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I Hate New York

Gay Essential Review: I Hate New York at Raindance Film Festival

First, it should be noted that the title of this documentary is ironic, as it explores the lives of four LGBTQ artists who have chosen to make New York their home. I Hate New York is directed by Spanish filmmaker Gustavo Sanchez, who shot his subjects over 10 years.

Dykes, Camera, Action!

Gay Essential Review: Dykes, Camera, Action! at Raindance Film Festival

Fast-paced and fluidly edited, this feature documentary explores both the history of lesbian characters in the movies as well as the rise of queer female filmmakers. Dykes, Camera, Action! is a thoroughly entertaining film covering quite a lot of material in its brisk running time.

Ruminations

Gay Essential Review: Ruminations at Raindance Film Festival

Basically an accidental documentary, Ruminations came about when director Robert James went in search of stories about gay hippies in 1960s San Francisco and stumbled upon Rumi Missabu, a notorious raconteur who calls himself a “male actress”. As one of the original Cockettes, he is an oracle of anecdotes.

George Michael: Freedom - Director's Cut

Gay Essential Review, George Michael: Freedom – Director’s Cut at Raindance Film Festival

Originally made for Channel 4 in the UK, this documentary has been returned to its original version, as authorised by George Michael himself shortly before he died. In George Michael: Freedom – Director’s Cut, Michael offers an intimate, honest look at his life, ending just before the iconic singer’s shocking death at just 53 in December 2016.

Hot To Trot

Essential Opinion: Hot To Trot

Offering a glimpse into a little-known world of candour, fiery love and activism, Hot To Trot takes its viewers through a spirited and heartening journey that they will not easily forget. The film combines the style of dramatic cinema with the absorbing content and form of a documentary cantered mainly on the art of dancing.

Gay Hollywood Dad

Gay Essential Documentaries To Watch, Gay Hollywood Dad

Gay Hollywood Dad was originally a web series, directed by Quentin Lee, Frank Howley, Simon Steuri, Oscar Tsai, Jason Tobin and Daric Loo. It was later turned into a feature-length film that follows the struggles of an LGBT man who wants to become a single parent, as well as how his life changes once his biological son is born. Released in 2018, the biographical and documentary-style series stars two of the directors and features Elizabeth Sung and Candy Cheung.

Call Her Ganda

Gay Essential Review: Call Her Ganda at Outfest

Following one of the most gut-wrenching events in the history of the Filipino trans movement, Call Her Ganda is a staggering and thought-provoking documentary on the epidemic of violence against LGBTQ people. Part-chronicle, part-tribute, the film is ushered by three central female figures who take on a seemingly never-ending and irremediable quest for justice.

Love, Cecil

Essential Opinion: Love, Cecil

Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Documentarian Lisa Immordino Vreeland definitely doesn’t think so, as her examination of the life and career of photographer/artist/costume designer Cecil Beaton understands that the many contradictions in his character informed a lifetime of work across a variety of different mediums.

Man Made

Gay Essential Review: Man Made at Outfest

The public perception of bodybuilding is currently defined by the idea of warped masculinity – a heteronormative activity exclusively for men who take more steroids daily than they have braincells in total. It’s not entirely clear how media representation of bodybuilders has, in the past few decades, gone from presenting them as idealised men to cultural laughing stocks, but T. Cooper’s documentary Man Made is set to send stereotypes back in the opposite direction.

Studio 54

Essential Opinion: Studio 54

The New York nightclub Studio 54 was so iconic that we feel like we know its story, but this documentary is packed with never-heard details that cast it in a whole new light. The film Studio 54 is solidly well-made, assembled with an insider’s perspective and packed with photos and footage of the top stars of the day partying like there’s no tomorrow.

Believer

Essential Opinion: Believer

At one point in HBO’s original documentary Believer, Imagine Dragons vocalist Dan Reynolds is warned that he’s going to open himself up to criticism for organising a pro-LGBTQ concert – just not predominantly from the religiously conservative, but LGBTQ people aghast at a cis-gender, heterosexual white man co-opting their struggle. This is slightly unfair, as both the film and the charity concert presented within are born of good intentions that deserve the renewed spotlight this documentary will place upon them.

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