Ammonite – Shot on location in West Dorset, Francis Lee’s highly anticipated follow-up to God’s Own Country stars Kate Winslet as Mary Anning, a Victorian-era paleontologist and “unsung hero of fossil discovery” who embarks on a romance with a wealthy woman (Saoirse Ronan). The film has already generated a bit of controversy after surviving members of Anning’s family expressed disapproval of the lesbian storyline.
The Acrobat – Picture a queer Last Tango in Paris or 9 1/2 Weeks and you get L’Acrobate, the latest from Canadian filmmaker Rodrigue Jean. Packed with explicit sex and moody shots of Montreal construction sites, it explores a torrid affair between a businessman (Sébastien Ricard) and an injured Russian acrobat (Yury Paulau). We caught the premiere last fall at VIFF and hope it finds a distribution or streaming deal soon.
And Then We Danced – Sweden’s entry for Best International Feature at the Oscars, Levan Akin’s controversial film about a romance between two male dancers (Levan Gelbakhani and Bachi Valishvili) at a Tbilisi dance academy was a critical darling on the festival circuit last year, and finally comes out stateside in February.
Anita – Stuck in development hell for over six years, the long-awaited Anita Bryant biopic is finally back on track. Originally attached to Uma Thurman, the new project stars Ashley Judd as the orange juice TV pitchwoman who became the one of the fiercest anti-gay rights activist in the 1970s. Chris Hodge (creator of TNT’s Good Behavior) will write and direct, and Darren Starr (Sex and the City) and Howard Rosenman (Call Me By Your Name) produce.
Benedetta – No stranger to controversy, Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven (Elle, Basic Instinct, Robocop) returns with a film that promises to ruffle a few feathers. Adapted from Judith Brown’s 1986 non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy, Virginia Efira stars as Bendetta, a 17th century nun who embarks on a love affair with another woman.
The Boys In The Band – Part of producer Ryan Murphy’s $300 million dollar deal with Netflix, director Joe Mantello reunites the entire cast (including Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer) of the 2018 Broadway revival for the second film version of Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play.
Charlatan – After last year’s well-received Mr. Jones, Polish director Agnieszka Holland returns with another politically charged period piece. Set against the backdrop of the totalitarian fifties, the film is inspired by the life of Czech healer Jan Mikolasek, a man without a medical license who has an unusual ability to diagnose and cure illnesses. Although unconfirmed, it will most likely address a rumored affair between Mikolasek and a male assistant.
Cocoon – A lesbian coming-of-age story set in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, Leonie Krippendorff’s debut fiction feature follows Nora (Lena Urzendowsky) a timid 14-year-old girl as she experiences first love and heartbreak. Sales agent M-Appeal has already picked up the film, which world premieres in the Berlinale’s Generation section in February.
Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen – Director Sam Feder’s new documentary is “an investigation of how Hollywood’s fabled stories have deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how transgender people feel about themselves,” and features interviews with Laverne Cox, Mj Rodriguez, Lilly Wachowski, and Chaz Bono.
Falling – In actor Viggo Mortenson’s directorial debut, a conservative father (Lance Henriksen) moves from his rural farm to live with his gay son’s (Mortenson) family in Los Angeles. Shot on a tight budget over 30 days, the film co-stars Laura Linney, and London-based HanWay Films has already sold it in multiple territories.
Good Joe Bell – From Brokeback Mountain writers Diana Ossana and Larry McMurty, Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Oregon-set film tells the devastating true story of Jadin Bell (Reid Miller), a fifteen-year-old openly gay sophomore who took his own life after being bullied by classmates. Mark Wahlberg plays his father whose life came to a tragic end as he embarked on a cross-country trip to spread awareness about bullying.
Happiest Season – Actress/director Clea DuVall’s second feature, a holiday romantic comedy starring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, centers on a young woman whose plan to propose to her girlfriend backfires when she realizes her partner has not yet come out to her conservative parents. TriStar Pictures has set the release date for November 20.
I Carry You With Me – Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp, One of Us) marks her narrative feature debut with Te Llevo Conmigo, a decades-spanning gay love story scheduled to premiere later this month at Sundance. The film follows aspiring Mexican chef Ivan on a journey to New York after a gay romance is discovered and he is told he can no longer see his son.
Las Mil y Una – Premiering in February at the Berlinale, the second film from Argentine director Clarissa Navas (Hoy Partido a las Tres) witnesses the blossoming romance between Renata and Iris (Sofia Cabrera and Ana Carolina Garcia) amidst the suffocating confines of a turbulent housing project.
Little Girl – From French director Sébastien Lifshitz (Come Undone, Les Invisibles), Petite Fille documents the life of Sasha, an eight-year-old girl who begins to question her gender, and the inevitable blowback from the adults around her. Included in Berlinale’s Panorama section in February.
Mucho Mucho Amor – A documentary on the fabulously flamboyant, cape-wearing astrologer Walter Mercado, who passed away last November of kidney failure. A broadcast and fashion legend, his shows reached an estimated 120 million daily viewers for over three decades. The film, directed by Cristina Constantini and Kareem Tabsch, debuts at later this month at Sundance.
Futur Drei (No Hard Feelings) – A timely tale of immigrant life in Germany, Faraz Shariat’s debut feature spends a hot summer with Parvis (Benjamin Radjaipour), the son of exiled Iranians, as he falls in love with Amon (Eidin Jalali) at the refugee shelter where he’s been sentenced to perform community service. Premieres in February in Berlinale’s Panorama section.
The Nowhere Inn – Co-written, produced, and starring musicians St. Vincent and Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, Bill Benz’s film shadows Annie Clark as she attempts to make a documentary about herself, and according to the synopsis, “notions of reality, identity, and authenticity grow increasingly distorted and bizarre.”
Uncle Frank – Set in the early 70s, writer/director Alan Ball’s (American Beauty, Six Feet Under) new road movie stars Paul Bettany as a New York literature professor who brings his lover Wally (Peter Macdissi) home to rural South Carolina for a family funeral. Steve Zahn and Margo Martindale also appear.
Welcome to Chechnya – HBO has already acquired the rights to Oscar-nominee David France’s new documentary about violent anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive Russian republic, due to premiere at Sundance at the end of the month.The film highlights the brave activists who work undercover to rescue victims of a vicious “cleansing” campaign that shows no signs of letting up.