With the prospect of a long holiday weekend surrounded by family and/or loved ones ahead, the question naturally arises of what to do with all that free time after digesting your turkey (or Tofurky, for our vegetarian friends). The recent, and long overdue, focus on the entrenched sexism in the entertainment industry has helped to highlight all the truly fantastic, and all-too-often underused, female filmmakers in the industry.
For queer female filmmakers, the struggle has been just as real — if not more so. So in solidarity with them and as something to do to avoid and/or engage in “quality family time,” here is a list of films by 15 out lesbian, bisexual and trans female filmmakers you can stream right now. Make your family watch with you or snuggle up solo on the couch. Happy Thanksgiving.
American writer and director Dee Rees had a confident debut with the acclaimed 2011 Sundance Film Festival hit “Pariah.” It was a lyrical and nuanced look into the world of a butch lesbian of color and her unaccepting family. In a just world that should have led to the type of opportunities and successes showered on fellow director Colin Trevorrow, who came to Sundance the following year with his own indie debut and went on to direct “Jurassic World” and is now on tap to helm an upcoming “Star Wars” film. While that didn’t happen for her, Rees was able to focus on a passion project of hers, the biopic “Bessie,” about bisexual blues great Bessie Smith (played by Queen Latifah). The result was a smartly observed, deftly drawn portrait of a tremendous talent in tumultuous times.
The Canadian filmmaker returns to theaters with her apocalyptic sister drama “Into the Forest,” starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, next year. Most gay women are already familiar with her visually stunning 1995 lesbian drama “When Night Is Falling.” But you may have missed her quirky and fanciful 1987 feature debut “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing.” Or, if you’re in the mood for a period piece, her 1999 adaptation of “Mansfield Park” is the most underrated and feminist in the cinematic Jane Austen canon.
Sure, you’ve already seen American filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko’s Oscar-nominated lesbian familial drama “The Kids Are All Right.” But since it came out in 2010, five years before marriage equality was the law of the land, your more conservative family members may have not. Since the Supreme Court settled this argument once and for all, now is your chance to make them watch.
Most lesbians have experienced the art-house aesthetic of Chicago filmmaker Rose Troche’s 1994 seminal lesbian drama “Go Fish.” But if you’re having a “Friendsgiving” with some of your gay male buddies, why not check out Troche’s 1998 follow-up, “Bedrooms and Hallways,” instead? The gay romantic comedy also features a slew of future stars, including Kevin McKidd, Hugo Weaving and James Purefoy.
Nothing says “Happy Thanksgiving” like a bloody story about a bullied girl who takes revenge on those who did her wrong with her telekinetic powers. American director Kimberly Peirce had a powerful debut with her 1999 trans drama “Boys Don’t Cry.” She followed that up with the Iraq War drama “Stop-Loss” in 2008. Her 2013 “Carrie” remake is her most mainstream film to date.
The Wachowski siblings’ most recent project was a truly bonkers space opera starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne. This movie isn’t good, but it is magnificent in its badness. And its ridiculousness will give your family something to bond about.
Following a theme, this movie is — quite frankly — a mess. But this thriller about an accidental murder and cover-up is an interesting intersection of queer talent, including director Cheryl Dunye, novelist Sarah Schulman, actress Guinevere Turner and more. “Owls,” by the way, stands for “Older Wiser Lesbians.” Yeah, did I mention it’s totally free on Hulu, no subscription required?
The 2011 feature film debut by Anne Renton, the story centers on a devout Catholic mother (played by Kathleen Turner) who struggles to come to terms with her less-than-traditionally perfect family. Emily Deschanel plays her lesbian daughter, who is about to marry her girlfriend.
This 2004 comedy is the only feature film by Chinese-American director Alice Wu. But, oh, what a charmer. This story of a young lesbian doctor who is closeted from her traditional Chinese-American mother (played by Joan Chen) holds up as both a cross-cultural exploration and a rom-com.
Did you know the 2011 Margaret Thatcher biopic starring Meryl Streep was directed by an out lesbian? Well, now you do. British director Phyllida Lloyd also helmed another Streep vehicle, the considerably less political and more musical “Mamma Mia!”
American director Jamie Babbit’s fifth feature reunites her with her “But I’m a Cheerleader” star Natasha Lyonne as a lesbian hotel housekeeper and pairs her with Judy Greer to play sisters in this dark comedy. It even features an Easter Egg for queer female viewers of a cameo by Lyonne’s “Cheerleader” co-star Clea DuVall.
Swedish filmmaker Alexandra-Therese Keining made a lovely story about a recently engaged woman who falls for the daughter of her also recently engaged father’s fiancée. It’s sweeter than it sounds, I swear. Also, bonus points for not having to wear headphones to watch, because this foreign film is subtitled.
Iranian-American filmmaker Desiree Akhavan went from helming the lesbian-themed webseries “The Slope” to her first feature, “Appropriate Behavior,” and guest-starring on “Girls.” Her 2014 Sundance debut followed a young bisexual woman from a Persian family living in Brooklyn who tries to reconcile her various identities.
This one is a classic for a reason. If you’re already home and sleeping in your childhood bedroom, why not tuck yourself back in to this 1986 romance about a newly divorced college professor and the free spirit she falls in love with while staying at a Reno ranch.
Quite possibly the ultimate Thanksgiving movie, this 1995 Jodie Foster dramedy stars Holly Hunter, Claire Danes, Robert Downey, Jr. and a turkey in the lap.