December 18, 2015 at 3:19 pm EST | by Brian T. Carney
Overlooked 2015 movie gems
Parvez Sharma, A Sinner in Mecca, gay news, Washington Blade, LGBT documentaries

Filmmaker Parvez Sharma in ‘A Sinner in Mecca,’ one of the year’s best LGBT films you may have missed. (Photo courtesy Haram Films)

If you’re looking for last-minute gift ideas for the queer cinephiles on your holiday gift list (or for yourself), head to the movies. There are exciting options for streaming releases, new favorites and old classics on DVD or Blu-ray, and gift cards for your favorite cinema. Most are available immediately, which helps when you’re a procrastinator.

One of the best LGBT documentaries of 2015 has not been screened in Washington, but is available online. “A Sinner In Mecca,” by openly gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma (“A Jihad For Love”), chronicles his dangerous secret expedition to complete the Hajj pilgrimage, a journey which is required of every able-bodied Muslim. Under grave personal threat (homosexuality is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, filming is forbidden in the country and Sharma is under a fatwa for his work on behalf of gay Muslims), the filmmaker documented his trip using only an iPhone and two tiny hidden cameras. The powerful resulting film is a testament to his incredible courage and is a profound and disturbing exploration of the crises facing modern Islam (religious extremism, commercialism and sectarian battles) as well as deeply personal issues of faith and devotion. “A Sinner In Mecca” is available on iTunes and Netflix Streaming.

Two very different queer classics celebrated landmark anniversaries in 2015. In the heart-warming “Big Eden,” (2000) New York artist Henry Hart (Ayre Gross) returns to his Montana hometown to care for his ailing grandfather (George Coe). With the help of supportive neighbors (the superb cast includes Louise Fletcher, Nan Marin and Veanne Cox), Henry comes to terms with his secret crush on his best friend from high school (Tim DeKay) and finds love with a shy Native American shopkeeper (Eric Schweig).

And, although everyone’s favorite “sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania” would never admit to it, the queer cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” turned 40 in 2015.

Both “Big Eden” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” have been released on new Blu-ray discs that include lots of extra footage and additional features.

With a huge catalog of LGBT films available streaming as well as on DVD and Blu-ray, Wolfe Video (wolfevideo.com) is a great resource for the last-minute shopper. Founded in 1985, Wolfe Video is the largest exclusive distributor of gay and lesbian films from the United States and around the world. Some of their recent releases include “Blackbird,” “The Girl King,” “All About E,” and the charming “Boy Meets Girl.”

Blackbird,” starring Mo’Nique, Isaiah Washington and newcomer Julian Walker, is the moving tale of an African-American high school student in a small Southern town dealing with family crises while struggling with his own faith and sexuality. “The Girl King” is a lush retelling of the life of Queen Kristina of Sweden and her struggles against her conservative court. Malin Buska turns in a passionate award-winning performance as the gender non-conforming monarch.

The Australian movie “All About E” is a road movie about sexy DJ Elmira (aka “E”) who is forced to flee town with her gay best friend (and husband of convenience) Matt in tow. In the enchanting “Boy Meets Girl,” trans actor Michelle Hendley stars as Ricky, a young trans woman from small-town Kentucky who finds the courage to pursue her romantic and professional dreams. The movie, which had a limited theatrical run in D.C. earlier this year, has recently been released by Wolfe on DVD and is also available instantly at WolfeOnDemand.com.

Finally, gift cards for your favorite movie theatre are a great last-minute present and a great way to support the theatres that show great LGBT films all year long.

AFI Silver in downtown Silver Spring offers current independent and international releases, thoughtful retrospectives of classic Hollywood and world films, and great special events like the Internet Cat Video Festival. Their gift certificates can be ordered at afi.com/silver/about/giftcertificates.aspx. Gift cards for the expanding Landmark Cinemas chain (E Street, Bethesda Row, West End and Atlantic Plumbing in the D.C. Metro area and Harbor East in Baltimore) can be ordered online at store.landmarktheatres.com/index.aspx. And, gift cards for the Angelika Film Centers in Union Market and Fairfax can be found at angelikafilmcenter.com.

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