close menu open menu
The Vancouver Queer Film Festival

What to watch: Holi-gay Edition

As we close this incredibly difficult year, many of us without our usual celebrations or gatherings, we’ll be looking to stories to affirm our experiences and connect us to the world and our communities. While we stay safe at home, here are a few films to get you through the last few days of 2020, that whether you’re looking for a cathartic cry, a gut-busting laugh, or a journey in a world different from your own surroundings.

Evening Shadows

Set in a village in South India, Evening Shadows follows Kartik, a young gay man in a happy relationship who has yet to come out to his family. When the prospects of an arranged marriage become more real, Kartik must figure out how to tell his family who he really is. Yes, this is another coming-out story, but it’s one which still needs screen time. For many queer folks of colour, the decision to come out is fraught with the fear of losing not only familial support, but also cultural connection. In tight knit South Asian communities, mutual support from family and community is essential to survival, and an integral aspect of culture. Evening Shadows illustrates these complexities with warmth and humour, making it a lovely family film to watch with your household or your family as you distance together.

Where to watch: Netflix

The Queen

This 1968 documentary is a precursor to Paris is Burning, and captures the antics, drama, intimacy and artistry of the Miss All America Camp Beauty Pageant. Audiences will be introduced to many a queen, including the legendary Crystal LaBeija, founder of The House of La Beija, and the contest’s Mistress of Ceremonies, Flawless Sabrina. In between rehearsing and performing, the contestants discuss relationships, drag, draft boards, race, class, sexual and gender identity, and creating space for elegance, art, and community. This glamourous time capsule is perfect viewing for the New Years parties we will not be having this year!

Where to watch: Netflix

Tangerine

When this film premiered in 2016, it was considered a phenomenon for the way it was shot (entirely on an Iphone), but it’s legacy also represents a milestone moment for trans representation on screen. The film stars Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in their breakout roles as Sin-Dee and Alexandra, and their Academy Award campaigns for best actress were the first ever in the history of the awards for trans actors playing trans characters. They also played critical roles informing the work behind the camera, knowing that films about Black women, trans women and sex workers continue misrepresent what are complex and dynamic stories of resilience, resourcefulness and humanity.  In the four years since Tangerine came out, trans representation behind and in front of the camera has only grown. And though it’s set during the holiday season, Tangerine is really a Christmas film because at its heart it is about family, the kind of family that Black trans women and sex workers create despite the ways in which the world maintains brutal repression on thier lives and bodies.

Where to watch: Rent on Google Play, Youtube

Happiest Season

What to say about this film that hasn’t already been subject to a truly deep dive analysis on every queer women’s wesbite on the internet? Clea Duvall’s return to film has prompted quite the passionate shipping of Aubrey Plaza and Kristen Stewart, and spawned a million memes, but more importantly, it’s given many queer women the holiday rom-com they’ve been waiting for.

Where to watch: Prime

Mucho Mucho Amor

This 2020 documentary is dedicated to the life of Latinx astrology icon Walter Mercado, who brought insight, comfort, laughter and high fashion into the lives of millions. Though not openly queer, Mercado’s style and gender-bent presentation was a light and inspiration to many Latinx folks throughout the world longing to see themselves represented in public. His kindness, opulence and charisma shine through in the film, an ode to a man who brought hope to many, and paved the way for Latinx queer and trans folks craving self-determination, optimism and community. Mucho Mucho Amor is a much needed loving balm to the end of an extremely difficult year.

Where to watch: Netflix

Carol

Carol’s stylish, isolated melancholy might feel a bit on the nose during this winter quarantine, but it’s also one of the best queer films of the last decade. Directed by Todd Haynes, whose 1991 film Poison is considered a seminal work of New Queer Cinema, Carol beautifully explores the ways in which patriarchal gender expectations isolate queer women, and the lengths we will go to in order to feel and explore connection and identity. 

Where to watch: Prime