starting from the 1990s, and even in today’s time, there are at least a handful of movies made every year in Hollywood that not only showcase the queer community but even celebrate them.

In the last couple of years, the number of titles that have been released on the Queer community has quadrupled, and it’s bringing in all sorts of new-age content to the forefront. So without further ado, let’s go down memory lane and look at some of the movies which have shaped the representation of the queer class in movies in recent years:

‘Rebel Dykes’ (UK, 2021)

"It's not like we woke up one day and chose to be renegade dykes. We had stuff to revolt against," Karen Fisch recalls at the end of this intriguing look at 1980s lesbian London. This post-punk, working-class commune of friends, lovers, activists, and anarchists met at Greenham Common peace camp and went on to struggle for the freedom to express their sexuality, identity, and wants on their own terms, in stark contrast to the rhetoric of the day.

From squats and sex parties to abseiling into the Houses of Parliament and live-streaming the BBC's Six O'Clock News, these people helped pave the way for a safer, more free society for all LGBT people, regardless of identity, colour, class, ideology, or sexual appetites. This is a visual masterclass in a radical 1980s style, using archive home film, protest music, miscellaneous fliers and artefacts from the time. It is a BFI Flare highlight.

‘Sweetheart’ (UK, 2021)

This coming-of-age comedy from Marley Morrison, a highlight of the Glasgow Film Festival and fronted by the totally delightful newcomer Nell Barlow, revolves around extremely embarrassed 17-year-old AJ (Barlow) who is obliged to accompany her family on holiday in a trailer park. Without connectivity and under attack from her mother and sister, the entrance of lifeguard Isla saves the week (Ella-Rae Smith). Sweetheart is a feel-good narrative that is quick-witted and subtle, and it leaves everyone on a high.

‘Where Love Lives’ (UK, 2021)

This inspiring video focusing on the eponymous, all-inclusive night Glitterbox originates from the iconic British label Defected Records. Nightclub performers, DJs, and pioneers such as Honey Dijon, TeTe Bang, Lucy Fizz, and John 'Jellybean' Benitez passionately describe the dancefloor's strength and relevance as a unifying space and a place of welcome. "The only reason I'm still alive is because I found life on the dancefloor," Pose's Billy Porter explains. While not everyone in the globe can now party, the sheer intensity, excitement, and soundtrack of this one-hour presentation will take your mind, body, and soul right to the club.

‘Rūrangi: The Yellow Affair’ (New Zealand, 2021)

This witty, sympathetic, masterfully done film from Max Currie and trans writer Cole Meyers follows trans activist Caz Davis (Elz Carrad) coming home to the dairy hamlet of Rūrangi after a decade abroad.

His first visit after transitioning elicits emotional responses, notably from his father Gerald (Kirk Torrance), but what makes Rūrangi (originally a TV series transformed into a film) so successful is the way it meticulously portrays shades of grey. We don't always get it right, but we must keep talking, listening, and attempting. This seems genuinely authentic, thanks to the presence of Mori people and a gender-diverse cast and crew. This award-winning investigation of how love may occasionally conquer all odds was recently picked up by Hulu.

‘The Dose (La Dosis)’ (Argentina, 2020)

In this disturbing thriller set in a palliative care hospital, supposedly skilled and loving nurse Marcos Roldán (Carlos Portaluppi) is surreptitiously hastening the deaths of critically sick patients. When affable new nurse Gabriel (Ignacio Rogers) arrives up for a shift, it appears that Marcos may have some competition. This homoerotic thriller is taut from start to finish, with themes of masculinity, ethics, isolation, and a slow-burn psychological danger.

‘My First Summer’ (Australia, 2020)

Katie Found's wonderfully filmed coming-of-age drama is a quiet, unhurried look at grief, friendship, and first love. Claudia (Markella Kavenagh) is left alone in a secluded hamlet after her mother commits suicide; solace appears in the shape of Grace (Maiah Stewardson), who painstakingly assists in resurrecting Claudia. The adolescents fall in love, but the adult world soon encroaches on their beautiful summer. A daring first novel about soft longing.

‘Well Rounded’ (Canada, 2020)

"You don't care about my health. You are offended by my weight. Let's begin there." Candy Palmater, a Canadian comedian, is one of six immensely fascinating voices representing Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), LGB2TQ+, disability, and overweight perspectives in Shana Myara's uplifting and compelling 61-minute documentary. It investigates the difficulties of living in a fatphobic, heteronormative, and racist environment; there is a struggle—some of these experiences, particularly at the hands of health professionals, are simply appalling—but there is also revolution, emancipation, and radicalism.

‘Cured’ (US, 2020)

In the 1950s and 1960s, being homosexual meant being sacked from a job, social marginalisation, prison sentences, mental institutions, conversion and electric shock therapy, and, in some cases, lobotomy.

This in-depth examination of mid-century US LGBT history includes newly unearthed archive film and conversations with those who risked their lives and careers for our future liberties. Among the notable names are child psychiatrist and social activist Lawrence Hartmann, GLAAD co-founder Ron Gold, activist and photographer Kay Lahusen and her partner Barbara Gittings (who organised the New York chapter of the seminal lesbian organisation, Daughters of Bilitis), and social justice campaigner Reverend Magora Kennedy.

‘Cowboys’ (US, 2020)

Director Anna Kerrigan's emotionally charged film concerns a well-intentioned father, Troy (Steve Zahn), doing his best to shield his transgender kid Joe (Sasha Knight) from both the outside world and his own mother, Sally (Jillian Bell), who is unwilling to accept her child's gender.

Cowboys, set in Montana's beautiful Glacier National Park, is as aesthetically stunning as it is captivating. Zahn and Knight give subtle performances, and the plot, which alternates between flashback and the current day, depicts not just Joe's journey through identification but also Troy's own mental health issues. A quietly riveting film that offers a much-needed good conclusion while avoiding cliché.

‘Kiss Me Before It Blows Up (Kiss Me Kosher)’ (Germany, 2020)

Shirel Peleg, an Israeli filmmaker, has a lot to tackle in this unorthodox love tale set in Tel Aviv, yet she approaches race, religion, LGBT love, and generational grief with a light touch. Shira (Moran Rosenblatt), a bar owner, presents her German botanist fiancee Maria (Luise Wolfram) to her Jewish family, much to her grandmother's chagrin. Complications and miscommunications abound, casting doubt on the couple's wedding. This intergenerational look at love, like many others on this list, has a surprisingly cheerful ending while presenting fascinating ethical problems.