This fall is going to yield a bountiful crop of LGBT films.
The season is already off to a great start with the release of “Other People,” written and directed by Chris Kelly, a writer for “Saturday Night Live” making his feature film debut. Based on his own experience, the movie is about a gay man (Jesse Plemons) who returns home to care for his mother (Molly Shannon) who has cancer.
Now in its 27th year, the AFI Latin American Film Festival (afi.com/silver/laff/) is an amazing showcase for the latest films from Latin America, as well as Spain and Portugal. One of the highlights of the Festival, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 5, is “Aquarius.” The film stars the renowned Sonia Braga (“Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Sex and the City”) as a feisty older woman battling a real-estate developer. Braga will appear for a Q&A after a special screening of the film on Oct. 20.
Some of the LGBT highlights of the festival include “Rara” about a custody battle between a lesbian mother and her conservative ex-husband; “The Companion” about a disgraced Cuban boxing champion who is sent to work in a state-mandated AIDS sanatorium; “Take Me For A Ride,” about the romance between two-high school girls; and, “I Promise You Anarchy,” directed by Guatemalan filmmaker Julio Hernández Cordón about two skate punks, best friends and teenage lovers, who find themselves in over their heads during a major drug deal.
Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, “The Dressmaker” (Sept. 23) is the moving and elegant story of Tilly Dunnage, a designer who uses haute couture to seek revenge on the small Australian town that ostracized her. The film features powerhouse performances by Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworh, Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving as a police sergeant who is guarding many secrets.
The Washington Jewish Film Festival (Oct. 5-9) includes “Mr. Gaga,” a documentary about the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin directed by openly gay Israeli filmmaker Tomer Heymann (“Who’s Going to Love Me Now?”). The title refers to the distinctive movement language developed by the charismatic choreographer, not the music of the famous American performer (wjff.org).
The Reel Affirmations Film Festival (reelaffirmations.org) returns to the historic Tivoli Theatre from Oct. 13-16. Washington’s International LGBT film festival opens with“Retake,” a moving drama two broken souls on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, and closes with “Check It,” the powerful documentary about a gang of LGBT youth in one of Washington’s most violent neighborhoods. In between, the festival includes a day of shorts from rising international directors, an adults-only late-night screening, and “Strike A Pose,” a follow-up look at the six dancers who accompanied Madonna on her “Blond Ambition” tour.
Reel Affirmations also continues its monthly Xtra Film Series. On Sept. 30, there will be a double bill of “Lazy Eye” and “Jason and Shirley.” The new comedy crime thriller “Women Who Kill” by Ingrid Jungermann (“Lyle”) will screen on Nov. 18. Slated for Dec. 2, “Pushing Dead” stars James Roday as an HIV-positive struggling writer battling his insurance company and the medical bureaucracy with the help of Danny Glover and Robin Weigert.
The Avalon Theatre in northwest D.C. also offers an exciting slate of indie and international films. Currently on screen is “Little Men” by gay filmmaker Ira Sachs; the amazing Wednesday Signature Series includes “Les Cowboys” by French auteur Thomas Bidegain, an inventive contemporary update of the classic John Ford western “The Searchers.”
Other great releases this fall, before the holiday film season even starts, include:
“Author: The JT Leroy Story” (Sept. 16), a documentary about Laura Albert and “the greatest literary hoax of our time.”
“Snowden” (Sept. 16) stars Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as the infamous leaker Edward Snowden and features out actor Zachary Quinto as Glenn Greenwald and Melissa Leo as Laura Poitras, the openly gay journalists who helped break the story.
“Front Cover” (Sept. 30), recently screened by Reel Affirmations, gets a theatrical release at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market. Directed by Ray Yeung, the movie tracks the troubled affair between a closeted Chinese actor and his openly gay Chinese American stylist.
“The Birth of a Nation” (Oct. 7), the provocative movie about the Nat Turner’s 1831 slave revolt, generated additional controversy when director and star Nate Parker was forced to discuss the 1999 case where he was accused and acquitted of sexual assault charges as a college student.
“Batman: Return of the Cape Crusaders” is an animated film featuring Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprising their roles from the ‘60s TV show in voiceover performances. It screens one day only on Oct. 10 at ArcLight Cinema in Bethesda, Md.
“The Handmaiden” (Oct. 14) is a tale of lesbian romance told against a backdrop of madness and treachery. Korean director PARK Chan-wook moves the action of the novel “Fingersmith” by Welsh lesbian writer Sarah Waters from Victorian Britain to 1930s Korea.
“King Cobra” (in theaters and on VOD on Oct. 21) stars Christian Slater and James Franco as murderous rival producers in the gay male porn industry.
“Moonlight” (Oct. 28), adapted by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney from his award-winning play, tells the coming out and coming-of-age story of an African American man from the perspectives of three actors playing his childhood, adolescent and adult selves.
“Loving” (Nov. 11) movingly recreates the saga of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) the plaintiffs in the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage and paved the way for the Obergefell decision which upheld marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“Being 17” (Nov. 11) is directed by the acclaimed French director André Téchiné, widely recognized for his exploration of fluid sexual and cultural identities. His latest film charts the changing relationship between a boy and his bully.
“Nocturnal Animals” (Nov. 23) is the second feature film by openly gay American designer Tom Ford (“A Single Man”). Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams, the movie is a multi-layered story of love, betrayal and art.
Finally, this November, HBO will broadcast two highly anticipated LGBT documentaries: “Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution” and “The Trans List,” a series of interviews with prominent figures in the transgender community by journalists Janet Mock and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.