Editor’s Note: This list was originally posted on February 27, 2021. It has been updated on June 22, 2022.
American movies and TV have made major strides in LGBTQ representation of late, but storytellers abroad have always been ahead of the curve, exploring sexuality and relationships with groundbreaking technique, and in ways often coded and ahead of their time. From Rainer Werner Fassbinder to Pier Paolo Pasolini, the fluidity of human sexuality has long fascinated international filmmakers unafraid to bust taboos. More recently, a director like Sciamma constructed a bracing picture of an intimate female relationship with “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” though looking back at her career, she’s long explored the nuances of female sexuality.
Foreign filmmakers are often the ones to push the envelope when it comes to queer film, and they bring their liberated sensibility when they make movies on American soil. South African director Oliver Hermanus (“Moffie”) is set to make waves with his forthcoming WWI romance “The History of Sound,” starring Josh O’Connor and Paul Mescal, and Italian provocateur Luca Guadagnino recently told IndieWire that his next film “Challengers,” starring Zendaya and O’Connor, will have queer themes.
Below is a sampling of some of the best international LGBTQ cinema out there — including alternative entries from popular filmmakers you may have missed.
Jude Dry and Kate Erbland contributed to this story.