Two Festivals Bring LGBTQ+ Films to Forefront

Photo: AFI Fest. ABOVE – Joachim Trier’s lesbian drama “Thelma” will screen as one of AFI Fest’s LGBTQ+ World Cinema selections.

Early November in Los Angeles presents a great opportunity for local cinephiles to dip their toes in some of the most interesting upcoming films from Hollywood and beyond. From Nov. 9 – 16, the American Film Institute will celebrate its 50-year anniversary by shining a light on auteurs and film centerpieces that are elevating the art form worldwide. Slightly earlier on Nov. 3 – 5, the 20th annual Arpa Film Festival will bring the best of current international film into focus. When it comes to a diverse selection of LGBTQ+ films, both festivals have seriously stepped up to the plate this year. Here are just a few of the selects that have got us counting the days until wide release.

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1. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

AFI Festival Centerpiece: Limited Release in Theaters on November 24.

Obviously, this comes in high at the top of any anticipated films list, especially since it’s been talked about like the second coming of Christ back in the days when an adaptation of Andre Aciman’s novel was a nothing more than mere rumor. Armie Hammer and new talent Timothee Chalamet star as a gay couple with a decade or so between them, trying to make sense of their forbidden attraction in the steamy north of Italy.

2. Mudbound (2017)

AFI Festival Opening Night Gala: Wide Release via Netflix on November 17.

Queer filmmaker Dee Rees is responsible for bringing us the excellent “Pariah” in 2011, a story about a young lesbian who finds the strength to come out despite the demands and desires of a deeply traditional family. “Mudbound” is Rees’ exploration of a WWII-era deep South, as Jim Crow laws and extreme poverty threaten to tear families and lovers apart.

3. Thelma (2017)

AFI Festival World Cinema Selection: Limited Release on November 10.

Filmmaker Joachim Trier tells the story of Thelma, a young lesbian from a conservative Norwegian household who discovers that strange powers come with her sexuality. Described as a “supernatural psychosexual horror film,” “Thelma” is a coming-of-age story with high stakes and a dramatic, “Carrie”-esque conclusion.

4. Listen to Me: Untold Stories Beyond Hatred (2016)

Arpa Film Festival Nominee for Best Documentary: Wide Release date unknown

In director Gagik Ghazareh’s moving documentary, we follow out gay Armenian Americans as they try to reconcile their conflicting identities. While Vahan, a gay Armenian American, moves back to Armenia and away from his intolerant family, Tsomak, an out lesbian, moves to America after a violent attack on the Armenian gay bar DIY.

5. Apricot Groves (2016)

Arpa Film Festival Nominee for Best Feature Film: Wide Release date unknown

In Iranian auteur Pouria Heidary Oureh’s debut film, Aram, a trans man goes back to his hometown in Armenia to propose to his girlfriend on home soil. Back in Armenia, however, Aram’s innocent proposal meets with unexpected obstacles.

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