Outfest’s Queerantine List

Practicing self-isolation? The programming team at Outfest put together this ultimate list of films & TV to watch on streaming platforms to keep your queer hearts entertained. 

By Mike Dougherty

March 20, 2020

Dear White People

Film critic Pauline Kael once described the essence of movie fandom with a quote so on point in its simplicity, I often think about it after I’ve had yet another exhilarating chat (or argument) about a film: “Being able to talk about movies with someone — to share the giddy high excitement you feel — is enough for a friendship. 

These are strange times for all of us. Many of us are staying home, trying to keep busy, but finding ourselves with lots more free time to fill, and unsure of when things might start to feel back on track. It’s 2020, so streaming movies and shows is the go-to for passing the time. But I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of mindlessly scrolling through an endless list of titles, never finding something that sounds exactly like what you’re in the mood for.

In an effort to help you whittle down that list, my fellow nerds on the Outfest programming team and I have rummaged through the catalogs of some of our favorite streaming services, and we’ve selected a pretty extensive list of our favorite queer films and series that are currently on offer. Use the following suggestions to program your own mini film festival with some friends, or start that series you’ve been putting off, and get to gabbing about it with your chosen family! Come back here and tell us what you thought in the comments! We’re all ready for a little of that giddy high excitement Pauline Kael talked about…let’s get to watching.  — Mike Dougherty, Outfest Director of Festival Programming

NETFLIX

Dear White People (series) 

Justin Simien’s biting, witty series set at the fictional Ivy League college Winchester University – and spun-off from his 2014 feature – is at its queerest in season 3. Time to catch up!

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (How I Felt When I Saw That Girl)

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (How I Felt When I Saw That Girl) 

A Bollywood charmer about a young woman’s attempts to come out to her family, who’ve put her on the traditional track to marriage.

God’s Own Country

God’s Own Country 

The opening night film at Outfest Los Angeles 2017, Francis Lee’s romance between two young men in the English countryside is quickly gaining queer classic status.

Handsome Devil 

At a rugby-obsessed Irish boarding school, outsider Ned befriends the new star athlete Conor, who’s coming to terms with his own identity. Hot Priest himself Andrew Scott co-stars as the boys’ inspirational teacher!

Loev

On the more independent side of Indian cinema, a weekend trip between two friends reveals the simmering tensions between them in Suds Saria’s sharply observed, groundbreaking film.

Lovesong

Lovesong

Jena Malone and Riley Keough are breathtaking in this Sundance selection about two friends whose connection deepens on a road trip, and then years later, reignites at a wedding.

Moonlight

We’d be surprised if loyal Outfest members haven’t yet seen Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture winner, but always good to know it’s there to revisit!

Next in Fashion (series)

Queer Eye’s Tan France and model/designer Alexa Chung host a fashion design competition show that’s heavy on jaw-dropping talent, short on manufactured reality TV drama. The cast – many of them fabulously queer! – let their fantastic designs do all the talking.

Paris is Burning

Paris is Burning

The influence of this documentary – a deep dive into New York’s 1980s ballroom scene — is still being felt today, and if you’ve still not caught up with it, now’s the time. 

Pose (series)

Did we say something about Paris is Burning’s influence? Season 1 of the hit FX series is up on Netflix, and since it’s one of the best things on television today, you’d better dive in now.

The Queen

The ballroom and the pageants just won’t stop! The mother of them all, this 1968 doc charts the competition at the 1967 Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant, featuring legends Flawless Sabrina and Crystal LaBeija.

Strike a Pose

The backup dancers from Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition tour (documented famously in Truth or Dare) are revisited 25 years later. 

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar

25 years later, this drag queen road trip delight still feels of the moment, and its laughs and heart are both as big as ever. Just remember: if you want them to know there is steak for dinner, you got to let them hear it sizzle!

The Bisexual

HULU

The Bisexual (series)

Desiree Akhavan has made two classic queer feature films (Appropriate Behavior and The Miseducation of Cameron Post), but her Hulu series – about the aftermath of a breakup between two women launching a startup in London – is criminally underseen. Utterly hilarious, with a supporting cast to die for, you’ll zip right through these episodes and beg for more.

BPM

Set among the members of ACT UP Paris in the 1990s, Robin Campillo’s masterpiece is at once a tender love story and a rousing call to political action.

Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (series)

Australian comedian Josh Thomas brings his distinct style and humor to the U.S., as a man tasked with the care of his two teenage sisters (one of whom is on the autism spectrum) after their father’s death. The endless gay male neuroses and the high school hijinks makes for an unusual, but endlessly enjoyable, blend.

The Gospel According to Andre

Iconic fashion journalist André Leon Talley is profiled in this doc, that charts his early life in the segregated south, to his rise in the fashion world, to the changing shape of his work in Trump’s America.

Kiki

Kiki

The vibrant youth at NYC’s Christopher Street Pier form a family, and practice the artform of ballroom in this exhilarating Outfest alum.

Please Like Me (series)

Oh hey, it’s Josh Thomas again! This is the comedy series that introduced Thomas to most of the world (and most of us met Hannah Gadsby for the first time here, too!), starring Josh as a twenty-something dealing with the tribulations of being newly out and caring for his mother.

Princess Cyd

Stephen Cone’s one-of-a-kind coming-of-age film stars Jessie Pinnick as 16-year-old Cyd, who discovers a new love while staying with her aunt one summer in Chicago.

Tangerine

Tangerine

Mya Taylor and Kiki Rodriguez broke out in a big way in Sean Baker’s Sundance hit, about two trans sex workers getting by on the streets of Hollywood.

The Thing About Harry* (*requires Hulu’s Live TV plan)

Peter Paige directs this ridiculously charming gay romcom about the years-long friendship between Sam (Grey’s Anatomy’s Jake Borelli) and Harry, which could possibly tip into romance.

CRITERION CHANNEL

If you love arthouse and international fare, this service is a treasure trove of some of the best cinema ever created. A few classics we love.

Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts (Restored by the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project)

Donna Deitch’s Lesbian classic, set in 1950s Nevada, charts the unlikely romance between a professor on the edge of divorce and a ranchowner’s daughter.

Fassbinder Collection

Criterion’s got a ton of films (and series!) by one of the greatest queer filmmakers of all time, but for those seeking his queerest, we’d recommend starting with The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Fox and His Friends, and Querelle

Happy Together

Wong Kar Wai’s ultimate bad romance see heartthrob Tony Leung on a trip to Argentina with his ornery lover, and charts their divergent paths in his signature dreamy style.

I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone

Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang Is an acquired taste: expect long stretches of quiet, meticulous camera angles, close attention to sound. In this film, the relationship between an injured day laborer and the man who nurses him back to health lives within his signature style. For the adventurous cineaste, it’s rewarding!

Je tu il elle

Belgian arthouse legend Chantal Akerman directed this, her first feature, in 1974, about a woman’s strange journey back to the lover she’s determined to win back

The Long Day Closes

In master filmmaker Terence Davies’ 1992 film, eleven-year-old Bud identifies both his nascent love affair with cinema and his sexuality amidst a poetic reverie of image and sound.

Mala Noche

Mala Noche

Gus Van Sant’s first feature sees a young man become infatuated with an undocumented immigrant, who unfortunately may not return the feeling.

Orlando

One of Tilda Swinton’s most iconic roles exists in Sally Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel about a young nobleman commanded by Elizabeth I to stay young forever.

Portrait of Jason

In 1967, Shirley Clarke extensively interviewed black gay hustler Jason Holliday to make this enlightening and unforgettable capsule of 1960s America.

Raging Sun, Raging Sky

Raging Sun, Raging Sky

Mexican director Julián Hernández directs this three-hour epic, and otherworldly tale of love between two men separated by an abduction, and brought together again through what is perhaps divine intervention.

Stranger by the Lake

At a popular lakeside cruising spot, the steamy hook-ups between two men take a sinster turn when one witnesses the other committing a murder.

The Times of Harvey Milk (Restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive)

Rob Epstein’s Oscar-winning documentary is the definitive portrait of California’s first openly gay public official.

Water Lilies

Water Lilies

If you loved Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, check out her earlier collaboration with Adèle Haenel, who stars in this coming-of-age tale about a suburban teenager desperate to get closer to the bad girl on the local synchronized swimming team.

AMAZON PRIME

We all know you can rent plenty on Amazon for a price; but these titles stream free with your Prime subscription.

The Birdcage

The Birdcage

You’ve likely seen it, but this classic is always good for a belly laugh (or twenty)

Disobedience

Rachel Weisz and McAdams burn up this story of the reconnection between two women in a London Orthodox Jewish community whose love affair causes a commotion.

G.B.F.

This fun and funny high school comedy explores the newly discovered social capital that comes with having a Gay Best Friend.

The Hours

Michael Cunningham’s multi-generational story of three women connected by Virginia Woolf (including, well…Woolf herself) won Nicole Kidman an Oscar.

KANOPY

If you’ve got a Los Angeles Public Library card, you’ve got access to this service for FREE! Contains lots from the Criterion Collection as well, plus many more titles. There’s an extensive LGBTQ catalog to choose from, here’s some of our recommendations.

Closet Monster

Closet Monster

In this Canadian mixture of young love, light body horror, and absurdist comedy, a young man comes to terms with his sexuality despite resistance from his father, and with the help of his hamster voiced by – we kid you not – Isabella Rossellini!

Derek Jarman collection

One of the most celebrated queer filmmakers in history has a huge portion of his catalog available here. We’d start with Sebastiane, Blue, or Edward II.

Funeral Parade of Roses

Funeral Parade of Roses

The Japanese gay and transgender community form the backbone of Toshio Matsumoto’s 1970 Japanese New Wave classic, inspired by the work of Jean Luc Godard.

Good Manners

One of the most original queer horror films to emerge in recent years, this Brazilian wonder charts the relationship between a wealthy Sao Paulo pregnant woman and her new caretaker. The romance that develops is complicated by the fact that mom’s new infant might be…a werewolf? Also, it’s sometimes a musical!

Gregg Araki

One of the pioneers of new queer cinema has two of his classics available for view: The Living End and Totally F***ed Up.

Knife + Heart

1970s France. A slasher begins offing the cast and crew of a gay porn film in Yann Gonzalez’s new queer masterpiece — perfect for all us perverts with hearts of gold. Accompanied by a gorgeous score from the director’s brother: Anthony Gonzalez of M83.

Rafiki

Two young women in Kenya risk everything for their budding romance in this remarkable debut by Wanuri Kahiu.

Spa Night

Spa Night

Andrew Ahn’s feature debut, a Sundance hit, centers on an 18-year-old man who discovers his sexuality amidst his job as an attendant at a spa that’s host to a furtive gay cruising scene.

The Watermelon Woman

Cheryl Dunye’s film – one of the masterpieces of New Queer Cinema – exists at the intersection of race, sexuality, academia, and 90s video store culture. Dunye stars as a filmmaker researching a black actress from 1930s Hollywood while tending to a budding romance with Diana, played by the eternally wonderful Guinevere Turner.

Subscribe!

Get the latest in queer events, media, and culture. Sign up for our newsletter here