With awards season in full swing, the past twelve months in cinema are being given their moment in the sun; with red carpet glamour only somewhat dampened by toe-curling monologues from unfunny male ‘comedians’.
So, as the stars sit down to sip champagne and attempt to avoid being caught gossiping on camera, Sundance Film Festival 2024 is preparing to show the next season of films vying for audiences’ love and attention. From Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen to Call Me By Your Name, plenty of queer movies have made their debut at the illustrious festival.
With Sundance opening today and running until 28th January, GAY TIMES shares our top picks featuring community stories from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Keep reading for the queer films that need to be on your radar.
Will & Harper
Following his role in the box-office hit Barbie, actor and comedian Will Ferrell stars in Josh Greenbaum’s latest documentary, Will & Harper. The film follows Ferrell – filmed through the windshield of a Jeep – and his close friend of 30 years, Harper Steele, as they embark on a new stage in their friendship after Steele comes out as a trans woman. Documenting their journey across America, the two use the intimacy of a road trip to showcase their unbreakable friendship.
Writer and performer Amrou Al-Kadhi has directed Layla, a stunning LGBTQIA+ love story that celebrates the joy of chosen community and self-acceptance. Produced by Savannah James-Bayly and starring Bilal Hasna, the film follows the titular Layla – a struggling British-Palestinian drag performer who meets Max (Louis Greatorex) during an awkward corporate Pride event. Packed with romance, drama and unusual cameos – expect appearances from British musician Self Esteem and RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Baby.
Love Lies Bleeding
If you’re a queer movie buff looking for a sapphic thriller like the neo-noir crime Bound, then director Rose Glass has got you covered. Love Lies Bleeding follows gym manager Lou (Kristen Stewart) and bisexual bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O’Brian) through a fast-paced, gun-slinging, hedonistic love story. Co-produced by A24 and Film 4, Love Lies Bleeding is Glass’s Sundance festival debut after her much-loved first feature Saint Maud was heralded a triumph upon its debut in 2019 at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
When GAY TIMES last spoke with multihyphenate actor, writer and director River Gallo, they teased their Sundance Film Festival debut. Well, get ready, because here it is. Ponyboi, written and produced by Gallo and directed by Esteban Arango, is set in New Jersey and follows a young intersex sex worker on the run from the mob. Full of Latinx representation and emotion, Ponyboi is a poignant and powerful watch with approaches sex work from an angle often not seen in cinema, capturing the intersex experience with compassion and reality in equal measure. With The White Lotus star Murray Bartlett, Pose legend Indya Moore and Teen Wolf actor Dylan O’Brien among the principal cast, it’s set to set pulses racing.
If you want a transmasc quest to understand love and sexual desire, well, trans scholar Jules Rosskam’s Sundance debut Desire Lines is the one for you. Labelled as a ‘hybrid documentary’, the film is brought to life through drama, interview and archival exploration as an Iranian-American trans man takes a trip through history to understand his sexuality via an erotic journey of self-discovery. Starring The Politician actor Theo Germaine and Aden Hakimi, the feature is one of the most unique films in this year’s Sundance programme.
You can find out more about the Sundance Film Festival 2024 and all the films listed above here.