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Sundance 2020: The LGBTQ Films
The LGBTQ Films of Sundance 2020
Many of the year's best films -- LGBTQ or otherwise -- gain momentum at the Sundance Film Festival, the annual cinematic gathering in Park City, Utah. This year's queer offerings are the strongest yet. Below, see the productions that showcase the stories and lives of the LGBTQ community, which may go on to change the world through commercial and critical success. For tickets or more information, visit Sundance.org.
Images and descriptions courtesy of Sundance.
And Then We Danced / Sweden, Georgia, France
In the conservative confines of modern Tbilisi, in the republic of Georgia, Merab, a competitive dancer, is thrown off balance by the arrival of Irakli, a fellow male dancer with a rebellious streak.
Director and screenwriter: Levan Akin, Producers: Mathilde Dedye, Ketie Daniela; Cast: Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakhishvilli, Kakha Gogidze, Anano Makharadze.
Boys State / U.S.A.
In an unusual experiment, a thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.
Directors: Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine, Producers: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss. World Premiere
Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen / U.S.A.
An investigation of how Hollywood's fabled stories have deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves.
Director: Sam Feder, Producers: Amy Scholder, Sam Feder; Cast: Laverne Cox, Mj Rodriguez, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Chaz Bono, Jamie Clayton. World Premiere
Ema / Chile
After a shocking incident upends her family life and marriage to a tempestuous choreographer, Ema, a reggaeton dancer, sets out on an odyssey of personal liberation in this incendiary story of art, desire, and the modern family.
Director: Pablo Larrain, Screenwriters: Guillermo Calderon, Pablo Larrain, Alejandro Moreno, Producer: Juan de Dios Larrain; Cast: Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Santiago Cabrera.
Falling / Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark
When 80-year-old independent farmer Willis travels to Los Angeles for an indefinite stay with son John and his family, two very different worlds collide. Willis is mentally declining, and his abrasiveness is both caustic and funny, bringing old wounds from the past and years of mutual mistrust to the surface.
Director and screenwriter: Viggo Mortensen, Producers: Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Bekerman, Chris Curling; Cast: Lance Henriksen, Viggo Mortensen, Terry Chen, Sverrir Gudnason, Hannah Gross, Laura Linney. World Premiere.
I Carry You With Me / U.S.A., Mexico
An epic love story spanning decades is sparked by a chance encounter between two men in provincial Mexico. In the film, based on a true story, ambition and societal pressure propel an aspiring chef to leave his soulmate and make the treacherous journey to New York, where life will never be the same.
Director: Heidi Ewing, Screenwriters: Heidi Ewing, Alan Page Arriaga, Producers: Mynette Louie, Heidi Ewing; Cast: Armando Espitia, Christian Vazquez, Michelle Rodriguez, Angeles Cruz, Arcelia Ramirez, Michelle Gonzalez. World Premiere
Jumbo / France, Luxembourg, Belgium
Jeanne, a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. At the park Jeanne meets Jumbo, its new flagship attraction.
Director and screenwriter: Zoe Wittock, Producers: Anais Bertrand, Annabella Nezri, Gilles Chanial; Cast: Noemie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Sam Louwyck. World Premiere
Kajillionaire / U.S.A.
Low-stakes grifters Old Dolio and her parents invite a chipper young woman into their insular clan, only to have their entire world turned upside down.
Director and screenwriter: Miranda July, Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner; Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger. World Premiere
La Leyenda Negra / U.S.A.
In Compton, Calif., soon-to-be undocumented teenager fights for her right to stay in America while risking her family, her friendships, and her first love.
Director and screenwriter: Patricia Vidal Delgado, Producers: Alicia Herder, Marcel Perez; Cast: Monica Betancourt, Kailei Lopez, Irlanda Moreno, Justin Avila, Sammy Flores, Juan Reynoso. World Premiere
Mucho Mucho Amor / U.S.A.
Once the world's most famous astrologer, Walter Mercado seeks to resurrect a forgotten legacy. Raised in the sugar cane fields of Puerto Rico, Walter grew up to become a gender-nonconforming, cape-wearing psychic whose televised horoscopes reached 120 million viewers a day for decades before he mysteriously disappeared.
Directors: Cristina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch, Producer: Alex Fumero; World Premiere
The Nowhere Inn / U.S.A.
When St. Vincent sets out to make a documentary about her music, the goal is to both reveal and revel in the unadorned truth behind her onstage persona. But when she hires a close friend to direct, notions of reality, identity, and authenticity grow increasingly distorted and bizarre.
Director: Bill Benz, Screenwriters: Carrie Brownstein, Annie Clark, Producers: Jett Steiger, Lana Kim, Annie Clark, Carrie Brownstein; Cast: Annie Clark, Carrie Brownstein. World Premiere
Shirley / U.S.A.
A young couple moves in with the famed author Shirley Jackson and her Bennington College professor husband, Stanley Hyman, in the hope of starting a new life but instead find themselves fodder for a psychodrama that inspires Shirley's next novel.
Director: Josephine Decker, Screenwriter: Sarah Gubbins, Producers: Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Sue Naegle, Sarah Gubbins, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman; Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman. World Premiere
The Fight / U.S.A.
Inside the American Civil Liberties Union, a team of scrappy lawyers battle President Trump's historic assault on civil liberties. As the president separates families, blocks abortion access, expels transgender soldiers, and rolls back voting rights, these gutsy attorneys struggle to stop an unpredictable adversary with unlimited resources.
Directors: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Producers: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Maya Seidler, Peggy Drexler, Kerry Washington; World Premiere
The Go-Go's / U.S.A., Ireland, Canada
As the first all-female band to play their instruments, write their songs, and have a number 1 album, the Go-Go's made history. Underpinned by candid testimonies, this film chronicles the meteoric rise to fame of a band born in the LA punk scene who became a pop phenomenon.
Director: Alison Ellwood, Producers: Trevor Birney, Corey Russell, Eimhear O'Neill; Cast: Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, Jane Wiedlin. World Premiere
Uncle Frank / U.S.A.
In 1973, when 18-year-old Beth and her uncle Frank take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, S.C., for the family patriarch's funeral, they're unexpectedly joined by Frank's lover Walid. A story about family, forgiveness, and our inherent power to choose who we want to be.
Director and screenwriter: Alan Ball, Producers: Alan Ball, Peter Macdissi, Michael Costigan, Jay Van Hoy, Bill Block, Stephanie Meurer; Cast: Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Margo Martindale. World Premiere
Welcome to Chechnya / U.S.A.
This searing investigative work shadows a group of activists risking unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic. Unfettered access and a remarkable approach to protecting anonymity exposes this underreported atrocity-and an extraordinary group of people confronting evil.
Director: David France, Producers: Alice Henty, David France, Askold Kurov, Joy A. Tomchin; World Premiere
Whirlybird / U.S.A.
Soaring above the chaotic spectacle of '80s and '90s Los Angeles, a young couple revolutionized breaking news with their brazen helicopter reporting. Culled from this news duo's sprawling video archive is a poignant L.A. story of a family in turbulence hovering over a city unhinged.
Director: Matt Yoka, Producers: Diane Becker, Matt Yoka; World Premiere
Atomu / France, Kenya, U.S.A., United Kingdom
Go inside the cyclical center of a Kikuyu Tribal Myth from Kenya, where man may become woman and woman may become man. Through virtual reality, dance, and music, a sacred space is created to explore many versions of yourself.
Lead Artists: Shariffa Ali, Yetunde Dada, Key Collaborators: Antoine Cayrol, Rafael Pavon, Arnaud Colinart, Opeyemi Olukemi, Annick Jakobowicz, Stephen Buescher, Andrew Orkin, Banna Desta, Toby Coffey, Steve Jelly, Simon Windsor, Akash Kushwaha, Darren Sinnott; Cast: Ira Mandela Siobhan, Sonya Cullingford.
Arabian Alien / Saudi Arabia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Meshal Aljaser) -- Saad, a Muslim married man, gets over his depression after a space alien is introduced into his life. World Premiere
Buck / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Elegance Bratton, Jovan James) -- Caught in the throes of a depressive funk, young Lynn resorts to debauchery to find joy -- only to discover that happiness is a much more complicated proposition. World Premiere
Dirty / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Puccini) -- Marco cuts class to spend the afternoon with his boyfriend, Graham. Things do not go as planned. World Premiere
eadem cutis: the same skin / Germany (Director: Nina Hopf) -- "I just want to be seen as who I am today!" John shares his thoughts on identity, body, and gender and gives a very personal insight into his life -- and an intimate proximity to his body. North American Premiere
John Was Trying to Contact Aliens / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Killip) -- John Shepherd spent 30 years trying to contact extraterrestrials by broadcasting music millions of miles into space. After giving up the search he makes a different connection here on earth. World Premiere.
Pillars / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Haley Elizabeth Anderson) -- After seeing a boy she likes before church, Amber sneaks out to the Sunday school bathroom during the service and is given her first kiss. World Premiere
Ship: A Visual Poem / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terrance Daye) -- A Black boy learns contradicting lessons of manhood and masculinity on the day of his cousin's funeral.
The Starr Sisters / U.S.A. (Directors: Beth Einhorn, Bridey Elliott) -- Patte and Randa Starr are fun specialists. After overcoming a dark past, these sisters are inseparable. Now in their 70s, they do exactly as they please and their candy drawer is always fully stocked.
While I'm Still Breathing (Tandis Que Je Respire Encore) / France (Directors: Laure Giappiconi, Elisa Monteil, La Fille Renne, Screenwriter: Laure Giappiconi) -- The blurred portrayal of a young woman as she moves through three steps of her sexuality. North American Premiere