Maudern Movies, a weekly series that curates films for your viewing pleasure. The following flicks were curated by LA-based couple Natalie Shirinian, Filmmaker, Founder of NES and Femme en Feast, and Elizabeth Baudouin–Writer, Partner at NES.
Since Y2K, the rare depictions of LGBTQ stories that have been championed point to the palpable lack within Hollywood. These features have rightfully broken into the often hetero-focused plots and continue to pave the way for a more diverse cinematic canon.
From period-piece Portrait of a Lady on Fire to early 2000s Kissing Jessica Stein these movies are anything if not groundbreaking in their display of relationships—and the secrecy and prejudice that they are often met with. Academy-award winning Moonlight from director Barry Jenkins showcases an often unseen look at Black gay love. Tangerine is a powerful and gritty portrait of transgender sex work in Hollywood. The others show the discovery of identity and attraction between women. Here are five films of the last two decades that have been instrumental in the depiction of LQBTQ relationships.
Kissing Jessica Stein, 2001
Directed by: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Starring: Jennifer Westfeldt, Heather Juergensen, Scott Cohen
New York editor Jessica (Westfeldt) has had no luck with love. She answers personal an ad in the newspaper and goes on her first date with another woman—a gallerist Helen (Juergensen). At first, Jessica remains closeted about her sexuality to her friends and family, but things get more complicated as the dynamics of her relationship unfold.
Where to watch: Amazon, Vudu
Kyss Mig (Kiss Me), 2011
Directed by: Alexandra-Therese Keining
Starring: Liv Mjönes, Ruth Vega Fernandez, Lena Endre
The Swedish film centers around Mia (Mjönes) a young woman who begins to fall for her father’s fiances daughter Frida (Fernandez) despite her recent engagement to her boyfriend Tim. On a weekend away the two spend the night together, returning to their normal lives and partners even with though their feelings remain. While their secret relationship continues, they both must decide what a future together would look like and how being together would disrupt their existing lives
Where to watch: Amazon
Directed by: Sean Baker
Starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, James Ransone
Upon returning from serving a short prison sentence, Sin-Dee Rella (Rodriguez), a transgender sex worker in Hollywood, finds out her boyfriend and pimp has been cheating on her with a cis-woman. Sin-Dee and her best friend Alexandra (Taylor) seek out her boyfriend Chester and the other woman as Alexandra prepares for a Christmas eve performance. Ultimately, the pair find Chester at a donut shop where he reveals his indiscretions.
Where to watch: Amazon, Hulu, Vudu
Directed by: Barry Jenkins
Starring: Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monáe
From the same director behind If Beale Street Could Talk & Medicine for Melancholy, Moonlight follows the life of a homosexual Black man in Miami. Chiron, the son of crack-addict, is taken in by Juan (Ali) a local drug dealer through the neglect and homophobia from Chiron’s mother. As a teen, he continues to struggle with his sexuality and encounters violence and bullying at his school. Later in life, despite living in Atlanta, the people from his past continue to influence his sense of self.
Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, Vudu
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, 2019
Directed by: Céline Sciamma
Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami
Set in 1770, Marianne (Merlant) a French painter is commissioned to paint Héloïse's (Haenel), young engaged woman, portrait. The painting is done secretly, from a distance, as the young bride-to-be refuses a portrait and is reluctant about her upcoming wedding. To get more details of her face for the painting, Marianne is positioned as Héloïse's companion by her fiance and as they get closer they two begin a secret love affair.
Where to watch: Amazon, Hulu