All voters and votes: The 30 Best LGBT Films of All Time

Find out what over 100 critics, writers and programmers voted for in our poll to celebrate 30 years of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival.

Updated:

Weekend (2011)

Weekend (2011)

As BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary, we asked over 100 film experts to vote for their 10 favourite LGBT films.

Explore The 30 Best LGBT Films of All Time

Critics, writers and programmers such as Joanna Hogg, Mark Cousins, Peter Strickland, Richard Dyer, Nick James and Laura Mulvey took part, as well as past and present BFI Flare programmers. Find out which films all of our contributors voted for.

Tom Abell, Chairman Peccadillo Pictures

Weekend (2011)
Pink Narcissus (1971)
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Stranger by the Lake (2013)
Tomboy (2011)
Before Stonewall (1984)
Beautiful Thing (1996)
Bound (1996)
Drôle de Félix (2000)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Bisi Alimi, Director, Bisi Alimi Foundation

Paris Is Burning (1990)
What really is there not to love about this epic gay ballroom film?

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
The queens are coming and they are taking loads of prisoners… Brilliant, witty and edgy.

Call Me Kuchu (2012)
Depressing but uplifting at the same time. The story of fearless humans taking on the giant hate agenda. They are my heroes.

Free Fall (2013)
This film says a lot about the conflicts between sexual identity and sexual behaviour. The conflict between who we are and who we want to be.

Brother Outsider – the Life of Bayard Rustin
Bayard is my hero, this film is the best I have ever watched.

Stud Life (2012)

Brother to Brother (2004)
A story of love and intergenerational challenge between two black men and the world around them.

The Imitation Game (2014)
Brilliant.

Nigel Andrews, Film Critic, Financial Times

Pandora’s Box (1929)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Le Sang d’un Poète (1932)
Morocco (1930)
Sebastiane (1976)
Poison (1991)
Un chant d’amour (1950)
Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Vive L’Amour (1994)

Corrina Antrobus, Founder and Director, Bechdel Test Fest

Appropriate Behaviour (2014)
Pariah (2011)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Lilting (2014)
Tangerine (2015)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Although problematic in its apparent male gaze and unrealistic gay lovemaking, the performances of Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos are charged with snap-crackling chemistry. The tender eroticism actually lies more in the subtle acts of the mundane – Adèle’s ravenous eating, or simply strolling across the road.

Set It Off (1996)
Butch but blasé, Queen Latifah and her cute but mute girlfriend add a refreshing dynamic to this movie brimming with spirited women. There’s no social upset on sexual preference, no rib-jabbing jokes nor is it a cog in the plot, the film plays it no mind and neither should we.

A Single Man (2009)
Bitterly sad yet wincingly beautiful. An exquisite film of sorrow with style.

The Watermelon Woman (1996)

Pelo malo (2013)
Samuel Lange Zambrano’s stirring performance as a young boy grappling with his identity is charged with an ambiguity that leaves an open-ended question to how we determine sexuality. Poised, loaded and provocative.

Sam Ashby, Editor, Little Joe Magazine

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
Toshio Matsumoto’s psychedelic trans-Oedipal bloodbath is entirely insane, in the best possible way.

Death in Venice (1971)
Utterly gorgeous, and the pinnacle of cinematic art.

Blue (1993)
Through the voices of his friends and a rich soundscape, Derek Jarman draws the viewer into his vision-impaired world – a vision rendered only in blue. Jarman’s importance cannot be overstated, and this, his final film, is for me the ultimate expression of his unique voice.

Stranger by the Lake (2013)
By turns hilarious and horrifying, Stranger by the Lake is a fascinating study of the power of desire set entirely at a gay cruising ground in the South of France.

Cabaret (1972)
“Divine decadence darling!”

Theorem (1968)
Pasolini’s most accessible and entertaining film stars Terence Stamp as a mysterious youth who, one by one, seduces each member of a wealthy Milanese family. Teorema makes my brain hard.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
I cannot be objective about this movie: Gus Van Sant’s Shakespearean road movie holds a particularly special place in my heart the exact shape of Keanu Reeves holding a sleeping River Phoenix.

Paris Is Burning (1990)
While many see this film as exploitative, its subject – New York’s vogue ball culture – is beyond unique. There’s no denying its power and influence. Paris Is Burning is an important film which raises complex questions about race, class, and gender still prescient today.

Querelle (1982)
An astounding achievement, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s adaptation of Jean Genet’s 1947 novel was also his final film. Its influence on me was immediate, and was my entry point to Fassbinder’s vast oeuvre. Special mention must also go to Fox and His Friends (1975).

Happy Together (1997)
Enduringly sad, this beautiful portrait of a complex love affair between two young men from Hong Kong sets the standard that most romances, gay or straight, can only hope to match.

Michael Atkinson, Critic

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Tropical Malady (2004)
The Long Day Closes (1992)
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Michael (1924)
The Conformist (1970)
Beyond the Hills (2012)
Happy Together (1997)

Robin Baker, Head curator, BFI National Archive

Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1895)
From the very dawn of cinema we see two men dancing together. Lovers? Very probably not, but it’s a potent moment.

Different from the Others (1919)
A remarkably sympathetic early portrait of homosexuality, written by and briefly starring Magnus Hirschfeld, sexologist and campaigner for gay and trans rights.

Borderline (1930)
Borderline’s portrayal of race and sexuality was groundbreaking. OK, the elements of sexuality are more in the subtext – but what sensual and surprising subtext! And great to see lesbian poet HD (Hilda Doolittle) on screen.

A Canterbury Tale (1944)
More lesbians (or at least, characters with an air of the Sapphic about them) inhabit A Canterbury Tale than any other British film of the 1940s. It helps that one of them is portrayed by lesbian actor Judith Furse.

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Sexy. Radical. Truly extraordinary.

Victim (1961)
Few films have proved as politically important as this. It was also very important for star Dirk Bogarde, as evidenced in his annotated script, now held in the BFI National Archive.  

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Race, homophobia and marginalisation in Thatcher’s Britain – and all delivered with humour and charm. Am extraordinary tour de force from Frears and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi.

Happy Together (1997)
An intelligently complex and emotional portrait of a relationship in its final throes. I remember trying to programme this in the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, only to be told by its distributor that it wasn’t ‘a gay film’. Yeah…  

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
If the number of tears that I shed while watching this are any measure of its greatness, well, this is a bona fide masterpiece.

Weekend (2011)
Real people. Real situations. No gay ‘issues’. A wonderful antidote to the clichés of LGBT cinema. This is the very best kind of relationship drama – gay or otherwise.

Upekha Bandaranayake, DVD and Blu-ray Producer, BFI

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Desert Hearts (1985)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Beautiful Thing (1996)
I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)
Happy Together (1997)
Show Me Love (1998)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Beginners (2010)
Gayby Baby (2015)

Christine Bardsley, Film Programme Manager

The Duke of Burgundy (2014)
Nominally a contemporary British film but everything about it screams 70s European, with its softly saturated colour and dreamy unspecific rural setting. Seemingly an exquisitely mannered study of an elaborate lesbian sub/dom relationship, it is at its heart an achingly beautiful love story.

Caravaggio (1985)
No top 10 LGBT film list would be complete without a film by Derek Jarman – painter, poet, activist and queer cinema maverick. This is probably his most accessible film and his most beautiful. With an artist’s eye he brings to life episodes from the painter’s life and works.

Undertow (2009)
A leisurely and lovely tale of a bisexual triangle set in a Peruvian fishing village, this film is both a tender ghost story and an examination of South American machismo. Think a Latin Brokeback Mountain meets Ghost! This measured, sensitive investigation of marriage, masculinity and devotion is ultimately very moving.

Happy Together (1997)
An ironic title – this pair of bickering Cantonese gay lovers stranded in Argentina are patently far from happy together. Wong Kar-Wai’s eye for wistful symbolism – highlighting Buenos Aires as Hong Kong’s antipode – and improvisational techniques make this lyrical break-up film a stunning and innovative piece of work.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Few people wrote more eloquently about Thatcher’s Britain than Hanif Kureishi. Here he confronts its preoccupations with class, race and sexuality and gives his lovers Omar and Johnny a choice – live within society’s conventions or dare to step outside. It is both a tender love story and biting comedy.

Carol (2015)
An exquisitely realised adaptation of a groundbreaking novel depicting the love affair between two women in deeply conservative 50s America, illuminated by superb central performances that convey every shadow and nuance of its characters’ inner lives. This is intelligent filmmaking of the most sophisticated yet accessible order. Simply ravishing.

Death in Venice (1971)
Mahler’s music and a career-best performance from Dirk Bogarde as doomed composer Gustav von Aschenbach pursuing a beautiful young man in Venice combine in perfect harmony to make this tale of obsessive love an unforgettable experience.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Beautiful, dream-like and disturbing, this film about the disappearance of a teacher and some schoolgirls in the 1900s Australian outback is saturated with an atmosphere of heightened sensuality and hidden tensions. It seems subtly different every time you watch it, full of tantalising questions and possibilities.

Orlando (1992)
This film is a brilliantly imagined examination of human existence. What does it mean to be born as a woman or a man? To be born at one time instead of another? To be born into wealth or poverty, or into the traditions of a particular society? Visionary filmmaking.

Beautiful Thing (1996)
Last but not least, my guilty pleasure – a delightful, tender coming-of-age drama about two teenage boys from a Thamesmead estate falling in love to an irresistible soundtrack by The Mamas and the Papas. What’s not to love!

Jason Barker, BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival Programmer

Orlando (1992)
I remember this having a profound effect on me when I first saw it. The queering of gender seemed an impossible dream at the time, only something in movies! I’ve come back to it time and time again since and each time found something new that resonates.

Pride (2014)
I watched it at a local multiplex and sobbed from start to finish.

Something Must Break (2014)
Saga Becker is amazing. A film about young love when you are a young trans person and the truest account I have ever seen of that point many of us reach, just before transition, when we are living on a knife edge.

By Hook or by Crook (2001)
It felt like it was made just for me. I still feel so protective of it!

Midnight Cowboy (1969)
I taped it off the telly when I was a teenager and watched it over and over trying to ‘get’ it. I watched it so many times that it feels like part of me.

Weekend (2011)
I put off watching this for a long time, assuming I wouldn’t like it for some reason. Of course I loved it and it’s now my mission in life to watch it with people who also think they won’t like it and see them fall in love too.

52 Tuesdays (2013)
At last, a complex and flawed trans character in a film that shows how across a period of time, each of us is transitioning in some way.

All about My Mother (1999)
Butterfly Kiss (1995)
Farewell My Concubine (1993)

Tom Barrie, Programmer

Milk (2008)
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
Prick Up Your Ears (1987)
Tangerine (2015)
Another Country (1984)
Maurice (1987)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Gods and Monsters (1998)
Pride (2014)

Nikki Baughan, Freelance Film Journalist

Carol (2015)
A stunning, seductive romance in which the lovers are not defined by their sexuality, even as society attempts to punish them for it. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are transcendent, and their chemistry entirely authentic.

Tangerine (2015)
A blistering, visceral, hilarious film featuring two stunning performances from debut actors Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor as warring friends who are defiantly undefined by their transgender identity. They are simply themselves, and they are wonderful.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
It was groundbreaking to see a mainstream film with big name stars approach a gay romance in such an authentic, sensitive manner, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger are both exceptional. Michelle Williams is also superb as the wife left reeling after the discovery of her husband’s true sexuality.

Weekend (2011)
Andrew Haigh’s excellent screenplay, bolstered by two excellent performances by Tom Cullen and Chris New make this a beautiful, brilliant and bracing study of modern relationships that just happens to be about two men. Love it.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix give baruva performances as two gay street hustlers in Van Sant’s blistering early 90’s exploration of the unforgiving American gay scene.

Bound (1996)
Infamous sex scenes aside, the dynamics between con-artist Corky (Gina Gershon) and her lover Violet (Jennifer Tilly) as they scheme to bring down Violet’s ex-boyfriend makes for one of cinema’s greatest relationships.

My Brother the Devil (2012)
Sally El Hosaini’s blistering debut confronts the prejudice and violence faced by a young gay British Arab who is attempting to come to terms with his sexuality.

A Single Man (2009)
Colin Firth’s sensitive portrayal of an English professor unable to cope after the death of his partner in 1960s LA is the centrepiece of this beautiful film which muses on the enduring power of love, whatever our sexuality.

The Kids Are All Right (2010)
The power of Lisa Cholodenko’s film comes from its performances by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a lesbian couple with children, and that its musings on the nature of long-term love are absolutely universal.

She Monkeys (2011)
Swedish filmmaker Lisa Aschan’s intimate, sensitive study of the burgeoning relationship between two adolescent female gymnasts is given extra potency by the fact that their increasing intimacy is undermined by their professional competitiveness.

Choosing just 10 films was such a difficult task! So many worthy films had to be left off the list, including the likes of The Hours, Beautiful Thing, My Beautiful Launderette, Show Me Love, Pariah, Dog Day Afternoon, Pride, Heavenly Creatures, Milk, All about My Mother, Boys Don’t Cry and so many more. All of these films, and their contemporaries, surely prove that LGBT cinema speaks to so many universal truths, and is deserving of a far wider audience.

James Bell, Features Editor, Sight & Sound

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Scorpio Rising (1964)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Edward II (1991)
Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
Victim (1961)
Beau Travail (1999)
Happy Together (1997)

Jay Bernard, BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival Programmer

Portrait of Jason (1967)
Fraught, tense, wonderful. Jason Holliday vs Shirley Clarke one night in the Chelsea Hotel.

Valencia: The Movie/S (2013)
As Autostraddle put it, “Valencia Is The Most Masterful Dyke-Centric Artsy-Weirdo Film I’ve Ever Seen.” Love love love the DIY aesthetic.

Before Night Falls (2000)
Beautiful look at the life of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. Check out Eminent Maricones by Jaime Marquez for a literary take – including a beautiful poem – on what happened after his death.

The Crying Game (1992)
I have only latterly appreciated this movie for what it is. Fascinating intersection of black trans and Irish politics, with a thriller at the centre.

Go Fish (1994)
I don’t care what anyone says, this was an endearing, weird and historically important piece. For added enjoyment, try memorising the judgment scene.

The Watermelon Woman (1996)
Twenty years later, this film is still among the most intelligent and light-hearted takes on blackness, queerness and history.

Tongues Untied (1989)
Its intelligence will break your heart.

Paris Is Burning (1990)
It was full of race and class issues. Bell Hooks weighed in on it. It was a brilliant look into a world that has largely disappeared, and the characters are unforgettable.

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
“The lonely Texas sun was setting low / And in the rearview mirror I watched it go…”

My Brother the Devil (2012)
Nothing like what you’d expect. A thriller with an eye on current affairs that ultimately serves its heart.

John Berra, Academic and Journalist

All about My Mother (1999)
Pedro Almodóvar’s glorious melodrama celebrates the camaraderie of women at times of adversity. Manuela (Cecilia Roth) travels to Barcelona to find her deceased son’s father, only to discover that he is a transsexual in a circle of outcasts.

Enter the Clowns (2002)
A gender-bending debut feature by queer activist Cui Zi’en which explores sexual identity through a series of brazenly transgressive interlocking vignettes which skewer traditional assumptions about Chinese social and familial relationships in fiercely scatological fashion.

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
Toshio Matsumoto reworks the Oedipus myth as a trippy fact/fiction exploration of Tokyo’s underground 1960s scene as Eddie (Shinnosuke Ikehata aka Peter) vies to become the top drag queen at the Genet nightclub in Shinjuku.

Go Fish (1994)
Opposites attract in this sharply funny and naturally sensuous romantic-comedy by Rose Troche which follows the relationship that develops when hip young lesbian Max (Guinevere Turner) is set-up with the frumpy but sweet-natured Ely (VS Brodie).

Happy Together (1997)
Wong Kar-wai turns Argentina into a hyper-saturated space of unfulfilled longing as Hong Kong couple Ho Po-wing (Leslie Cheung) and Lai Yiu-fai (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) go through a series of abusive break-ups and misguided make-ups.

Mala Noche (1986)
Portland convenience clerk Walt (Tim Streeter) shrugs off a language barrier to pursue young Mexican hustler Johnny (Doug Cooeyate) in Gus Van Sant’s melancholic tribute to outsiders seeking affection on the fringes of America’s urban landscape.

Orlando (1992)
A dazzling adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel by Sally Potter, spanning 400 years in the life of the titular character (magnificently portrayed by a luminous Tilda Swinton) whose gender switching gracefully illustrates a myriad of human experiences.

Pariah (2011)
Spike Lee protégé Dee Rees made a rousing debut with this coming-of-age story about 17-year-old African American lesbian Alike (Adepero Oduye) who embraces her identity even when her relationship with her mother (Kim Wayans) becomes increasingly volatile.

Spring Fever (2009)
Nanjing travel agent (Quin Hao) selfishly toys with closeted bookstore owner (Wu Wei) and curious private detective (Chen Sicheng) while Lou Ye’s roving aesthetic conveys a sense of surveillance that pervades even the most private moments.

Tropical Malady (2004)
A factory worker (Sakda Kaewbuadee) is wooed by a solider (Banlop Lomnoi); a forest ranger (also Lomnoi) tracks a mythical tiger (which takes the form of Kaewbuadee). A truly open-minded meditation on the cultural dimensions of courtship from Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Anne Billson, Writer

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Olivia (1951)
Daughters of Darkness (1971)
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Different for Girls (1996)
Show Me Love (1998)
Beau Travail (1999)
Memento Mori (1999)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)

Michael Blyth, Film Programmer, BFI Festivals

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
I could easily have included several Fassbinder films in this list (sorry Fox and Elvira), but I’ll allow myself only one. Everything you need to know about the cruelty of love in two hours. So savage. So perfect.

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
Cher! Karen Black! Sandy Dennis! What more could you ask for? All too often omitted from LGBT film lists, Altman’s film is overflowing with queer pleasures, not least in Black’s smart and sensitive portrayal of a trans woman.

Conversation Piece (1974)
Visconti’s most personal film is in many ways a love letter to Helmut Berger. An opulent study of obsession and decay that keeps getting better with age.

Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press (1984)
This weird and wonderful satire on mass media contains some of the strangest, most arresting images ever committed to celluloid. Queer in every sense of the word. More people need to see Ulrike Ottinger’s work.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Who would have thought Peter Jackson would be the director to bring Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme’s tragic story to the screen? Deeply upsetting, but filled with absolute empathy. Heartbreaking every time.

The Hours (2002)
Always the hours.

Michael (1924)
One of the most significant queer films of the silent age, Dreyer’s then daring depiction of unrequited gay love may be (unsurprisingly) subtle, but it’s heartbreaking nonetheless.

Silverlake Life: The View From Here (1993)
The film that made me cry more than any other.

Velvet Goldmine (1998)
The first time I saw Velvet Goldmine I hated it. The second time I realised it was a masterpiece.

Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000)
Fassbinder by way of Ozon. It doesn’t get much better than that.

It’s always agonising to whittle your faves down to just ten. I’m haunted by all those that fell by the wayside, so, in the spirit of outright cheating, here’s ten more that changed my life in some way or another… Cruising, Female Trouble, Happy Together, Mulholland Dr., A Nightmare on Elm St Part II: Freddy’s Revenge, Nowhere, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Show Me Love, Something Must Break, Super 8½. I could go on, but I shouldn’t.

Jo Botting, Senior Curator of Fiction, BFI National Archive

Myra Breckinridge (1970)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Victim (1961)
Cabaret (1972)
Notes on a Scandal (2006)
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
Show Me Love (1998)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
All about My Mother (1999)

Stephen Bourne, Historian

Victim (1961)
When Victim was released in 1961 it had an enormous impact on the lives of gay men who, for the first time, saw credible representations of themselves in mainstream, commercial cinema. Its star, Dirk Bogarde, said that Victim was the first film to treat gay men seriously.

The L-Shaped Room (1962)
Two for the price of one. Veteran stage and screen star Cicely Courtneidge as an ageing lesbian, and African American Brock Peters as a jazz musician. Two brilliant supporting performances in a mainstream melodrama.

The Family Way (1966)
John Mills at his character acting best as a working-class Northerner who is deeply troubled by the loss of his pal, Billy, to the annoyance of his kind and supportive wife.

A Taste of Honey (1961)
Unsentimental drama of misfits, a resourceful working-class schoolgirl who gets pregnant and sets up home with a shy but equally resourceful gay man. One of the best British films of the ‘kitchen sink’ era.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
With intelligence, sensitivity and honesty, this explores an emotional, bisexual triangle, involving three people in a painful search for love and happiness. Peter Finch’s tour-de-force as the middle-aged gay Doctor is unforgettable.

The Fruit Machine (1988)
Edward II (1991)
Looking for Langston (1989)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Flames of Passion (1989)

BFI Flare should also acknowledge some of the the most influential and ground-breaking BRITISH film books about lesbian and gay cinema that have been published since the 1970s including Gays and Film (edited by Richard Dyer) and Vampires and Violets: Lesbians in the Cinema (Andrea Weiss). These authors should be brought on stage and acknowledged and applauded! My book Brief Encounters: Lesbians and Gays in British Cinema 1930-1971 is being reissued in 2016 by Bloomsbury.

Michael Brooke, Writer and Multimedia Producer

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
I once screened this as part of a mid-90s Russ Meyer retrospective and was amused to see the queue studded with men in raincoats and leather-clad lesbians. I suspect one group got considerably more out of it than the other.

Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Swooningly gorgeous Belgian lesbian vampire film set almost entirely in an off-season Art Deco hotel, presided over by the sublime Delphine Seyrig as the mysterious Countess Báthory. Her resemblance to Marlene Dietrich is as uncoincidental as that of her ‘assistant’ to Louise Brooks.

Score (1972)
This witty comedy of manners is of the great testing-the-water films of the early ‘porno chic’ era, in which a bisexual couple invites an ostensibly straight husband and wife round for what turns out to be a game of same-sex seduction.

Thundercrack! (1975)
A one-of-a-kind cross between an ‘old dark house’ melodrama, a John Waters ensemble piece and a hardcore sex film that draws no distinction between straight and gay coupling, although they did at least stop short of hiring a real gorilla.

The Fourth Man (1983)
A deliciously tongue-in-cheek parody not only of portentously symbol-crammed arthouse cinema but also earnest gay melodramas, as an alcoholic novelist (a fearless Jeroen Krabbé) beset by nightmarish visions gets involved with a woman who may be a witch because he has designs on her other (male) lover.

Blue (1993)
Half a dozen Jarman films could qualify for this list, but nothing else takes you inside his head to the same all-enveloping extent. To be watched in a darkened room with headphones.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Terence Stamp has long shown a commendable willingness to take on sexually challenging roles (Billy Budd, Theorem), but his transgender ‘cock in a frock on a rock’ was easily the most show-stopping, and not just because of the costumes.

Love and Death on Long Island (1997)
I’ve always preferred this to its model, Death in Venice, partly for its dry Gilbert Adair-sourced wit, but mainly for John Hurt’s rumbustiously self-mocking performance as the cobwebby writer unexpectedly smitten with lust for the star of a US teen comedy.

Show Me Love (1998)
It’s outwardly a familiar story of forbidden teenage love in opposition to stiflingly conservative small-town values, but its perspicacity, uncannily naturalistic performances and winning charm lift it onto an altogether higher plane.

All about My Mother (1999)
The ultimate Almodóvar film, fusing a narrative situation that could have come straight out of a Douglas Sirk melodrama with far more turn-of-the-millennium concerns about transvestism, transsexualism, AIDS, prostitution and out-of-the-blue bereavement.

Stuart Brown, Head of Programme and Acquisitions, BFI

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
The Servant (1963)
The Garden (1990)
Tarnation (2003)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Weekend (2011)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
A Single Man (2009)
Bad Education (2004)

Maria Cabrera, Curator

The Watermelon Woman (1996)
Pelo malo (2013)
As a Venezolana, getting to finally see a film that addresses the racism, homophobia and sexism, that are sadly too present in the country, was very important to me. Mariana Rondón so subtly and bitterly intersected these on screen. What particularly touched me was finally seeing Afro-Latinx identity represented, seeing hair that looked like mine and recognising some of these experiences on screen.

Stud Life (2012)
Young Soul Rebels (1991)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Mosquita y Mari (2012)
Daughters of the Dust (1991)
Born in Flames (1983)
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

Topher Campbell, Filmmaker and Former BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival Programmer

Tongues Untied (1989)
Because it embodies so many things: Defiance, Spirit, Resolution, Creative ingenuity, Polemic, Representation, Style, Quintessential Queer.

Kaboom (2010)
If the world was a place where only imagination mattered and money was a no consideration then this is the kind of film we would see more often. Irreverent, picky, fun, silly and serious. This is a film about living life far away from straight responsibilities and expectations. Duh.

Pariah (2011)
If ever there was a queer film that tells it like it is when it comes to finding out our ways to be real, this is it. Simple distilled emotion gets full on treatment in this taught family drama. It shows how much we all want to be free.

Looking for Langston (1989)
The original and best. A film that fuses art cinema with historical narrative. Langston revels in its underground credentials whilst also reminding us that Black is Beautiful. A witness to how we were once outlaws and warriors of desire.

Far from Heaven (2002)
Crafted through a subtle script this period drama more than any demonstrates a world of furtive sexuality and desire like no other. Add to that racial taboo and you get a picture of how far we have come and how far we need to go. Visually and thematically brilliant.

Paris Is Burning (1990)
Glamour, music, bitches and tragedy; and it’s all real. A special film with a legendary pedigree in class of its own. Like a limited edition Gaultier Bra. A story that says more about life and living life to the full than a thousand hollow promises the heterosexual world could offer.

Stud Life (2012)
If British Black Lesbian life means anything to British culture this is the story that sets the tone. Cheaply made with no backing from anyone it shows how a film can move mountains when made with skill, heart and soul. They say our lives mean nothing. Stud Life says otherwise.

Happy Together (1997)
A post-queer film before there was post-queer. This is slim on plot and action but thick with emotion, fluidity and low level drifting. A story of breaking up and coming back which somehow shows passion isn’t just be all and end all but also about just being.

Mala Noche (1986)
Watched over and again you get to understand the depth of desire, taboo and racial fascination in this tale of unrequited ‘love’. It’s an imperfect match as far away from white middle-class gay marriage equality as you can get. Kinda where most of us are or have been. Looks stunning 2.

Portrait of Jason (1967)
Like its subject, Jason Holliday, the existence, both tragic and brave, of civil rights era Black queers is erased from queer cinema and history. This film like no other demonstrates the complexity of intersectionality before the word was invented. Hilarious, fascinating, tour-de-force-performance art that blows the mind.

Ashley Clark, Critic and Programmer

The Crying Game (1992)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Weekend (2011)
Fox and His Friends (1975)
Lilting (2014)
If…. (1968)
Young Soul Rebels (1991)
The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

Robbie Collin, Chief Film Critic, The Telegraph

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Persona (1966)
Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Beau Travail (1999)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Whip It (2009)
Stranger by the Lake (2013)
Carol (2015)

Philip Concannon, Freelance Writer and Programmer

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Far from Heaven (2002)
Fox and His Friends (1975)
Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
The Long Day Closes (1992)
Sebastiane (1976)
Show Me Love (1998)
Theorem (1968)
Tomboy (2011)

Kieron Corless, Deputy Editor, Sight & Sound

The Rose King (1986)
Un chant d’amour (1950)
Tropical Malady (2004)
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Liquid Sky (1982)
Simone Barbès ou la vertu (1980)
Duffer (1971)
LA Plays Itself (1972)
O Fantasma (2000)
Before I Forget (2007)

Mark Cousins, Director and Programmer

Tropical Malady (2004)
Audacious and gentle, the great trans film.

Orlando (1992)
Another inspiring film about mutation.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Unflinching people dancing to Smoke Get in Your Eyes.

The Angelic Conversation (1985)
A breakthrough reverie. Anti-camp and provocative, like a cave painting almost.

I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (2006)
One of the most controlled films I’ve seen. It rolls out before your eyes, and you marvel.

Carol (2015)
Tremulous and understated, the opposite of Douglas Sirk films.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Joy.

Father and Son (2003)
Voyeuristic, loving, chaste, Freudian.

The Bill Douglas Trilogy (1972-78)
It’s as great as Eisenstein. Crisp and somber, but a young man emerges.

Theorem (1968)
Queerness as a crowbar, to force open the cracks in polite society. Funny, too.

Alex Davidson, Writer and Programmer, BFI

Paris Is Burning (1990)
Un chant d’amour (1950)
Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Looking for Langston (1989)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Happy Together (1997)
Relax (1991)
Pink Narcissus (1971)
In a Glass Cage (1986)
Edward II (1991)

Rhidian Davis, BFI Programme Manager

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Criticised in some quarters as a film “for straight women”. Well, I must be very in touch with my inner straight woman. Ten years on this film is still beautiful and devastating.

Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)
Superb central performance by Derek Jacobi. Stunningly inventive cinematography by John Mathieson. This is the brutal, shadowy, vicious, seductive London scene that I arrived into in the 1990s, and this film made me want to work at the BFI.

Flaming Creatures (1963)
Voluptuous vision of the decadent drag cineaste underground by the inimitable Jack Smith.

Beautiful Thing (1996)
Adorable and tender love story portraying a rare optimism about gay relationships, which was long-awaited and something of a game-changer.

Victim (1961)
Hugely brave and historically important portrait of one man’s fight for personal dignity against blackmailers and a system that has criminalised his sexuality. Landmark performance by Dirk Bogarde.

Carol (2015)
Beautiful, moving, with fine performances from Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. Clearly, but sadly not surprisingly under-recognised through the awards season, indicating there’s a still a way to go for LGBT films in the mainstream.

Weekend (2011)
Gay filmmaking comes of age, with a sophisticated, subtle portrait of an ordinary extraordinary encounter.

All about My Mother (1999)
Mature work moving which saw a distinctively queer voice move from the art house to the mainstream.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Deliciously baroque lesbian three-hander, braided with lacerating truths about desire and dominance.

Cabaret (1972)
One of the great star turns by Liza Minnelli lies at the heart of this of the sparklingly dark portrait of bohemian Weimar Berlin, whose furtive bisexual entanglements offer a kind of hope against the looming clouds of fascism.

It’s impossible of course to choose the best LGBT films of all time. How to weight historical significance against more recent developments? How to ensure that a full range of LGBT narratives are properly represented? Inevitably it’s a personal choice, and my list is stretched between purely subjective recollection and some kind of spurious sense of what might have been objectively important. Too many titles missing of course, and my choices are heavily weighted towards films that impacted on me personally, as a British gay man, especially my formative years in the 1990s crossing into young adulthood.

Maria Delgado, Academic and Critic

The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
Passion, politics, advocacy and public life – a film about what it means to want to change the world

Ocaña, an Intermittent Portrait (1978)
A compelling documentary about an artist and visionary who marked the spirit of what was possible in post-Franco Spain

The Law of Desire (1987)
Gorgeous cinema – melodrama, love triangles, high theatrics, refashioned families and the divine Carmen Maura as Tina – feisty, warm, beautiful and gloriously, giddily glam. I also adore Bad Education but today, The Law of Desire won out, just.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Delicate, heartbreaking cinema – a film about everything that remains unsaid.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
One of the best films about the Thatcher era – what it meant, how it shaped contemporary life and how its values might be challenged or reworked.

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Desire, sensuality, claustrophobia and voyeurism all filtered through Jean Genet’s unique sensibility

Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (1998)
A film about love and grief, about how those who are left behind mourn and remember and what it means to journey. I loved it the first time I saw it and still do.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
I love the unadulterated, sensationalist Southern Gothic of Tennessee Williams and here it is realised with glorious panache; a film about what it means to live with lies, deception and fiction.

The Death of Mikel (1984)
Time has forgotten this film but I haven’t. A tale told in flashback of a gay pharmacist involved with ETA who dies in mysterious circumstances. A film about guilt and the dangers of just sitting on a fence when you should take action.

The Holy Girl (2004)
Feminist queer cinema. A film about emergent desire, abuse and a wilful indifference to see what is happening. Martel is simply one of the most stylish, original and uncompromising filmmakers at work today.

So many films I could have chosen, Marco Berger’s Plan B, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío’s Strawberry and Chocolate, Lorenzo Vigas’s recent beguiling From Afar, Mariana Rondón’s Pelo malo, Héctor Babenco’s Pixote. As I write images of Norman René’s Longtime Companion flood into my head; the soundtrack of Jennie Livingston’s Paris Is Burning plays in my ears. The 10 I chose today may not be the 10 I chose tomorrow but they are some of the LGBT films that have stayed with me that I love for their storytelling and stylishness.

Catharine Des Forges, Director, Independent Cinema Office

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Beautiful bobs everywhere. From a great period of German cinema, fabulous.

Victim (1961)
Such a brave and interesting film – Dirk Bogarde was never more handsome.

Calamity Jane (1953)
When I was young this was a film that all the lesbians I knew loved. Quite rightly of course, there’s only one Doris.

The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
I saw this as a teenager in my local art house cinema and found out that films could be political and revolutionary and that independent art house cinemas were amazing places where I wanted to spend my life.

The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (1996)
I just remember this as funny and fresh and lovely. It feels absolutely true in its emotional honesty.

Show Me Love (1998)
Of course. One of the best.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Newman and Taylor are superlative and the tension and simmering sexuality palpable. My favourite Tennessee Williams adaptation.

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Extraordinary and very beautiful.

All about My Mother (1999)
I had to have at least one Almodóvar and this feels like it’s got everything in it although most of all, tremendous humanity.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
I know it’s cheesy but it’s great! And how many great actresses are on screen? So enjoyable.

Jemma Desai, Film Programme Manager, British Council and BFI London Film Festival Strand Advisor

Tomboy (2011)
Tangerine (2015)
Fire (1996)
Set It Off (1996)
Martha (1974)
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)
Stranger Inside (2001)
Ma Vie en Rose (1997)
Borderline (1930)
Weekend (2011)

As a cisgender, straight woman of colour, my choices are best understood as a series of encounters with LGBT cinema, filmmakers and characters that I processed through my own cultural, social and psychological lenses.  

These are all films that made me question my particular internalisations of the distinctions of gender, and gave me a language to explore how the restrictions that my upbringing and identification as a woman continue to impact my interior life.

LGBT cinema gives me life. Here’s to another 30 years of life giving Flare!

Helen Dewitt, Head of Cinemas, BFI

It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1970)
The title says it all. Almost. Need to add ‘she’ and ‘they’ or pronoun of choice.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Pitch perfect.

Lonesome Cowboys (1968)
Supreme satire of American masculinity.

Fireworks (1947) & Fireworks Revisited (1994)
Not cheating to have two titles, but completing the picture.

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
One of the toughest films to watch, and all the more powerful for it.

Carol (2015)
Simply sublime.

Edward II (1991)
Beautiful and brutal timely indictment of homophobia.

Pink Flamingos (1972)
Joyous and mucky.

Un chant d’amour (1950)
No less erotic for its old age.

All about My Mother (1999)
A film of femininity and love of cinema that fills you with so much joy that you cry.

Mar Diestro-Dopido, Film Critic and Researcher, Sight & Sound

My Dearest Senorita (1972)
The Hunger (1983)
The Holy Girl (2004)
Arrebato (1979)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Room in Rome (2010)
The Skin I Live In (2011)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Strawberry and Chocolate (1993)
The Tenant (1976)

Alex Dudok de Wit, Writer

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Farewell My Concubine (1993)
My Summer of Love (2004)
Fire Festival (1984)
Love Is Strange (2014)
Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

Sam Dunn, Head of Video Publishing, BFI

Nighthawks (1978)
Duffer (1971)
Penda’s Fen (1974)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Victim (1961)
Querelle (1982)
Taxi zum Klo (1980)
Compulsion (1959)
Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Singapore Sling (1990)

Anna Dunwoodie, Former BFI Programmer

All Over Me (1997)
Bound (1996)
Carol (2015)
Far from Heaven (2002)
Go Fish (1994)
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Mysterious Skin (2004)
Show Me Love (1998)
Tomboy (2011)

Richard Dyer, Professor Emeritus Film Studies

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Revolutionary spirit borne of intense erotic lesbian attachment and female solidarity.

Loving Couples (1964)
Intertwined stories of women in labour, with heterosexuality coming off badly beside lesbian relationships, and an early affirmation of lesbian parenthood.

Fellini Satyricon (1969)
Polymorphous perversity abounding but centred on both tender eroticism and sexy friendship between men in a stunning vision of ancient Rome that feels like science fiction.

A Man Called Autumn Flower
(1978)
Gay life on the edges of a heritage style movie, with the defiance of drag against all forms of conformity at its heart.

Alexandria… Why? (1979)
Gay life and gay sensibility mixed up, discretely and unequivocally, in an autobiographical film set during the German invasion of Egypt.

Desperate Remedies (1993)
Drenched in gay male sensibility – opera, camp, hunks – but centred on a passionate relationship between women in the early days of white settlement in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

The Watermelon Woman (1996)
Brilliant interrogation of how we can know about those erased from history, be it black or lesbian, done with drive and panache, deconstruction with a typically queer light touch.

Burnt Money (2000)
Seriously sexy gay relationship at the heart of a terrifically exciting genre movie – it can be done.

Weekend (2011)
Something miraculous: a touching brief encounter between men which manages to avoid imposing straight models and to respect the specificity of gay ordinariness.

Carol (2015)
Beyond the peerless chic, Carol catches both the eroticism of unspoken tensions and the surrender to desire and the feeling of inhabiting lesbian desire in an age when there was no widely available language of lesbian desire, the thrill and joy of loving against, and because of, the odds.

David Edgar, Education Programmer, BFI

Show Me Love (1998)
Pain and joy and Robyn.

Theorem (1968)

Taxi zum Klo (1980)
Finally, I found someone tied up in the same knot of emotions, impulses, desires and thoughts as me!

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
A dazzlingly beautiful and horrific object.

Paris Is Burning (1990)
Nowhere (1997)
Tearoom (1962/2007)
Stranger by the Lake (2013)
Poison (1991)
Female Trouble (1974)
The world of the heterosexual is a sick and boring life.

My choices are based on instinct. They are all films that have meant a huge amount to me as I have grown, explored, and discovered.

Victor Fan, Lecturer in Film Studies, King’s College London

Happy Together (1997)
This film is not simply a crystallisation of excellent directing, cinematography, and acting, but also a testimony of the political effect of Hong Kong during the time of its handover from Great Britain and China, mapped onto the painful codependent relationship between the two characters.

Scorpio Rising (1964)
It is simply a film that pumps up one’s blood pressure with its raw sexual energy, unapologetic political ambiguity, corporeality, and audiovisual excitements. No one could walk out of this film without some level of life transformation.

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
What turned out to be Pasolini’s final film is a solemn critique of human nature and the unconscious desire and anxiety that underlie ‘politics’. The disturbing fact is that as viewers, we are all imbricated by the sexual and political sadomasochism it so unabashedly puts on display.

Summer Vacation 1999 (1988)
It is an unforgettable and sensorially shocking film about four schoolboys entangled with a romantic yet borderline sadomasochistic relationship and power struggle in a boarding school in 1999. The chilliness of the story, however, is conveyed in an absolutely beautiful, tranquil, and lyrical manner.

Blue (1993)
Blue is a sensorial testimony of what it meant by ‘living with AIDS’ between the 1980s and 1990s. Composed of an elaborate soundtrack over a blue screen, which simulates the remaining vision of Derek Jarman during his illness, the film meditatively yet stubbornly reflects upon the violence of Thatcherism.

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Jean Genet’s short film is a visualisation and sensorialisation of his literary works and his obsession with prison, military men, and the working class. The grittiness of his black-and-white image conveys the excitement the ennui of the prisoners trapped with the cells of their own desire and social surveillance.

In a Year of 13 Moons (1978)
Juliane Lorenz, the editor who often worked with Fassbinder, once told me the director compared this film to an act of a man offering his sexual organ.

Blow Job (1964)
Nothing is more erotically charged and uncanny when the face of a young man enjoying a blow job, his youth, his desire, and his pleasure are carefully captured by the camera, and when the projector allows this image of the past to relive over and over again.

Two Stage Sisters (1964)
When this revolutionary film about the relationship of two stage sisters came out in China in the 1980s, most viewers were deeply touched not by the revolutionary message, but by their same-sex intimacy and romanticism. In the 2000s, Xie Jin finally confirmed that the film is indeed about same-sex affection.

The Hole (1998)
Loneliness and the longing for intimacy outside of a social norm has never been so sensually conveyed in this masterpiece of slow cinema, and of course, its celebration of the popular show tunes by 1950s Hong Kong Mandarin movie start Grace Chang (Ge Lan) is spectacular (and campy!)

Lizzie Francke, Development and Production Executive, BFI

Orlando (1992)
Poison (1991)
Looking for Langston (1989)
Transparent (2014–)
It’s TV, but its significance and politics are profound.

Tangerine (2015)
Sebastiane (1976)
Fox and His Friends (1975)
Pride (2014)
Boys Keep Swinging (David Bowie video) (1979)
A music promo – but subversive style. Bowie contributed to the changes… and I want to acknowledge that.

Blue (1993)

Rosalind Galt, Professor of Film Studies and Karl Schoonover, Reader in Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick

Dakan (1997)
Fish and Elephant (2001)
Happy Together (1997)
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (2006)
Tropical Malady (2004)
and
Carol (2015) (chosen by Rosalind Galt)
Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) (chosen by Rosalind Galt)
Futuro Beach (2014) (chosen by Rosalind Galt)
Madame X: An Absolute Ruler (1978) (chosen by Rosalind Galt)
Proteus (2003) (chosen by Rosalind Galt)
The Iron Ladies (2000) (chosen by Karl Schoonover)
Je, tu, il, elle (1974) (chosen by Karl Schoonover)
Looking for Langston (1989) (chosen by Karl Schoonover)
Memento Mori (1999) (chosen by Karl Schoonover)
Stranger by the Lake (2013) (chosen by Karl Schoonover)

Patrick Gamble, Freelance Writer

The Crying Game (1992)
Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game combines issues of gender, race and nationalism to construct a thrilling psychological drama that, although not ultimately interested in politics, uses transgender identity to challenge the binary simplification of the Troubles in the media.

The Haunting (1963)
In The Haunting we never see the ghost, yet like many supernatural horrors we’re shown heterosexuality as an institution of terror for women. Wise’s film isn’t about lesbianism, and no lesbian sexuality is ever ‘seen’, yet Eleanor’s paranoia is increasingly shown as a defence of homosexuality.

East Palace, West Palace (1996)
Named after the parks flanking the Forbidden City, a popular cruising grounds for Beijing’s gay men, East Palace, West Palace was the first Chinese film to deal with homosexual themes. The film even led to 6th generation director Zhang temporarily being deprived of his passport.

Beautiful Thing (1996)
Hettie McDonald’s 1996 comedy drama, set on the infamous Thamesmead estate in South London, is just one story, amongst hundreds of others. The film’s outward looking narrative elegantly explores the intersection of homosexuality and class via the blossoming relationship between two teenage boys.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Fassbinder imbues his lesbian characters with an intimate struggle for dominance, all contained within the small world of an apartment. A study of unhappiness and un-fulfilment, the film’s theme of sexual power is universal, allowing the audience, regardless of their own sexual persuasion, to invest wholly in Fassbinder’s characters.

Law of Desire (1987)
Almodóvar’s first explicitly gay film is an energetic mix of farce and melodrama about a film director (Eusebio Poncela) and an obsessed fan (Antonio Banderas). Carmen Maura also stars as a struggling actor who used to be a boy. This is Almodóvar at his most energetic and playful.

Tangerine (2015)
An unorthodox Christmas movie, Sean Baker’s raucous comedy about two transgender prostitutes is as notable for its representation of the trans world as it’s technical accomplishments. This iPhone-shot movie confirms Baker’s position as one of American cinema’s most sympathetic chroniclers of marginalised lives.

I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (2006)
Tsai Ming-liang is a perpetual voice for the marginal, looking into liminal spaces in a quest for the truth. Gay characters have appeared throughout the director’s work; sadly I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone remains one of the few of his films available to UK viewers.  

Paris Is Burning (1990)
Jennie Livingstone’s cult documentary about New York’s gay black and Latino drag queens blurs the lines of identity, and attempts to reconfigure such abstract notions of beauty and reality in a film about the search for personal wholeness.  

Fish and Elephant (2001)
Fish and Elephant is the first ever Chinese film to deal with female homosexuality. Shot on 16mm, Li’s film focuses on the Beijing landscape to delicately connect her characters to their environment and their ability to be open about their sexuality.

Charles Gant, Film Editor, Heat Magazine

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Happy Together (1997)
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Silverlake Life: The View from Here (1993)
Eastern Boys (2013)
Beautiful Thing (1996)
Weekend (2011)

Totally gutted that I couldn’t include Mysterious Skin, L.I.E., Boys Don’t Cry, Before Night Falls, Stranger By The Lake, I Killed My Mother, Tomboy, Pride, My Own Private Idaho and probably a lot more that I love.

Jane Giles, Head of Content, BFI

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Thundercrack! (1975)
Querelle (1982)
Pink Flamingos (1972)
Hustler White (1996)
Law of Desire (1987)
Pink Narcissus (1971)
Cruising (1980)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Blow Job (1964)

Carmen Gray, Film Critic and Programmer – Berlin Critics’ Week

Paris Is Burning (1990)
This landmark indie doc captures the vibrant New York drag ball culture of the 80s, showing how its adherents created surrogate families to belong in and transformed the aspirational doctrine of a mainstream that shut them out.

What Now? Remind Me (2013)
Nakedly honest and profoundly human with a reflective melancholy that’s never self-indulgent, this chronicle of a year in the director’s life trialling HIV drugs film stretches far into world history with spiritual, existence-affirming scope.

Stranger by the Lake (2013)
This French arthouse thriller set in a cruising spot is one of the most daringly original and frank takes on the psychology of desire and risk out there.

Hustler White (1996)
A champion in the fight against bourgeois hypocrisy, Bruce LaBruce shows up the ruse of ‘normality’ in this riotous comedy which is as fun as it is potently subversive. His role as Juergen Anger, a writer researching a book on gay hustlers in California, is iconic.

Mala Noche (1986)
Low-budget and rawly affecting, Gus Van Sant’s melancholy debut of aimless drifters and unrequited love is the essence of the real American indie burning bright. It astutely blends power hierarchies of race and economics into thwarted channels of desire.

All about My Mother (1999)
A vibrantly buoyant, complex weave of melodrama, dedicated by Pedro Almodóvar: “To all actresses who have played actresses. To all women who act. To men who act and become women. To all the people who want to be mothers. To my mother.” Need we say more?

Blow Job (1964)
The viewer brings all kinds of cultural baggage and assumptions to what is and isn’t seen in this classic by America’s true master of playful provocation, as he challenges us to read and re-read the on-screen situation.

Tomboy (2011)
Beautifully understated and ambiguous, this quiet, gentle film about a ten-year-old grappling with uncertainties of gender identity is pitch-perfect and deeply affecting.

Carol (2015)
This gorgeously nuanced, sensuous and melancholy romance comes from an endlessly inventive director who has constantly dared new ways to connect us with richly complex outsiders.

Pink Flamingos (1972)
The characters, hellbent on winning the title of ‘Filthiest People Alive’, free us from the hypocritical straitjacket of social propriety like true champions in this utter black comedy classic from the bad taste king, starring the immortal Divine.

Simran Hans, Freelance Writer and Film Programmer, Bechdel Test Fest

[Safe] (1994)
Pariah (2011)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Tongues Untied (1989)

My choices aren’t a comprehensive reflection of LGBTQ cinema’s rich history. Rather, they represent a selection of anchors and turnings points in my own queer cinema education. While I can’t claim to be an expert, these films taught me that queer cinema is not a genre, but a mode, and a way of seeing the world.

Briony Hanson, Director of Film, British Council and Former London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival Programmer

Regarde la mer (1997)
I could have chosen pretty much any Ozon film but I choose this one simply because it was such a shocker. So transgressive, so stylish, so full of foreboding, so very different – and announced Ozon as a class act, a position he has occupied for the subsequent 15 years.

All Over Me (1997)
With riot grrrl credentials and a soundtrack to match, this was the film that I chose to open the very first LLGFF I programmed. I loved it then, I love it now.

Carol (2015)
For those who feel Todd Haynes is our greatest director, it was either going to be this or Far From Heaven, but this just has the edge on the strength of its screenplay (beautifully adapting a book I’ve loved deeply for 20 years) – and its entirely perfect final shot.

Weekend (2011)
So surprising – a raggedy one night stand that suddenly takes on real meaning – this is just simply a beautiful piece. Dirty, sexy, truthful, engaging, emotional. Everything queer cinema should be and more.

Go Fish (1994)
No ‘LGBT Best of’ list should exist without it – took dyke cinema by the scruff of its cutesy cloying soft-focused neck and gave us a bunch of real recognisable dykes, a huge sense of humour, and a guerilla aesthetic that spawned a generation to follow.

High Art (1998)
Ally Sheedy and Patricia Clarkson on the same screen would have been enough for me but add in a sharp script, some beautiful visuals, and a super sexy vibe and this became something else altogether.

Happy Together (1997)
Wong Kar-wai’s almost unbearably emotional portrait of a doomed relationship. Breathtaking, beautiful, with a bewitching pairing of Tony Leung and Lesley Cheung – and perfectly wrapped up in a haunting Astor Piazzolla tango soundtrack. Melancholy never felt so good.

Tangerine (2015)
A breath of fresh air and one that weirdly served to remind me of some of the best of ‘old’ queer cinema, following a working girl on a mission to find her man. LA never looked lovelier; I never smiled so wide.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
At the risk of picking one too many films about lesbians directed by men. this couldn’t have been bettered for me no matter who was behind the lens. Fuelled by an extraordinary lead pair and a raw sex scene, it deserved all the glory – and notoriety – it got.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Some movies become beloved in their own right and some are jet powered by an extraordinary viewing experience; this was Hedwig for me, my first viewing amid an hysterical mob in San Francisco’s legendary Castro Theatre. Mass adoration started there and for me has never left. ‘I put on some makeup…’

Theresa Heath, Producer, Wotever DIY Film Festival

The Watermelon Woman (1996)
The first feature film to put black, lesbian desire and subjectivity on the screen. Also: Guinevere Turner and Cheryl Dunye getting it on – what’s not to love?

Go Fish (1994)
The first feature film to deal with lesbian lives, sex and desire. Formally experimental but with a really light touch and often hilarious. One of the first films where you could chat afterwards about which one you fancied (a given for hetero audiences…)

Stud Life (2012)
Black queer identities continue to be under-represented in mainstream, narrative film. Stud Life tackles this head on, as well as dealing with issues of butch-femme relationships, sex work and class. It’s also sexy and fun.

Born in Flames (1983)
Gutsy, radical, experimental and with a killer soundtrack, this 1983 classic imagines life after the socialist revolution — and it’s not as rosy as you might think.

Stories of Our Lives (2014)
So much love for this film. Like everyone else, I was utterly blown away by it at BFI Flare 2015 and it became our opening night film. Beautifully shot and directed on a miniscule budget with superb acting and so much heart. Wow.

Dyke Hard (2014)
Very rare that I’ve laughed so hard at a queer film. Dyke Hard manages the elusive feat of carrying a radical, intersectional message whilst also being one of the funniest, silliest and most enjoyable things I’ve ever seen.

Dyketactics (1974)
Beautiful lesbian bodies having sex in nature. A celebration of dyke sexuality at a time when stereotypes were deeply negative and widely held. Utterly wonderful.

Virgin Machine (1988)
Weird and truly wonderful – a young German lesbian heads to San Francisco where she discovers her queer community. Inspiring, quirky and loveable.

Paris Was a Woman (1996)
Fantastic documentary from Greta Schiller exploring lesbian life in the Paris demi-monde. Makes me want to move to Paris, open a bookshop and wear a monocle.

Cool Hands, Warm Heart (1979)
A coruscating look at the rituals – or violence – women do to their bodies in the name of beauty. Set on the city streets, it unflinchingly depicts the ridiculousness of these rituals, yet ends on a positive and warming note.

Would be so great to see some of these lesser-known or female/trans directed films on the list. Films by queer women and trans people continue to be hugely under-funded compared to those by gay men, and as a result are often far more difficult to get hold of. This doesn’t make them any less valid, and they often do the incredibly important work of making the most marginalised in our community feel a little less invisible.

It’s also important that films about the queer community are made by the queer community – I’m sick to death of male-directed films about lesbians like Blue is the Warmest Colour being granted huge budgets when you know that lesbian directors never get that kind of backing. The Kids Are All Right is probably the only exception to this rule.  

Anyway, I could think of about 10 more to add to this list, and am also aware there’s not that much non-Western content on here, but at the same time its encouraging that there are so many great LGBT films to choose from, even if the ones I most admire are not always widely available.

Joanna Hogg, Filmmaker and Curator

Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
The Comedian (1993)
Nighthawks (1978)
Weekend (2011)
High Art (1998)
Bad Education (2004)
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Vive L’Amour (1994)

Pamela Hutchinson, Journalist

Michael (1924)
Pandora’s Box (1929)
Cabaret (1972)
Orlando (1992)
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
I Don’t Want to be a Man (1918)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Carol (2015)

I tried to avoid the traps of titillation and tragedy – I wanted to choose joyful, romantic films. I didn’t entirely succeed… ask me again and I might have a beautiful list. Perhaps I was just too angry about Carol not getting nominated for that best picture Oscar. Probably I just haven’t seen enough LGBT movies, and I should do something about that. These are all passionate movies, with unforgettable characters, which is something for now.

Clarissa Jacob, Writer and Researcher, The Women and Film Project

Orlando (1992)
A visually mind-blowing film based on an equally mind-blowing book. Tilda Swinton is incredible as the gender-shifting, time travelling Orlando.

Born in Flames (1983)
A feminist sci-fi film set in a US socialist dystopia that features a gang of women on bikes fighting street harassment and feminist pirate radio stations – what’s not to like? A seriously cool film with a great soundtrack.

Gay Power (2007/2012)
Hayes uses footage of the 1971 Gay Liberation March in New York, originally filmed by Kate Millett and her friends, who also provides an audio commentary. A moving and inspiring portrait of a movement in its younger days.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
One of cinema’s most heart-breaking and beautiful love stories, set against a rugged and breathtaking landscape. Plus Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in cowboy hats.

Lesbiana: A Parallel Revolution (2012)
This fascinating documentary charts the lesbian feminist movement in the US and Canada and features a ton of footage from the 1970s and 80s. A moving testament to the many activists and writers who campaigned for gay rights but also helped build alternative feminist communities for women.

Dyketactics (1974)
A pioneering film by a pioneering filmmaker, Hammer’s Dyketactics was one of the first to explicitly depict lesbian desire and identity. Sensual, psychedelic and fun but also groundbreaking.

Kustom Kar Kommandos (1970)
Check out that hot rod! Anger’s short is hilarious, visually sumptuous and the opposite of subtle.

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
An important discovery for 1970s feminists looking for female forbearers of queer cinema.

Cruel Intentions (1999)
Sure, there’s that kiss between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair, but perhaps more intriguing is Dawson’s Creek pin-up Joshua Jackson as the weed-dealing, bleach-blonde Blaine who beds high-school jocks.

Juliet Jacques, Writer

Different from the Others (1919)
The first important landmark of LGBTQI cinema – not least because sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld co-wrote the scenario. One of the few contemporary film records of the queer undercurrents that ran through Weimar culture.

Salomé (1923)
Alla Nazimova’s surreal, sublime adaptation of Wilde (and Aubrey Beardsley). Beautiful and boring, indulgent and inspirational, it was rumoured that everyone in its cast was queer.

Flaming Creatures (1963)
The most brilliant and bold of the New American Cinema’s queer films, included partly because Susan Sontag’s writing on it is so wonderful.

Women in Revolt (1971)
The Factory superstars Jackie Curtis, Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn in their full glory. A fascinating reminder of the tensions in 1960s/1970s feminist and LGBTQI politics.

City of Lost Souls (1983)
How is this film not better known? It deal with race and immigration, communism and capitalism, sexuality and gender identity in an irreverent, hilarious and hard-hitting way, with so many memorable characters and some great songs.

Beautiful People (1988)
Pure aesthetic.

Bilokacija (1990)
Cross-dressing and queerness feature here as part of a colourful, oblique, feminist commentary on the imminent collapse of Yugoslavia and the civil war in Kosovo. Just 12 minutes long, but every time I watch it, I see something new.

All about My Mother (1999)
My favourite of Almodóvar’s films, and one of the most sensitive works about transsexual and transgender living ever made.

Wild Side (2004)
Sébastien Lifshitz’s decision to cast trans actor Stéphanie Michelini in the lead role gives this film an unfussy, warm authenticity that other works of its time could never achieve. Its calmness and kindness earn it a place in this list.

XXY (2007)
Lucía Puenzo uses an intersex character to explore the complexities of puberty, but does so without making its protagonist anything less than human.

I could have included several of Rosa von Praunheim’s films – it baffles me that his work isn’t better known, being far more relevant now than most other queer films from the 1970s or 1980s. I wish I’d had room for Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s The Adventure of Iron Pussy, Strawberry and Chocolate by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, one of Maria Beatty’s fetish films, Lonely at the Top (with Lucy McEvil) and maybe Le Sang d’un Poète by Jean Cocteau, or even The Image by Radley Metzger, but you can’t have everything.

Nazmia Jamal, Teacher and Former London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival Programmer

By Hook or by Crook (2001)
Romantic, sexy, funny and heartbreaking. I love everything about this film – the script, the performances, the cast, the lighting… community-funded queer art brilliance.

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
I owned this film on VHS and watched it with my friends so many times we broke the tape. Everything about this film is wonderful but especially Clea Duvall — in a black shirt, throwing her cigarette to the floor, so she can dance at the Cocksucker.

Fire (1996)
This film changed my life.

A Place of Rage (1991)
Essential viewing. Pratibha Parmar’s gift to all Black feminists who need to know they’ve come from something.

When We Are Together We Can be Everywhere (2015)
Love letter. Artistic statement. Political porn. Clever and sexy as hell – much like the director.

Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Every frame is breathtakingly beautiful. Possibly the earliest lesbian sex scene in cinema.

My Brother the Devil (2012)
British. Muslim. Gay. So smart and so moving.

My Prairie Home (2013)
Rae Spoon – a legend and a genius. The soundtrack is as extraordinary as their story.

Pride (2014)
I’m a massive gay, proud trade union member and I grew in the Valleys during the 1980s. Obviously I love this film and wept from start to finish.

Pariah (2011)
Both the original short and the feature are so strong and so important.

Nick James, Editor, Sight & Sound

Gilda (1946)
The ruthless but helpless love/hate triangle in Gilda, all that enjoyable symbolism and seething lust, made it a key film at the heart of my 80s obsession with noir.

The Servant (1963)
The twin poles of masculinity for me when younger were Robert Mitchum and Dirk Bogarde, the latter being the decadent art school element. Since The Servant is a better film than any of the Visconti Bogardes, it stands for much.   

All about My Mother (1999)
Is this the best film of Almodóvar’s golden run? The most controlled, certainly, and yet sweeping in its emotional switchback. I’ll take it over Talk to Her… just.

Beau Travail (1999)
Military men with muscles in the desert would, in real life, be my idea of hell (honest), but Denis’ phenomenal image-making and her absorption of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd achieve a magnificence all her own.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
For me one of the truest depictions of young love and lust I’ve seen in recent years, despite the controversy that dogged it after it won the Palme d’Or, and the destructive relationships that produced it.

Looking for Langston (1989)
One of the most lustrous and rapturous pieces of filmmaking the UK produced in the 80s, just edging out My Beautiful Laundrette and standing also for the tradition that comes from Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks.

Savage Nights (1992)
A powerfully raw and inventive film about bisexuality and HIV that I saw not long after losing friends to AIDS-related illness. Cyril Collard himself died in 1993 of the same cause.

Farewell My Concubine (1993)
Another love triangle, this time in historical epic form, one of my first entry points into fifth generation Chinese cinema, exquisite and overwhelming.

Calamity Jane (1953)
I had to have a musical on this list and the ultimate ‘tomboy’ western fits the bill. Great songs, singers and costumes, beloved in my family, especially by my daughter.

Theorem (1968)
A pure parable of a beautiful stranger who arrives from nowhere, seduces an entire wealthy family one by one and then leaves, with Terence Stamp’s enigmatically smouldering blue eyes to the fore. Pasolini later turned it into a novel.

The films above are not a considered list of the artistic best but are those most tethered to personal affiliations to ‘queer’ cinema (as it was known during the era covering many of the films). I was at art school at a time when camp extravagance was much admired, but my tastes are different now, so there may be some tension in this choice between theatrical gesture and restraint. Sadly, I did not find room for a Derek Jarman because I found it hard to choose one to represent all. Films like Rope, Poison, Bound, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Brokeback Mountain, Water Lilies, Tropical malady and Stranger by the Lake could all have found their place here.

David Jenkins, Editor, Little White Lies

Calamity Jane (1953)
Beau Travail (1999)
In a Year of 13 Moons (1978)
Flaming Creatures (1963)
Carol (2015)
Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Michael (1924)
I Don’t Want to be a Man (1918)
Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)

Nyree Jillings, Festivals Marketing Manager, BFI

Show Me Love (1998)
Beautiful Thing has peppermint foot lotion. Show Me Love has chocolate milk. Lukas Moodysson’s debut is a truly sublime and touching story of star-crossed teen-girl lovers clearly destined to go nowhere together but oblivious in their delight at discovering each other.

Stranger by the Lake (2013)
A sexy, sophisticated, almost flawless thriller that expertly uses the setting, mood and characters of a cruising ground to deliver its broody menace.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Possibly controversial, and, yes, the famously-protracted sex scene ceases to serve the narrative long before it comes to a close, but as a film that observes, relates and conveys the cycle of a loving lesbian relationship with such immense power and realism it’s one of the best.

We Were Here (2011)
Superb documentary filmmaking that simply and powerfully conveys ‘what it was like’ to live through the AIDS epidemic in the 80s by focusing on a small number of diverse contributors and their personal stories. Rich, poignant and revelatory.

Carol (2015)
I hate the term ‘instant classic’ but I can’t think of a better way of describing Todd Haynes’ visually stunning, compelling lesbian love story – with a happy ending.

The Duke of Burgundy (2014)
A visually sumptuous, exclusively female world, butterflies, an older-younger SM relationship and the line, “all I ever wanted was to be used by you”. Top 10. Nailed on.

Beauty (2011)
This tale of a middle aged, closeted, successful Afrikaans businessman who becomes obsessed with the son of an acquaintance is a far from positive depiction of gay life but an exceptionally well realised examination of the complexities of sexual desire versus social, racial, political and generational conventions.

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
Deserves its place as a bit of late 90s light relief, and close to the heart of a entire queer generation.

Victor/Victoria (1982)
Aware that my choices come from the past 20 years (heck, there’s just more and better), I wanted at least one from a more ‘suggestive’ time. Victor/Victoria is in for being so wonderfully camp, and including the pre-kiss line: “I don’t care if you ARE a man”. Early genderqueer.

Mosquita y Mari (2012)
A gorgeously compact story of two very different inner-city Latina schoolgirls that are flung together through circumstance – and grow to like each other very much indeed. Perfectly encapsulates the sweet tensions of budding romantic feelings and unspoken, half-recognised desires.

Justin Johnson, Programme Advisor, BFI

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Beautiful Thing (1996)
The Children’s Hour (1961)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Orlando (1992)
Prick Up Your Ears (1987)
Mysterious Skin (2004)
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
Tomboy (2011)

Trevor Johnston, Film Critic

Cabaret (1972)
Fosse’s landmark conveys the liberating intoxication of polymorphous sexuality, but also the horror of those who’d seek to crush such freedoms.

Desert Hearts (1985)
Few films convey as well as this one the libidinal and emotional rush of discovering who you really are.

Edward II (1991)
Derek Jarman went back into royal history to deliver a cautionary tale for a time when gay rights seemed under attack – a film rooted in its own time, but whose rebellious spirit and stylistic fervour continue to inspire.

Ma Vie en Rose (1997)
Years ahead of its time in terms of the issues it raises, Alain Berliner’s ground-breaking film remains potent for its emotional and stylistic investment in the innocent certainty of a child who just knows he’s really a she.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Still marvellous for the mischief-making zeal with which it barrelled though the social and sexual divisions of Thatcher’s Britain.

Orlando (1992)
Neither gender boundaries nor time itself stand in the way of the iconic Tilda.

Parting Glances (1986)
Worth remembering that one of the definitive gay indie films hails from a moment when there was little identifiably gay cinema and the indie sector basically didn’t exist.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Heart-rending and utterly humane, this celluloid milestone makes the point that whoever and however you love, there may be pain ahead…

Weekend (2011)
An utterly convincing slice of life, delivering the key insight that in sexually liberated times the real challenges are intimacy and commitment.

Carol (2015)
In which Todd Haynes and his marvellous cast gift us a with a gay love story that’s just as much a classic as the golden-age Hollywood studio melodramas he evidently adores.

Matimba Kabalika, NET.WORK Talent Co-ordinator and Content Editor, BFI

Paris Is Burning (1990)
I watched this film during university, I can’t remember what module it was for. I do remember being utterly moved, mesmerised and transfixed by all the amazing characters and the incredible sense of community.

Tangerine (2015)
What is there not to love about this film? The energy, the soundtrack, the comedy, the heart.

The Kids Are All Right (2010)
I loved that this film focused on a family, it’s so wonderful and rare to see rounded representations of the LGBT experience.

Diana (2009)
This film made my top 10 because of its quiet beauty that draws parallels between a Princess and a pre-op trans prostitute. It was also my first time seeing Aleem Khan’s work and put him on my radar as one to watch.

Pariah (2011)
To see a young, intelligent, woman of colour dealing with her sexuality and in such an honest way was so utterly refreshing. Adepero Oduye’s performance was so full of nuance, and emotional intelligence which I found so moving.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
I don’t remember in detail the plot of this film, I watched it at a very young age, and so it was my first time seeing LGBT characters on screen. I remember being completely captivated.

Lilting (2014)
I loved this film so much, Hong Khaou manages to balance love, loss, grief, and the art of the unspoken in such a beautiful way.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Like BFI Flare, this film is 30 years old and is a classic. In 1985 it was daring, risky, and enabled new stories to be told. A reminder that we should never stop taking risks when it comes to bringing a diversity of stories to the big screen.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Weekend (2011)
Andrew Haigh is the master of bringing out the outstanding in seemingly ordinary moments, and never is that more evident than in the beautifully understated Weekend.

Alex Karotsch, Festival Director, Fringe! Queer Film and Arts Fest

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971)
Shortbus (2006)
Tangerine (2015)
Weekend (2011)
We Were Here (2011)
Tongues Untied (1989)
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
All Over Me (1997)

Lisa Kerrigan, Television Curator, BFI

All about My Mother (1999)
The Angelic Conversation (1985)
Female Trouble (1974)
Looking for Langston (1989)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Portrait of Jason (1967)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Shinjuku Boys (1995)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Victim (1961)

It was difficult not to be able to include pioneering TV work here, but this is a film list after all. I’ve gone for a variety of personal favourites and, for me, there’s enough beauty, fun and heartbreak here for a lifetime.

James Kleinmann, Film Critic, Gaydio, BBC Radio 2

Carol (2015)
Cruising (1980)
Happy Together (1997)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Fox and His Friends (1975)
Laurence Anyways (2012)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Poison (1991)
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Nighthawks (1978)

Georgia Korossi, Freelance Critic and Curator researching documentary cinema and art

Strella: A Woman’s Way (2009)
Strella is a gentle, passionate modern story set in the heart of Athens. Award-winning young trans woman Strella (Mina Orfanou) meets Yiorgos (Yiannis Kokiasmenos) on the night of his release following 14 years in jail. Their love story begins, but along the way life’s surprises prevail.

All about My Mother (1999)
One of the finest films by Almodóvar, the Oscar-winning All about My Mother centres two transvestite hookers, a pregnant nun and two hot-tempered lesbians. Sincere and heartfelt, it beautifully illustrates family journeys and features an exceptional performance by Cecilia Roth.

Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn (2014)
Ethan Reid’s mind-blowing portrait of artist Peter de Rome (1924-2014), who took great risks through his career. His films were the early examples of artistic erotic gay filmmaking, and without great resources and a studio he managed to create a monumental body of work.

Paris Is Burning (1990)
A bold visual document of dance and vogue, I remember seeing Jennie Livingston’s film on my first year at university and blowing my mind. A group of queer people gather together to hold competitions in balls and clubs: Paris Is Burning documents their creativity.

The Terence Davies Trilogy (1976-83)
Terence Davies deconstructs moments from his memory to reconstruct his troubled childhood in his early cinematic poems, the three medium-length films comprising Children (1976), Madonna and Child (1980) and Death and Transfiguration (1983). They chart violence, homosexuality and a daring to be different.

Teem (2007)
A serene, erotically charged portrait, Teem is Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s poetic response to love. For three consecutive days he filmed his boyfriend on his mobile phone as he woke from sleep. Weerasethakul captures the dreamy morning light, which is at peace with the stillness of his loved one waking up.

Gayby Baby (2015)
Maya Newell’s powerful documentary illustrates the lives of three 12 year-olds with same-sex parents. Gayby Baby demonstrates that these kids live utterly normal lives, facing everyday difficulties and supported by loving parents. But they are fully aware that their families are viewed as different, and the film raises some timely questions.

The Duke of Burgundy (2014)
Peter Strickland’s third feature is an adventure in sound and dark humour, told through the intimate relationship of two women. Its surreal cinematography and telescopic imagery bursts into your imagination to hypnotic effect.

Milk (2008)
Gus Van Sant’s heartfelt film about Harvey Milk, who in 1977, became the first openly gay man elected to public office in US. Sean Penn gives a powerful performance.

Gammelion (1967)
Gregory Markopoulos was, alongside Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage and Maya Deren, a pioneer of the New American Cinema of the 1960s. Filmed at Il Castello Roccasinibalda in Rieti, Italy, Gammelion is a major work in his oeuvre, marking the transition into his late period and anticipating his epic, Eniaios 1947–91.

These films are not in any particular order. They have all influenced my understanding of independent film history.

Ann Lee, Film Journalist

Weekend (2011)
Happy Together (1997)
Appropriate Behaviour (2014)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Farewell My Concubine (1993)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
All about My Mother (1999)
Tangerine (2015)

Guy Lodge, Film Critic, Variety

Beau Travail (1999)
Weekend (2011)
Carol (2015)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Cabaret (1972)
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Before Night Falls (2000)
Beauty (2011)

Sarah Lutton, Film Programming and Research Consultant

Beau Travail (1999)
Carol (2015)
Caravaggio (1985)
Le Sang d’un Poète (1932)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Wild Side (2004)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences, BFI

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
An absolute epic. Brokeback used arguably the most classic of all American genres to tell its story and break our hearts.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
This is first love at its most naive, explosive and passionate. The UK trailer is one of the best ever.

Beautiful Thing (1996)
This was such an important film for my generation. A vibrant, tender love story with a killer soundtrack.

Magic Mike (2012)
This film was a party and everyone was invited. I’m sure the bus campaign caused numerous car crashes.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
I’ll never forget when Mike from Neighbours went camping in the outback.

Tangerine (2015)
Tangerine is full of drama, donuts and pathos, but is also the best LA Christmas film since Die Hard,

Weekend (2011)
Such a quietly moving film that announced the arrival of a major UK talent in Andrew Haigh.

All about My Mother (1999)
A goliath of cinema. Almodóvar cemented his place as one of the most important directors in the world with this film.

Strangers on a Train (1951)
Hitch is no fool, he knew what he was doing with this story of two strangers on a train, meeting and liking what they see…

Point Break (1991)
Perhaps Bodhi and Johnny Utah were more than just bro’s.

Daniel Martin, Journalist

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Because no list is truly complete without an androgynous glam rock musical number front and centre.

Beautiful Thing (1996)
One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever come across; cliché tend to become clichés because they’re true.

Weekend (2011)
Because sex scenes are very easy, but truly capturing intimacy is very difficult indeed and Andrew Haigh performs witchcraft on that subject.

The Crying Game (1992)
Powerful and important and serious words like that.

Milk (2008)
Because sometimes the Oscars actually do get it right, like with Sean Penn.

The Opposite of Sex (1998)
Because Christina Ricci is still about the only woman I would turn for.

Pride (2014)
There have been few movies as big-hearted in the entire history of cinema.

Gods and Monsters (1998)
This one just stuck with me. Also, shirtless Brendan Fraser.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Because in all ways, the early 90s is my happy place, but even more so when River Phoenix is involved.

A Single Man (2009)
Fashion designers making torturously arty movies shouldn’t work so its the strength of all the performances that makes this the exception that proves the rule. Also, the colour filters.

Sophie Mayer, Writer

Orlando (1992)
“Same person. No difference at all… Just a different sex.” As Orlando, Tilda Swinton brought the queer counterculture of Derek Jarman’s cinema to the swooning masses. Released at the height of Section 28, Sally Potter’s bold film queered British history, literature, costume drama – and me.

Born in Flames (1983)
Shot guerrilla-style in Manhattan as Reagan advertised “morning in America”, Born in Flames is his worst nightmare: socialist lesbian feminist of colour sci-fi. Sure, Kathryn Bigelow has a cameo, but – as rebel leaders taking direct action, Honey, Adele Bertei and Jeanne Satterfield are the blazing stars.

Blue (1993)
“The virus rages fierce. I have no friends now who are not dead or dying. Like a blue frost it caught them. At work, at the cinema, on marches and beaches. In churches on their knees, running, flying, silent or shouting protest.” Urgent, raging, brave, beautiful, informative, vivid Blue.

The Holy Girl (2004)
Catholic schoolgirls in rural Argentina pouring love and sanctity into each others’ ears, testing their sexual and spiritual boundaries, and finally floating in the secular cathedral of the hotel swimming pool as one’s terrible betrayal of the other comes to light.

The Watermelon Woman (1996)
“Girlfriend got it goin’ on!” Cheryl’s appraisal of 1930s African American performer Fae ‘The Watermelon Woman’ Richards applies equally to the film and its director. Dunye played Dunye, and Richards was her note-perfect invention. “Sometimes you have to create your own history” ends the film: The Watermelon Woman made history.

Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Chantal Akerman arrived fully formed, with a cinema suffused with the energy of thought and desire exploding beyond a single subject position and into utter queer absorption.

Nitrate Kisses (1992)
Barbara Hammer’s first feature-length film is a memory-work that traverses Willa Cather’s prairies, classical Hollywood, and Nazi Germany, binding them together through the taboo against queer sexuality – a taboo the film breaks gorgeously and insistently, refusing to collude with the erasure of desire and pleasure from history.

Girlhood (2014)
Girlhood is the least overtly ‘queer’ of Céline Sciamma’s films: Water Lilies focused on a girl-crush; Tomboy on a young trans man’s becoming. But its summoning of the ‘bande de filles’ is suffused by queer energies and pleasures, and Vic’s journey through Paris is also a journey through genders.

Drunktown’s Finest (2014)
Felixia, one of Drunktown’s three co-protagonists, is a model, an artist – and nádleeh, recognised as part of the long tradition of a Navajo third gender by her grandfather. Sydney Freeland’s first feature is the inclusive, absorbing vision of all genders living and loving together that we need right now.

Tropical Malady (2004)
It features a psychic tiger, a talking monkey and the first of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s psychedelic mass aerobics scenes – but also a hesitant love story between Keng and Tong, characters reincarnated across his oeuvre. Not as wildly queer as his earlier The Adventure of Iron Pussy, but tellingly, beautifully so.

Simon McCallum, Curator, BFI National Archive

Victim (1961)
Dirk Bogarde’s extremely brave performance as a closeted barrister drawn into a gay blackmail case directly influenced public opinion, and played a part in changing the law in Britain when the Sexual Offences Act was finally passed in 1967.

Dream A40 (1965)
A lesser-known landmark, Jamaican actor-director Lloyd Reckord’s startling road movie in miniature probes the psychological impact of criminalisation on gay men. Unavailable for many years, it was restored by the BFI National Archive in 2012.

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Love triangles were all the rage in 60s and 70s cinema, but Penelope Gilliat’s worldly-wise script elevates this to classic status by placing homosexuality on an equal playing field. The complex dynamics are played out superbly by Glenda Jackson, Peter Finch and Murray Head, as Finch’s much younger lover.

Sebastiane (1976)
One of the purest, most joyous celebrations of the male form ever made. This hyper-homoerotic, pig-Latin, queer-reimagining of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian looks even more stunning on the big screen in all its restored glory.

Terence Davies Trilogy (1976-83)
Three films in one entry so a bit of a cheat but these do function as a single work, tracing the tortured life of a closeted Liverpool clerk from cradle to grave. Davies’ very personal grappling with Catholic guilt and homosexuality makes for uncompromising, confrontational and essential viewing.

Female Trouble (1974)
Plan B (2009)
A low-fi comedy-drama from Argentina that really stays with you. A recently dumped Buenos Aires guy plots to get back at his ex by wooing her new beau – and ends up falling for him himself. Laddish banter gives way to an unfolding love affair and an incredibly poignant finale.

How to Survive a Plague (2012)
A harrowing and hugely important film documenting how a generation of queers was politicised by the US government’s criminally negligent handling of the AIDS crisis – and how members of the wider LGBT community supported the tens of thousands of gay men facing a literal fight for survival.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
This draws you into a passionate but traumatic lesbian love affair and spits you out three hours later, totally spent. I can’t think of anything quite like it, and it also features the most compelling scenes of eating in any film since Babette’s Feast, courtesy of Adèle Exarchopoulos.

This selection is a personal one and doesn’t attempt to represent the history or diversity of LGBTQ cinema – if such a thing were possible in 10 films. TV merits a poll in itself: in Britain, the major focus of my work, some of the most groundbreaking documentaries and dramas were made for the small screen between the late 1950s and early 1980s, often way ahead of their time in not just gay and lesbian but bisexual and transgender representation. Many were broadcast once and never seen again. Thankfully most are preserved in archives including the BFI National Archive, and since 2007 we have digitised many key titles for free public viewing in the BFI’s network of Mediatheques, alongside work made for the cinema.

Neil McGlone, Freelance Film Researcher – The Criterion Collection

Show Me Love (1998)
The first film I saw by Lukas Moodysson when it was on general release. Outstanding and touching performances from the two young leads.

Terence Davies Trilogy (1976-83)
Davies’ earliest work and already you can see shades of what was to come from the great man. At times haunting and ethereal.

Go Fish (1994)
Made on a budget of just $15,000, Rose Troche’s lesbian indie-flick, never got the attention it fully deserved. Ripe for re-discovery.

Beautiful Thing (1996)
Based on Jonathan Harvey’s award-winning play, this has everything; Mama Cass songs, sharp witty dialogue and most of all, it has a lot of heart. Stock up on peppermint foot lotion!

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Gus Van Sant originally wrote the story in the 70s with just the Phoenix character, Mike, then updated it over the years adding the character of Scott and utilising elements of Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays into the story. Cinematic poetry.

Rope (1948)
The homosexual subtext is there for all to see, but, of course, it being the 40s, it was never mentioned at the time. Known mostly today for Hitchcock’s experimental long takes and being loosely based on the Leopold and Loeb case.

Prick Up Your Ears (1987)
Stephen Frears, Alan Bennett, Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina bring the story of playwright Joe Orton’s relationship with his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, to life. One of Oldman’s finest performances.

Nowhere (1997)
Love Gregg Araki’s chaotic, screwed up films and impossible not to include one here. For me this has one of the best indie/shoegaze soundtracks of the 90s – I still constantly play it!

Death in Venice (1971)
Visconti’s camera catches the beauty of youth and innocence that we see in the character of Tadzio, while Dirk Bogarde looks on obsessively from the sidelines. Worth seeking out the 1970 doc, Alla ricerca di Tadzio, about the casting of Björn Andrésen.

Edward II (1991)
Jarman’s adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s play is sublime. The set design is exquisite as you’d expect and his use of light, subtle but oh so effective. Tilda Swinton in fine form and, for me, it remains one of Jarman’s finest films.

Karl Mason, Film Critic

Happy Together (1997)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Tropical Malady (2004)
The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Appropriate Behaviour (2014)
Un chant d’amour (1950)
The Law of Desire (1987)
Fox and His Friends (1975)

Mandy Merck, Professor of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
“What you call sin, I call love, which has a thousand forms.”

My Hustler (1965)
“… if this is what’s called service or servitude, it’s not a very good idea. You’re totally out of uniform.”  Dominance, submission and Dial-A-Hustler on Fire Island.

The Hunger (1983)
Lesbian vampirism at its most seductive and an eerie anticipation of David Bowie’s undeath.  

She Must Be Seeing Things (1987)
An unacknowledged classic of New Queer Cinema – memorably analysed by the great lesbian critic Teresa de Lauretis.

L Is for the Way You Look (1991)
If you want to understand lesbian spectatorship, watch these women watch Dolly Parton.

Blue (1993)
An iconoclastic elegy for the epidemic’s dead by one of the dying: “Like a blue frost it caught them.”  

Bound (1996)
The ultimate reply to patriarchal film noir, courtesy of Susie Sexpert and the then transitioning Lana Wachowski.

All about My Mother (1999)
An even queerer Eve, with the best screen wipes ever, created by the high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Gay melodrama with an Asian inflection: family duty, forbidden desire and two shirts hung together in the closet.

Grandma (2015)
As much Lily Tomlin’s film as that of its excellent writer-director, and the ultimate statement on lesbian ageing: “Time passes. It sure does.”

Jo Mills, Writer

The Wayward Cloud (2005)
Tab Hunter Confidential (2015)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Female Trouble (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Neil Mitchell, Freelance Editor, Writer and Critic

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Homosexuality, racism and Thatcherism – a potent mix deftly handled in Stephen Frears’ evocative and bold comedy-drama.

Victim (1961)
A gripping drama with a groundbreaking theme.

XXY (2007)
A startlingly impressive, sensitive coming-of-age tale about an intersex teenager.

Tomboy (2011)
An affectionate and emotionally charged portrait of a transgender child.

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
A big influence on Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange and a visually mesmerising journey around Tokyo’s underground gay scene in the 60s.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Fassbinder’s all female cast excel in this tale of relationship dynamics driven by sadism and masochism.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Joyous and hugely popular, Priscilla was the LGBT film the mainstream needed at the time.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
As far as narrative catalysts go, a botched vaginoplasty is right up there with the best of them. A wild, thrilling ride.

Young Soul Rebels (1991)
A vibrant representation of 70s class and racial divides as seen through prism of a relationship between a soul boy and a punk.

Totally F***ed Up (1993)
An essential part of the New Queer cinema canon; a punky, experimental adrenalin blast.

Chosen in no particular order, these ten films have all expanded my knowledge and appreciation of LGBT issues. Whether comedic, tragic, intense or celebratory, I felt nourished after watching them.

Mehelli Modi, Founder, Second Run

Another Way (1982)
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
East Palace, West Palace (1996)
Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
Happy Together (1997)
Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Law of Desire (1987)
Nighthawks (1978)
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Tropical Malady (2004)

Very much a personal list and in strictly alphabetical order. The only rule I adhered to was that I shouldn’t include more than one film from each country and director. But that meant leaving out many which I love… including films such as Word is Out and Glen or Glenda?, both from the USA, and Kim Longinotto’s 1995 UK film Shinjuku Boys.

Sophie Monks, Contributing Editor, Little White Lies

Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
Nasty Baby (2015)
Sworn Virgin (2015)
Carol (2015)
Do I Sound Gay? (2014)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Laura (1944)
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
My Summer of Love (2004)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

The films that I define as ‘for the ages’ possess a sensitive tone – usually married to vivid cinematography. There are directors (forgive me, Xavier Dolan!) and films not included because of a fiery focus that suits the work but that loses heat after a few viewings or the passing of years. This is an LGBT poll but ‘queer’ is a term that means more to me. Fear Eats The Soul is about love on the margins – it shows love exquisitely, it shows the margins bluntly. It will be relevant for as long as society is not universally accepting, which means it will probably be relevant forever. I tried to make my choices diverse so included Otto Preminger’s Laura. Even though Clifton Webb is a catty caricature of an evil gay man, he is just a delight to watch, and the film is one of the most enjoyable film noirs of all time. Had to shout-out to a documentary. As I have large LGBT gaps, David Thorpe’s Do I Sound Gay? nabbed the laurel for its layers of meaning and investigative spirit. Finally, I hope that Laura Bispuri’s Sworn Virgin is picked up for distribution. It’s a stone-cold masterpiece.

Brogan Morris, Writer

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Carol (2015)
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
My Summer of Love (2004)
Love Is Strange (2014)
Weekend (2011)
The Birdcage (1996)
A Single Man (2009)
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

Laura Mulvey, Academic

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Fireworks (1947)
Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)
Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Looking for Langston (1989)
She Must Be Seeing Things (1987)
All about My Mother (1999)
Tropical Malady (2004)
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (2006)

Christina Newland, Film Journalist

Young Soul Rebels (1991)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Cabaret (1972)
Scorpio Rising (1964)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Carol (2015)
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
Paris Is Burning (1990)

Ben R. Nicholson, Freelance Film Critic

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Before Night Falls (2000)
Stranger by the Lake (2013)
Bad Education (2004)
Lilting (2014)
Gods and Monsters (1998) (1998)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
A Single Man (2009)

Anthony Nield, DVD Producer

Fireworks (1947)
Un chant d’amour (1950)
The Silence (1963)
The Leather Boys (1964)
Lonesome Cowboys (1968)
Pink Narcissus (1971)
The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
Loads (1985)
Strip Jack Naked: Nighthawks II (1991)
Like Grains of Sand (1995)

Heather Osborn, Programme and Research Co-ordinator, BFI

Pariah (2011)
Desert Hearts (1985)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Another Way (1982)
Carol (2015)
Show Me Love (1998)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Go Fish (1994)

David Parkinson, Film Critic and Historian

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Fireworks (1947)
Un chant d’amour (1950)
Flaming Creatures (1963)
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Desert Hearts (1985)
Parting Glances (1986)
Poison (1991)
The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)

This proved an almost impossible list to compile, as it would appear that so few landmark films have been made by the acknowledged titans of LGBT cinema. Almost inevitably, the titles divide into those produced by avant-garde and/or underground film-makers during the pre-legalisation period and the more mainstream pictures released in the era of liberation, AIDS and beyond. The selection is intended to reflect the evolution of the LGBT film, but I am aware that so many themes and aspects of the attendant scene and culture are missing from this choice. However, I am sure that others will do justice to the likes of Fassbinder, Waters, Hammer, Akerman, Almódovar, Jarman, Treut, Von Praunheim, Friedrich, Schiller, Van Sant, Conn, Riggs and LaBruce, where I have failed.

Michael Pattison, Film Critic

Death in Venice (1971)
Gently Down the Stream (1981)
Pedagogue (1988)
Looking for Langston (1989)
Frank’s Cock (1993)
Crash (1996)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
Nefandus Trilogy (2013)
The Royal Road (2015)
Tangerine (2015)

John David Rhodes, Director, Centre for Film and Screen / University Lecturer in Film, University of Cambridge

My Hustler (1965)
Fox and His Friends (1975)
Bent Time (1984)
Theorem (1968)
[Safe] (1994)
Un chant d’amour (1950)
Sodom (1989)
Scorpio Rising (1964)
Community Action Center (2010)
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003)

Adam Roberts, Filmmaker and Founder of A Nos Amours

Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Quite simply the best film touching on human sexual life of any kind. Not only did Chantal Akerman conceive and direct this radical and eloquent work, she commandingly, exquisitely occupies every single moment of the film’s 90 minutes.

Un chant d’amour (1950)
The film against which any ardent film must be measured.

Sissy Boy Slap Party (1995)
A film of sublime, breathless joy.

Une robe d’été (1996)
Happy, fun, sultry, everything.

Orphée (1950)
Hard to ignore how this film articulates everything, for everyone, for all time.

Beau Travail (1999)
The best dance film, the best literary adaptation, the best study in hothouse passion.

Querelle (1982)
The sheer neck, the sheer exuberant, unapologetic expression of transgression! How lucky we are that Rainer Werner Fassbinder made movies.

Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives (1977)
This film made many at the time feel like they were not unusual – that all lives are fine and good. Collective filmmaking, too.

Weekend (2011)
A surprise that so tenderly and openly charts the contours of a weekend of sex and unexpected emotion. How good to have no qualm picking a recent film from the UK in a top ten list!

Torch Song Trilogy (1988)
This film was so important, looking as it did squarely at the devastation, the loss of life, the trauma of AIDS. Working on a documentary currently about the survivors of the pandemic, this film has come so often to mind, and with it Harvey Fierstein’s towering, inspirational performance.

Ben Roberts, Director of Lottery Film Fund, BFI

The Living End (1992)
Rough and ready, sexy and nihilistic, one of the first ‘AIDS’ movies I can remember seeing and less earnest than many.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
For me, the fact that 50s censorship suppressed all explicit references to his sexuality makes Paul Newman’s sulky silk pyjama-clad Brick even HOTTER!

Pride (2014)
Just a brilliantly warm, generous, funny, sad, progressive, mainstream film that I’m proud we were able to support from the BFI.

Querelle (1982)
Brad Davis in a sailor suit.

Head On (1998)
Once you’ve recovered from his opening solo scene, enjoy how Alex Dimitriades’ godly Ari claims his sexuality in such a sexy, ‘head on’ way. For any young gay person dealing with uncertainty and insecurity, it’s empowering.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
When I first saw this at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, I was upset for about a week. Simple thoughts about it would bring me to tears. Profoundly sad, with beautiful, complex, sympathetic performances across the board.

Beau Travail (1999)
I still have a very powerful memory of watching this at the Berlin Film Festival, and being completely gripped by its choreographed male posturing. I left the cinema feeling drunk. A hypnotic, muscular study of masculine identity.

Tangerine (2015)
‘Permission’ be damned, here’s a film that empowers its trans characters rather than victimising them. Sean Baker developed his storyline in partnership with his brilliant leads – Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez – and I haven’t seen an independent comedy with this much energy since the 90s.

Yossi & Jagger (2002)
Slim at 67 minutes (I think it was made for Israeli television) but containing such strength of feeling between its two leads that I find this a very memorable, though another ultimately tragic, gay romance. It was also a huge local hit, and shown at military bases in Israel.

Young Soul Rebels (1991)
I was about 16 when I saw this on TV. Julien integrates his gay characters, and themes, in such a matter of fact way, and for all the prevailing issues and threats, made me realise it was going to be pretty cool to be gay.

Selina Robertson, Programmer, Club des Femmes

Dyketactics (1974)
Barbara Hammer’s foundational film: Dyketactics is the first moment in the history of cinema to show radical lesbian sexuality on screen.

Madame X: An Absolute Ruler (1978)
A lesbian feminist pirate movie like no other. An anarchic, joyful attempt to reinterpret the genre and parody its conventions. Tabea Blumenschein dazzles as Madame X, who leads a coterie of women (including Yvonne Rainer as a rolling skating artist) into both sexual and social exploration.

Khush (1991)
‘Khush’ in Urdu means ‘ecstatic pleasure’, a culturally contentious word that Parma politically and poetically explores in her mesmerising documentary about the experiences of South Asian lesbians and gay men in the UK.

Un chant d’amour (1950)
Jean Genet’s unbelievably sexy film, set in prison has one of the all time top homoerotic moments in cinema when the two inmates share a cigarette through a small hole by blowing the smoke into the mouth of the other. A stunning exploration of sex, power and violence.

By Hook or by Crook (2001)
To date the best queer/trans buddy road movie to come out of the USA. No-budget, seemingly amateur, wilfully chaotic and goofily funny. The film premiered at Sundance, snowballed with festival awards and instantly became an irreplaceable queer cult classic.

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Based on the play Yesterday and Today by Christa Winsloe, directed by Leontine Sagan, it starred an all-female cast and critically resurfaced in the 1970s decade of heightened feminist consciousness, when its lesbian content moved more into focus as opposed to reading it as an anti-authoritarian film.

Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000)
François Ozon’s filmed version of Fassbinder’s early play is lavishly set in the confines of a Berlin bachelor pad dressed up in exquisitely detailed mid 70s swag. Purrr… It’s a self consciousness exploration into the mysteries of erotic submission and vicissitudes of desire with a kickingly kitsch dance number.

XXY (2007)
An stunningly shot, subtle coming-of-age portrait of a teenager called Alex, born intersex, torn between family, her personal desires and the daunting journey into adulthood. Never ‘on message’, with plenty of nudity without being explicit, a poignantly told human drama that never lectures rather steadfastly observes.  

The Watermelon Woman (1996)
A defining film of the 90s New Queer Cinema movement and the first feature film made by an African American woman, Dunye sets out to perform, reconstruct and investigate her history with her cheekily self-styled ‘Dunyementary’.

Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Chantal Akerman stars as an aimless young woman who leaves self-imposed isolation to embark on a road trip. With its famous real-time lesbian carnal encounter and its daring minimalism, this is Akerman’s most sexually audacious and incredible film.

Brian Robinson, BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival Programmer

Victim (1961)
Still a powerful watch with a great performance from Dirk Bogarde in a tale of suicide and blackmail which recreates the oppressive atmosphere of gay life in London when homosexuality was illegal.

Bound (1996)
A glorious, sexy, big budget Hollywood version of fearless fetish lesbians in a crime caper.

Stonewall Uprising (2010)
For anyone who wants to understand what the Stonewall Riots were about, this is the definitive and authentic history from a rich variety of witnesses. Should be required viewing for every LGBT person. One of my proudest moments was getting this for the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival as a world premiere.

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
This is a criminally underrated film featuring two great performances by Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor in a hugely enjoyable tale based on the real-life adventures of a serial fraudster. Its sexual antics frightened off many distributors but it deserves wider recognition as a bold and exciting work.

Pink Narcissus (1971)
A joyously sexy, almost psychedelic collection of stories featuring the fabulous beauty of Bobby Kendall in this hugely influential self-produced film by James Bidgood. A miracle of low-budget filmmaking and artistry.

The Law of Desire (1987)   
If I have to pick just one Almodóvar then this is it. Outrageous but delightful, high drama, sex and drugs in a film that seems vividly autobiographical.

Auntie Mame (1958)
This is a film about tolerance and inspiration, written by a gay man and featuring the enthralling Rosalind Russell who might as well be a drag queen in a towering performance. The campy Technicolor excesses in costume and décor are addictively alluring. This is queer subtext of the highest order.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Utterly gripping and rewarding cinema, a stylish lesbian drama from the prolific German master. It looks beautiful and still packs a punch but has a vicious edge.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
A brilliant adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, revealing Tom Ripley’s world of amoral deception and desire where murder is the answer to maintaining a complex web of lies. Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow are just a few of the excellent cast.

Far from Heaven (2002)
I almost chose Carol but I think this is my favourite Todd Haynes film. It has many pleasures and operates as a homage to Douglas Sirk. I love its sumptuous 1950s décor and conjures up the authentic pressures of being gay in the oppressive America of another time.

I am always looking for films where gay relationships are dissected. Too many supposedly gay films may feature gay characters but often ignore the psychology of relationships. I have gone for films which have made an impact on me personally and repay repeated viewing.

James Rocarols, Head of Online Programme, BFI

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Happy Together (1997)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Mysterious Skin (2004)
Orlando (1992)
Pink Narcissus (1971)
Show Me Love (1998)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Weekend (2011)

Leigh Singer, Film Journalist and Programmer

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
An obvious choice but unavoidable. Groundbreaking for Hollywood, with career-high performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and the wonderful Heath Ledger and a perfect final shot.

Carol (2015)
In acting, writing, direction, art direction, music, costume – a flawless film

Desert Hearts (1985)
The first LGBT film I ever saw and still one of the best. Honest and very sexy.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Brilliant on so many levels and one of the high points of US cinema’s greatest eras. Al Pacino’s confessional phone call with Chris Sarandon is one of the great pieces of screen acting.

The Duke of Burgundy (2014)
Dreamlike and strange, tough and tender, a stunningly left-field choice from one of Britain’s best contemporary filmmakers.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Captures teenage fantasy and hysteria like few other films. Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey are astounding. Still my favourite Peter Jackson film.

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Decades ahead of its time and still stands up as a LGBT classic

Mulholland Dr. (2001)
One of the great masterpieces of this century that also happens to be an LGBT all-time great. “Have you done this before?” “I don’t know.”

Orlando (1992)
Tilda, Tilda, Tilda!

All about My Mother (1999)
A wonderful paean to women from one of the most important LGBT filmmakers of all time.

Emma Smart, Library Manager, BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival Programmer

Desert Hearts (1985)
The first lesbian film I ever saw when I was a scared 14-year-old, trying to figure myself out. This film genuinely changed my life.

The Celluloid Closet (1995)
A vital film that explores how Hollywood has reflected LGBT people over the years, it’s a must for anyone interested in our cinematic history. I can watch this film over and over again.  

Kiss Me (2011)
A beautiful and elegant depiction of a lesbian love story, Alexandra-Therese Keining’s film jumped into my top 10 films of all time the first time I saw it. One I return to a lot, and one I recommend to everyone I meet.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
This film is a veritable cornucopia of queer delights, truthful, achingly heartbreaking at times, joyous, flamboyant, the superlatives can go on. It’s my go-to film when I’m feeling down, and it never fails to bring me back up.

Show Me Love (1998)
Falling in love with the cool girl in school, we’ve all been there. Teenage angst has never been bettered on screen, a sweet, romantic tale of two girls in love. Perfect.  

Carol (2015)
Literally the lesbian film everyone has been waiting for. Translated to the screen, Carol is everything I loved about the book and then a million times more. It is spectacular, breath-taking cinema. I fell in love with it at first sight.

Coup de Foudre (1983)
Unfairly forgotten in the history of lesbian cinema, but nevertheless deserves its place on the list, it’s everything I look for in a romantic film. Two women meet, it’s love at first sight, but takes them years to negotiate being together. Beautiful French angst. What more could you want?

Bound (1996)
Possibly where my love of films that have a lot of scenes where the lesbians are wearing vests began.

All about My Mother (1999)
Despite the copious amounts of tissues I need to get through this film, it’s a go-to for me when I need topping up on my queer quota for the week. Pedro never lets me down.

I Am Divine (2013)
A wonderful celebration of a true queer icon, every queer DVD shelf should have one.

With a limit of 10 films, I know there are many wonderful films that I have left off from this list (there’s not a musical on it for one thing!) Films that have enlightened me, educated me and entertained me. But whether they made this list or not, every single one of them has helped shape me into the person I am today, and for that I am so grateful.

Tim Smith, Filmmaker

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
One of the first films that I saw that showed a love story between two characters who just happened to be gay, their sexuality wasn’t the main issue. The way that the film deals with issues of race and class in Thatcher’s Britain takes priority.

Querelle (1982)
I saw this film in an impressionable time in my life and it’s remained a favourite. Beautifully erotic, and it made me want to read Jean Genet.

Looking for Langston (1989)
Isaac Julien has always been one of my favourite queer filmmakers (up there with Derek Jarman). His unconventional style showed me a different kind of filmmaking, blurring the boundaries between narrative story-telling and art film.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
One of my favourite Gus Van Sant films.

Edward II (1991)
Derek Jarman is one of the main reasons why I wanted to become a filmmaker, so it’s difficult to choose just one of his films. But Tilda Swinton’s phenomenal performance in this has tipped the scales for me.

Orlando (1992)
Tilda Swinton yet again blowing my mind. Gender-queer storytelling at its best.

Happy Together (1997)
Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung are just wonderful in this, despite the drama in their relationship. Christopher Doyle’s cinematography is stunning and Wong Kar-wai’s direction is brilliant.

Pariah (2011)
Dee Rees’ short film of the same name won the 2007 Iris Prize and I was privileged to see the film and meet her (my short film Le Weekend was the runner-up). The film is a very powerful portrayal of a teenager coming to terms with her identity.

She Male Snails (2012)
Ester Martin Bergsmark is such a wonderful filmmaker who makes beautiful, sensitive films.

Carol (2015).
So many Todd Haynes films to choose from (with a producer like Christine Vachon, how could he go wrong?), but Carol blew me away when I saw it during the 2015 BFI London Film Festival. During those 2 hours I relived all the joy and heartbreak of my first love.

Jon Spira, Filmmaker

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
An accessible trans narrative which inspires instant empathy and never holds back on laughs and gut-punches. Great, great songs. Deft magical realism and bold visuals from a first-time director. An utterly unique and brilliantly entertaining film which can be, and is, watched repeatedly.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Whilst exploring the ‘lesbian experience’, this film also beautifully transcends it. It’s one of the great films about love and the destructive aftermath of its failure.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
I’m not sure how this film holds it together – a Shakespearean Easy Rider with wildly varying performances, set on the streets and backroads of the US – but it gives a stark expression of some of what the younger gay generation were experiencing at the time.

High Art (1998)
A relentlessly dark but intoxicating study of the destructive nature of passion and addiction. It just features some of the best screen performances of all time. Ally Sheedy as the chaotic, charismatic lynchpin, Radha Mitchell as the willing fly to her spider and Patricia Clarkson as the excruciating faded star.

Chasing Amy (1997)
Derided at the time for a ham-fisted story of Ben Affleck turning a lesbian straight, I’ve always preferred to see it as a lesbian confirming her suspicions about confident, immature idiots like Ben Affleck. He never becomes the hero of the piece and his lesson is well-taught.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
I love how casually but respectfully this film treats alternative lifestyles. It can be hard on the characters, but only on their choices rather than their sexuality. Four years before Network, the part of a gay middle-aged Jewish doctor is a less-showy but perhaps considerably braver role for Peter Finch.

Enduring Love (2004)
Like a less misogynistic Fatal Attraction, Enduring Love explores an unwanted, intrusive and ultimately violent instance of a man being the focus of another man’s romantic obsession. A pre-Bond Daniel Craig inspiring unexpected emotion in a nuanced performance from Rhys Ifans after sharing a traumatic event.

Nighthawks (1978)
A tedious watch, punctuated by one legitimately brilliant scene (in which the main character, a schoolteacher, patiently answers questions from his homophobic, jeering students) Nighthawks transcends its own awfulness due to its budgetary limitations. In the background of the action, we see a visceral portrait of 1970s gay London.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
This is important simply because it doesn’t care what you think about it. It advocates hedonism, experimentation, selfishness and celebration and dismisses its detractors with a knowing roll of the eyes. Far from a serious exploration of sexual identity, it screams “who cares? just dance!” Pretty cool.

Brad Stevens, Film Critic

Mikey and Nicky (1976)
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
In a Year of 13 Moons (1978)
Pasolini (2014)
Arabian Nights (1974)
Wild Side (1995)
Visions of Clair (1978)
Scorpio Rising (1964)
Sylvia Scarlett (1935)
Raging Bull (1980)

Isabel Stevens, Production Editor, Sight & Sound

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Theorem (1968)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
The Watermelon Woman (1996)
Happy Together (1997)
All about My Mother (1999)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Weekend (2011)

Clare Stewart, Head of Festivals and Cinemas Exhibition, BFI

Happy Together (1997)
Carol (2015)
Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
Death in Venice (1971)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
If Every Girl Had a Diary (1990)
I Don’t Want to be a Man (1918)
Tangerine (2015)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Weekend (2011)

Peter Strickland, Filmmaker

Blue (1993)
A searingly honest account of loss and one of the most profoundly moving films on the devastation caused by AIDS.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
As with many of my favourite gay films, the specifics of sexuality are never an issue in Petra Von Kant leaving room for a universal exploration of how capricious love can be.

42nd St Hood (c.1957)
Bob Mizer’s world of horny hoodlums and lascivious jailbirds evokes both Genet and Tom of Finland. Perhaps due to the threat of prosecution, the covert thrills come from dressing up homoerotic desire within traditionally heterosexual rough ’n’ tumble scenarios.

Mano destra (1986)
A strange, forbidding and alluringly cold exploration of desire and restraint.

Paris Is Burning (1990)
I saw this only recently and I can’t recommend it enough.

Pink Narcissus (1971)
A film so heady and apparitional that it could’ve formed itself out of the musty steam and vapour from a clandestine bath house.

Postcards from America (1994)
Any film that has anything to do with David Wojnarowicz is always of great interest.

Super 8 1/2 (1994)
The first Bruce LaBruce film I saw and still one of my favourites.

Taxi zum Klo (1980)
Cheeky, scandalous and decadent, Frank Ripploh’s paean to Berlin’s sexual underground is uncompromising in its joy of wayward pleasures.

Trash (1970)
I became obsessed with Holly Woodlawn after seeing Trash as a schoolboy and ended up making my first 16mm short film with her a few years later. What still feels radical about Trash is the ambiguity concerning sexuality and gender identity.

This list comprises films from English and German-speaking countries mainly because I’ve seen few LGBT films from elsewhere. There are many films that I long to see such as Peter de Rome’s few features, Monika Treut’s early work and Wakefield Poole’s beefcake fantasies as well as several of the delirious and torrid shorts by George and Mike Kuchar. There’s also a huge gap in my knowledge of Rosa Von Praunheim and Werner Schroeter. As much as I love the films in this list, there is an awareness that there could be even more vibrant work out there that I’m yet to see and that includes Todd Haynes’ Carol.

Matthew Sweet, Writer and Broadcaster

The Servant (1963)
I’ve always assumed that Boy Barrett, the blackmailer of Victim, grew up into the ferocious sweaty sadist played by Bogarde in this film.

Victim (1961)
Still an electrifying film — and a wonderful taxonomy of mid-c20th queer types..

Rope (1948)
A Taste of Honey (1961)
Laura (1944)
Gayest salad-making scene in cinema history.

Flash Gordon (1980)
The Singer Not the Song (1961)
Why weren’t there more gay British spaghetti westerns?

Theorem (1968)
Death in Venice (1971)
Whiplash (2014)
An intense gay remake of The Seventh Veil.

Please excuse all the Bogarde.

Lou Thomas, Writer

Victim (1961)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
The Crying Game (1992)
Bound (1996)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Weekend (2011)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Appropriate Behaviour (2014)
Tangerine (2015)

Perhaps unsurprisingly my top 10 best LGBT film choices are coloured by my own particular geographical, emotional and genre preferences. In terms of genre, crime and comedy float my boat, particularly when placed together: if it’s loosely dark and funny, I’m interested. The Crying Game is the best combination of dark and funny on my list and is full of unforgettable lines, scenes and characters. For comedy lacking in noir styling but still hilarious throughout, Appropriate Behaviour and Tangerine are unmissable. Geographically, I’m a keen traveller but as a born and raised south Londoner, it fills me joy to see a terrific transpontine film (My Beautiful Laundrette). Emotionally, few films in either the LGBT or heteronormative cinema world can match the devastating and truthful heartbreak of lost love depicted in Weekend or Blue is the Warmest Colour.

Matthew Thrift, Film Critic

Michael (1924)
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Rope (1948)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Touki-Bouki (1973)
Happy Together (1997)
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Tricia Tuttle, Deputy Head of Festivals, BFI

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
I am from the South, my grandfather was ‘Big Daddy’, my dad was looked like Paul Newman (to me, at least) and I am gay. Those are reasons enough, but this is also one of the best plays ever written, beautifully realised for the screen.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)
I sat in the cinema for 30 minutes after this ended, unable to stop sobbing. The horror and the sense of the loss; it was like waking up from a dream realising you have done something unimaginably horrific. And what a knock out from Kate Winslet. I have loved her ever since.

Happy Together (1997)
Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung made breaking up so sexy – beautifully shot by Chris Doyle with the music of Astor Piazzolla.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
I had never seen female desire and power dynamics on screen like this before. I loved the twisted, mannered sexy sadism of it and the dark humour.

Carol (2015)
Perfect book. Perfect film. Todd Haynes. Todd Haynes. Todd Haynes.

Mysterious Skin (2004)
I’ve always had a place in my heart for Gregg Araki, though I have had mixed feelings about many of his films. This one is so fully realised with a ‘totally f***ed up’ and brilliant performance from Joe Gordon Levitt.

Tomboy (2011)
Céline Sciamma had to make my list and frankly she just gets better and better with every film. Girlhood is perfect but this also shows her insight, her empathy and the sensitive way she can take almost wordlessly quiet characters and make them readable like a great book.

Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Gael García Bernal in the sexy Mexican heat… duh! But in seriousness, this is vibrant, sparkling filmmaking and one of the few films that explores poly/bi sexual desire truthfully.

Women in Love (1969)
Again, this is one of those novels that changed the way I thought about myself and the world – so daring – and Ken Russell’s version is beautiful. Naked fireside wrestling, anyone?

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
What would queer cinema look like now if the Nazis hadn’t stopped its first nascent flowering? This film is spot on about the intoxicating love that teenage girls feel, but I also admire how it handles Fräulein von Bernburg’s love for Manuela too. She is not immune to Manuela’s affections and has a hard time managing her own feelings.

Ben Walters, Critic and Filmmaker

Pink Narcissus (1971)
Shortbus (2006)
Multiple Maniacs (1970)
Uncle David (2010)
Dark Habits (1983)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Happy Together (1997)
Fireworks (1947)
Sextette (1978)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)

James Weddup, Film Fund Co-ordinator, BFI

Nighthawks (1978)
Like Weekend but 33 years earlier, Nighthawks gives a snapshot of ordinary gay life but at a very different point in social history; it also portrays a London now disappeared, all to a bizarre and hypnotic synthesiser soundtrack.

Mysterious Skin (2004)
Mysterious Skin combines the subcultural verve of Gregg Araki’s early films with a weightiness and emotional punch brought by a plot hinging on child abuse and male prostitution. Centred on a fantastic performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it is dreamy and brutal, sexy and disturbing.

My Summer of Love (2004)
My Summer of Love’s heady combination of religious fanaticism and awakening desire create a strange and thrilling experience. Attentive to class difference and with strong shades of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, it leaves a startling impression bolstered by Natalie Press’ intense performance and a woozy Goldfrapp score.

Les Invisibles (2012)
“How radically a life can change with the touch of a hand.” So says one participant in this fantastic documentary exploring the pasts of a group of older LGBT French people. The richness of experience on screen is astounding and the bravery and honesty of the subjects deeply moving.

Young Soul Rebels (1991)
Young Soul Rebels is an exciting, sexy and ambitious portrait of two Black British Londoners and the city around them. Combining (slightly lurid) murder mystery with social realist themes of racism and police intimidation, amidst the pirate radio subculture of late 70s London, it is a unique and important film.

Paris Is Burning (1990)
A valuable debate about the film’s director, its subjects and their representation still simmers around Paris Is Burning, but it remains the most accomplished filmed portrait of African-American and Latino ballroom culture in late 80s New York, depicting incredible creativity in the face of violent transphobia and class division.

The Terence Davies Trilogy (1976-83)
These three stark, bleak short films enact the immensely ambitious project of depicting the life of a gay man from early childhood to the death rattle of his final moments. Erotic and religious experience mixes with the mundane and familial, and the Trilogy retains a unique and haunting power.

Bad Education (2004)
The sexiest performance of Gael García Bernal’s career; perhaps Pedro Almodóvar’s most effective articulation of weighty, twisted plotting with hilariously camp humour and gender performance; and the unflinching exploration of difficult subjects including gay love between children and clerical sexual abuse make this, for me, Almodóvar’s strongest and most rewarding film.

Beau Travail (1999)
This sustained exploration of hyper-masculinity and homoeroticism in the Foreign Legion is both intimate and operatic. The arid landscapes of Djibouti provide the setting for an entrancing, sensually-charged power struggle between two soldiers. The final scene, in which pent-up tension explodes in the most unexpected way, is breathtaking.

We Came to Sweat (2014)
This film is both a case study of the battle many gay community spaces face – against ‘market forces’ prioritising mainstream custom — and a portrait of a unique institution, Brooklyn’s Starlite Lounge, where boundaries aggressively enforced elsewhere (of race, age, sexuality) dissolve in place of “the freedom to dance”.

Sam Wigley, News / Features Editor, BFI

Scorpio Rising (1964)
Theorem (1968)
Death in Venice (1971)
A Bigger Splash (1973)
Lianna (1983)
Orlando (1992)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Tropical Malady (2004)
Weekend (2011)
Stranger by the Lake (2013)

Sarah Wood, Filmmaker and Programmer

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987)
I first saw this film at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The whole audience cheered and stamped at the end. Of course they did. The film’s wit and humanity were a revelation then and an inspiration.

The Garden (1990)
The Garden woke us up to the dog end days of Thatcher and the self-same British cinema. It was such a relief. Poetry, beauty, anger. Derek Jarman = visionary.

Death in Venice (1971)
Visconti may have melted Dirk Bogarde’s face with toxic theatrical make up but this is the most beautiful film about love and death ever made.

Julia (1977)
This isn’t explicitly an LGBT film but the heroic devotion played out between Fonda and Redgrave is inspiring for its representation of political sincerity and love between two women.

Home Stories (1990)
No one is better than Matthias Müller at reading the gesture of cinema. Here in Home Stories Hollywood melodrama is observed and remade. Found film genius.

Desert Hearts (1985)
I went to see this about ten times when it came out. It was revolutionary in 1985. A lesbian love story with (spoiler alert) a happy ending.

Show Me Love (1998)
The teen movie I always wanted to see.

L’avventura (1960)
I am nominating L’avventura really in celebration of Monica Vitti’s ability to suggest the complexity of desire. Behind everything in this film is Claudia’s lost love for Anna. It is moving and mysterious and Vitti a force on screen for all the loves that are possible.

Carol (2015)
What I love about Carol is the way we’re held outside the central relationship. How audacious. How challenging. We are left to our own voyeurism, the seduction of the image. Todd Haynes has revolutionised what cinema can do for three decades. Genius.

Eight Women (2002)
Catherine Deneuve! Fanny Ardant!

Campbell X, Writer / Director, former London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival Programmer

She Must Be Seeing Things (1987)
Pariah (2011)
Stranger Inside (2001)
Facing Mirrors (2011)
The Watermelon Woman (1996)
Sebastiane (1976)
Born in Flames (1983)
Looking for Langston (1989)
Mississippi Damned (2009)
Tongues Untied (1989)

These films are not in any particular order of brilliance. I love them all and more. Not a fan of lists as some great films will be left off the list too.
 
Any LGBT filmmaker who makes a film deserves a mention as I know its not easy making something authentically queer and LGBTQI when market forces dictate the exact opposite.

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  • The 30 Best LGBT Films of All Time

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    BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival is 30. Over 100 programmers, critics and filmmakers voted for the 30 greatest LGBT films of all time.
    Tuesday 15 March 2016

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