Turner Classic Movies is doing the LGBTQ+ community proud.
The cable channel is featuring the work of queer filmmakers every Monday evening in June for Pride Month. The selection of films is diverse, some with overtly LGBTQ+ content, some that are more coded, and others with a general root-for-the-underdog message. The movies will be introduced by gay TCM host Dave Karger and queer filmmaker Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss).
Read on for what’s coming up tonight and next Monday, from Desert Hearts to Nine to Five to The Watermelon Woman. All times are Eastern; check your local listings.
David France’s Oscar-nominated documentary, from 2012, tells the story of how ACT UP pressured the U.S. government and drug companies for action on AIDS, portraying heroes of the fight such as Larry Kramer and villains like closeted New York City Mayor Ed Koch. The film has both supporters and detractors. Among the latter is Sarah Schulman, author of the recent ACT UP history Let the Record Show; she has criticized France’s film and his related book for concentrating too much on individual white male heroes while ignoring the work of women and people of color — and the fact that progress is made by coalitions. Anyway, keep an open mind and remember it’s just one version of the story.
8 p.m. Monday, June 20
This lesbian love story, directed by Donna Deitch, opened in 1986 to lots of love from women-loving women and their allies for its compelling story, charismatic stars, and an ending far more hopeful than in previous films about same-sex romance. Helen Shaver stars as Vivian Bell, a professor who journeys from New York to Reno, Nev., in the 1950s to get a divorce and unexpectedly becomes involved with Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau), an artist and out-and-proud lesbian. Natalie Cooper wrote the screenplay from Jane Rule’s novel Desert of the Heart.
10 p.m. Monday, June 20
Gay auteur Pedro Almodóvar’s 1989 film has Antonio Banderas as a man with mental health issues who, trying to create the perfect family, kidnaps a porn star (Victoria Abril) in hopes of persuading her to marry him. She may be his captive, but he’s also captive to his obsession. “It’s a tale not of kinky sex, but of a sweeter human bondage, of loose ends tied into lover's knots,” Rita Kempley wrote in The Washington Post.
11:45 p.m. Monday, June 20
Cheryl Dunye co-wrote, directed, and stars in this 1996 film about a young Black lesbian named Cheryl, who works in a video store and is fascinated with a Black 1930s actress who was known only as the Watermelon Woman. Cheryl is determined to find out about the actress’s real life and make a documentary about her, and the project complicates Cheryl’s life as well. Guinevere Turner costars.
1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 21
Almost everyone loves this 1980 comedy about office workers rebelling against a tyrannical boss, but not everyone knows it was written and directed by a gay man, Colin Higgins, whose body of work also includes Harold and Maude, Foul Play, and Silver Streak. Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda star — like we had to tell you that.
8 p.m. Monday, June 27
Todd Haynes has made the leap from cult filmmaker (Poison, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story) to a respected director of more mainstream fare (Far From Heaven, Carol). In between there was 1995’s Safe, with Julianne Moore as a suburban homemaker who finds that her environment is literally toxic to her. The film serves partly as an allegory to the AIDS epidemic. “I wanted to bring up the behavior that we all exhibit around illness, particularly in the way we try to attach meaning and personal responsibility to illness, and how much illness and identity are mixed up with each other,” Haynes has said.
10 p.m. Monday, June 27
James Ivory directed this tale of a self-sacrificing British butler (Anthony Hopkins) working for a morally compromised employer in the era leading up to World War II, with Ivory’s partner in work and life, Ismail Merchant, as producer. The source material is a novel, not by E.M. Forster but by Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go); frequent Merchant-Ivory Ruth Prawer Jhabvala wrote the screenplay. Emma Thompson costars in the 1993 release. Merchant died in 2005, but Ivory has carried on, winning an Oscar for writing 2017’s Call Me by Your Name.
12:15 a.m., Tuesday, July 28.
Other films TCM will show as part of the LGBTQ+ directors series include Rose Troche’s Go Fish, John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, Chantal Akerman’s News From Home, Gus Van Sant’s Mala Noche, Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames, and Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice. Go to TCM.com for details.