The LGBT+ Films Taking Sundance by Storm

We look ahead at this year’s LGBT film offerings, as 2017 is shaping up to be a rich year for diverse and game-changing queer cinema.

Call Me By Your Name

If you haven’t heard about this one, you soon will. Set to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Call Me By Your Name is adapted from the palpably erotic, dreamy novel of the same name. Set in 1980s Italy, the film charts the obsessive love affair between a reserved 17-year-old American boy and the charming 24-year-old scholar (Armie Hammer, no less) who spends a summer boarding with his family. If the film is anything like its source material, you can expect some seriously steamy scenes – it is directed by A Bigger Splash’s Luca Guadagnino after all – and better yet, a probing insight into the complexities of young love and desire. Recent news that everyone’s favourite lilting serenader Sufjan Stevens is composing original music for the film has only sent anticipation to impossible heights.

God’s Own Country

Not a lot is known about this home-grown drama, aside from its Yorkshire setting (guaranteed to be moody) and promising selection for this year’s Sundance Film Festival. However, we can optimistically expect something special, considering the film is writer/director Francis Lee’s feature debut and partially based on his own experiences growing up – enough to grant it a prestigious bow at Sundance. Focussing on Johnny, an isolated young farmer who has forgone pursuing his dreams in order to take care of his family, his aimless existence is upended with the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker his father hires. Amidst the oppressively beautiful Yorkshire countryside passions grow and… Well, we’ll leave the rest for you to find out. Sundance’s write-up states, “This one is not to be missed.” We wouldn’t dare.

The Handmaiden

You may be familiar with the deliciously twisted films of South Korean maestro Chan-wook Park, from Oldboy to his recent English-language effort Stoker. Now he’s back with an adaptation of Fingersmith – a novel famously given the small screen treatment as a BBC mini-series in 2005 – relocating the simmering drama from Victorian London to Korea under Japanese colonial rule. Without giving away too much of the plot, there is lust, betrayal, class division, and an illicit lesbian affair at the heart of the story. Oh, and the trailer is off-the-hook intense (see below). Having already premiered at Cannes last year, The Handmaiden has since been doing the festival rounds to widespread critical acclaim, and will finally receive its long-awaited UK release on April 14th. It’s safe to say this will be another mesmerising exercise in style from one of the most exciting directors working today.

Moonlight

Likelihood is that this one is already on your radar, and rightfully so. Steamrolling through this awards season with major nominations from BAFTA and a Best Motion Picture Drama victory at the Golden Globes, Moonlight lives up to the hype. Spanning three key stages in the life of a gay black man in 1980s Miami – timid boy to tortured teen to streetwise man – this is a work nothing short of astonishing in its portrayal of themes scarcely explored on film together. Managing to break down barriers and gain mainstream recognition is a testament to the film’s profound and unflinching depiction of masculinity, and how it is reconciled with sexuality, family, and culture. Once in a blue moon a film dealing with LGBT issues comes along that has a significant, lasting impact. Moonlight’s place in that canon is undeniable. Out in the UK on February 17th, we can’t implore you enough to see it.

The Wound

Certainly one of the most intriguing entries in this year’s Sundance Film Festival line-up is this South African set drama. The story concerns a closeted young factory worker whose identity and safety is threatened in the wake of a ritual circumcision ceremony in his rural village. He is subsequently taken under the wing of an uncommonly empathetic mentor, unlike the other hyper-masculine performative men of the area, who may be more like him than he realises. The film promises a glimpse into a world most of us have never been exposed to, and a gripping story of masculinity in a culture where questions of sexuality are virtually unheard (or unspoken).

Images courtesy of Sundance

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