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Big Summer Film Festival Preview: 10 LGBT Fests You Can’t Miss

Big Summer Film Festival Preview: 10 LGBT Fests You Can't Miss

Summer is more or less here, which means the majority of the world’s LGBT film festivals are around the corner.  From Los Angeles to San Francisco to Berlin to Toronto, many of the best queer films from the past year — not to mention quite a few potential discoveries — are about to hit screens, and we have this handy guide — in alphabetical order — of 10 of our favorites (which is not to say the dozens of others not on this list aren’t absolutely worth your time too).


Where is it? San Francisco, California

When is it? June 18-28
What films are playing? The world’s oldest and largest queer film festival will open with Justin Kelly’s James Franco-starring “I Am Michael,” which is coming off warm reviews from Sundance, and close with Natalia Leite’s recent Tribeca Film Festival premiere “Bare.” In between you can pretty much expect the rest of the best LGBTQ films of the year, including Alanté Kavaïté’s “Summer of Sangaile,” Malcom Ingram’s “Out To Win,” David Thorpe’s “Do I Sound Gay?,” Jeffrey Schwarz’s “Tab Hunter Confidential,” Mark Christopher’s “54: The Director’s Cut,” Jenni Olsen’s “The Royal Road,” and Jean Carlomusto’s “Larry Kramer In Love and Anger.”

Gaze: Dublin Lesbian and Gay Film Festival 

Where is it? Dublin, Ireland

When is it? July 30-August 3
What films are playing? We don’t know yet, but check back here. Judging from the festival’s history, it should be a strong mix of festival circuit hits, plus some local flare.

Inside Out

Where is it? Toronto, Ontario

When is it? May 21-31
What films are playing? Lily Tomlin’s first lead role in a film since 1988 will kick off Canada’s biggest LGBTQ film festival in major style this week as “Grandma” will make what appears to be a pretty rare appearance on the queer film festival circuit. Beyond that, there’s Sebastian Silva’s “Nasty Baby,” Jamie Babbit’s “Fresno,” Francois Ozon’s “The New Girlfriend,” Pat Mills’ “Guidance,” Alanté Kavaïté’s “Summer of Sangaile,” Jeffrey Schwarz’s “Tab Hunter Confidential,” Dee Rees’ “Bessie” Mark Christopher’s “54: The Director’s Cut,” and the world premiere of Jim Hansen’s “You’re Killing Me” (which looks great). 

MIX MILANO di Cinema Gaylesbico e Queer Culture 

Where is it? Milan, Italy

When is it? June 29-July 5
What films are playing? The 29th edition of the Italian festival will be announcing its program shortly here

Where is it? Los Angeles, California

When is it? July 9-19
What films are playing? The festival will open with “Tig” – a documentary about comedian Tig Notaro who became a media sensation and critical smash overnight after she turned her cancer diagnosis into a stand-up set. Additional gala screenings have been announced as well: Sebastián Silva’s Berlin Teddy Award winner “Nasty Baby” starring Silva and Kristin Wiig (U.S. Dramatic Centerpiece); Winner of the World Cinema Directing Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival “The Summer of Sangaile” by Alanté Kavaïté (International Centerpiece); Golden Berlin Bear–nominated “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” by auteur Peter Greenaway (International Centerpiece); the Sundance Grand Jury Prize–nominated “Best of Enemies” by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon (Documentary Centerpiece); and Malcolm Ingram’s documentary on LGBT athletes, “Out to Win” (Documentary Centerpiece). Check back here for the full lineup.

Provincetown International Film Festival 

Where is it? Provincetown, Massachusetts 

When is it? June 17-21
What films are playing? The 17th edition of the Provincetown Film Festival — which we should note, is not technically an LGBT film festival but, come on it’s Provincetown — will open with Leslye Headland’s romantic comedy, “Sleeping with Other People” and close with Justin Kelly’s “I Am Michael.” Other Sundance festival favorites that appear in the program include James Pondsoldt’s “The End of the Tour,” the Lily Tomlin comedy “Grandma,” Sebastian Silva’s dark comedy “Nasty Baby,” Sean Baker’s “Tangerine” and Bobcat Goldthwait’s “Call Me Lucky.” All of them absolutely must see films. 

ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival 

Where is it? Shanghai, China

When is it? June 14-21
What films are playing? This is actually a first timer, so while it’s not a “favorite” as a result, we felt it was worth a mention: ShanghaiPRIDE has always included film screenings as part of its cultural program, but 2015 sees the first ever ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival — a new space for queer filmmakers in Shanghai. “It goes without saying that visible queer characters and stories on screen contribute enormously to the progress of rights and acceptance for LGBTQ people,” the festival said. “The Chinese underground film scene is growing internationally, with filmmakers participating in events around the globe. ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival hopes to also provide a platform to showcase local filmmaking talents, piecing together a new understanding of what queer China is like through cinema art.” The inaugural feature film program explores the idea of “queer family” in all its forms. Eight Chinese and international films will be accompanied by Q+A sessions and panel discussion with filmmakers and industry figures. 

Where is it? Tel Aviv, Israel

When is it? June 6-15
What films are playing? The 10th anniversary of TLVFest — Israel’s primary LGBT film festival — goes down at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque from June 6-15th this year and will open with “Fresno,” Jamie Babbit’s black comedy which stars Natasha Lyonne, Judy Greer and Aubrey Plaza. TLVFest will also present the steamy, aforementioned “54: Director’s Cut,” with its director Mark Christopher and producer Jonathan King in town. Alanté Kavaïté, the director of “The Summer of Sangaile” — winner of the Best Director at Sundance — will attend the Israeli premiere of her film. Luizo Vega will present his documentary “The Material Boy,” which depicts a boy creating art that breaks boundaries in his fascist country as he longs for his “mother”, the Queen of Pop, Madonna.  

Vancouver Queer Film Festival 

Where is it? Vancouver, British Columbia

When is it? August 13-23
What films are playing? The latest festival on this list, it’s still a while before Vancouver announces its lineup but when they do you can find it here

XPOSED International Queer Film Festival 

Where is it? Berlin, Germany

When is it? May 21-24
What films are playing? Kicking off this weekend in the German capital, XPOSED is a much less conventional festival than most of the examples on here. From great talks (“Body Politics: Drag in Film,” “Queer Film Funding”), to midnight features like “Amor Eterno” and “Heterophobia,” to a few older and newer films you’re likely to have heard of (“The Adventures of Priscilla,” “Appropriate Behavior”), it’s a gloriously mixed bag you can check out in full here.

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