The 2023 London Film Festival is set to be another year of big-screen cinematic hitters and a showcase of indie gems. The programme is stacked full of titles ranging from political documentaries to intense dramas to musical rom-coms.
Though the much-anticipated LGBTQ+ films, including All of Us Strangers and Saltburn, are ones that we can’t wait to see, let’s not forget the plethora of lesser-known titles that are worthy of attention.
Below we’ve scoured the festival’s programme and have selected 10 unmissable cinematic queer treats that you are going to want to see on the big screen.
All of Us Strangers
Weekend director Andrew Haigh is no stranger to heart-stirring romances and his upcoming film All of Us Strangers certainly looks to continue that reputation. Starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, the adaptation of Taichi Yamada’s Strangers is a love story told between past and present.
Screenwriter Adam (Scott) grows inquisitive about his mysterious neighbour Harry (Mescal) as their relationship grows intimate. Simultaneously, Adam begins revisiting his childhood home where his deceased parents appear the same age as the day they died.
In Julia Jackman’s charmingly awkward teen romcom, two music-loving boys have their sights set on winning the school talent show. The queer coming-of-age drama is set in 2006 as George (Joe Anders) and Max (Samuel Small) form a music duo. The former may be an amateur but the latter is the son of a mega-famous musical duo.
Embarking on a sonic journey, George starts pondering if he’s dreaming of a future with music… or Max. Olly Alexander has composed an original track for the film, he’s also serving as an executive producer. Additionally, Josh O’Connor co-created Bonus Track and stars in the film.
Chasing Chasing Amy
Filmmaker Sav Rodgers documents an exploration of self-discovery while simultaneously making a documentary about the 1997 romantic comedy-drama, Chasing Amy. For a young Sav Rodgers, Chasing Amy, the Kevin Smith cult classic and seminal cornerstone of LGBTQ+ film, offered an escape.
Rodgers dives deep to examine the wider LGBTQ+ legacy of Smith’s cornerstone indie hit. He arrives at a convoluted crossroads, one that immerses viewers in a deeply personal quest of individual revelation and also cinematic documentation.
This intense adaptation of Ottessa Moshfegh’s psychosexual thriller, Eileen is an intoxicating tale of emotional devastation, sapphic sensuality, and unruly desires. William Oldroyd’s film follows the heady relationship of a timid prison guard (Thomasin McKenzie) and the new glamorous psychiatrist (Anne Hathaway).
Their intense friendship morphs into something unexpected and as they grow closer they hurtle in a sinister direction. There are dark secrets that haunt the prison as 24-year-old Eileen’s (McKenzie) world shifts on its axis.
Housekeeping for Beginners
Dita (Anamaria Marinca), a queer Macedonian woman, is desperately trying to keep her found family together. Inside this collective safe space, sexuality can be explored. Meanwhile, in Macedonia, such issues remain taboo and are shunned into the shadows.
Australian director Goran Stolevski’s new film follows Dita as she is thrown into raising someone else’s daughter. Also, Housekeeping for Beginners poses questions of what it is to be queer and to explore what it is to belong to a biological family and a found family.
Lillah Halla’s Brazilian drama Power Alley is a celebration of queer sisterhood. The film orbits 17-year-old volleyball player Sofia when she finds an innate sense of belonging in the gender-fluid volleyball team. That is, until she is in a desperate search for an abortion the night before a championship game that could secure sporting success in her future.
Exploring female reproductive rights in Brazil, Power Alley brings a queer perspective to this feminist drama. Additionally, having already premiered in this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Power Alley is one you should not miss.
Another big hitter in this year’s festival programme is the psychological thriller Saltburn. Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman follow-up is set to be another rousing drama from the Academy Award-winning writer and director.
Set in the mid-2000s, the film follows Oxford student Oliver’s (Barry Keoghan) burgeoning infatuation with his wealthy schoolmate Felix (Jacob Elordi). Fennell’s portrait of obsession takes place when Oliver spends the summer at Felix’s eccentric family’s estate. It’s a stacked cast also including Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant and Carey Mulligan.
Director Sacha Polak and star Vicky Knight reunite (following Dirty God) to tell this story of Frankie (Knight) a caregiving nurse wrestling with her own childhood trauma. Silver Haze, loosely inspired by Knight’s life, explores the moment Frankie’s isolated life is shattered when she falls in love with Florence (Esmé Creed-Miles). The latter arrives as one of Frankie’s patients on the ward, she has just attempted suicide but the pair are drawn closer.
With complexity and nuance, Silver Haze regards working-class life and trauma with careful hands. As Frankie and Florence are drawn closer, their queer romance becomes a vehicle for escapism and the two begin to plot their lives together.
It still feels like a rarity that asexuality is explored in the media, but Marija Kavtaradze’s drama Slow is dedicated entirely to the portrayal of intimacy in an asexual relationship. When dancer Elena (Greta Grineviciute) and sign-language interpreter Dovydas (Kestutis Cicenas) first meet, sparks instantly fly. Dovydas is quick to tell Elena that he’s asexual and the pair begin to examine their compromises and closeness.
Exploring the nuances of this underexplored relationship dynamic, Slow communicates through the language of dance and sign language. The engrossing drama also won the World Cinema Dramatic Prize for directing at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
The Lost Boys
A youth correctional facility isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of a romance. Yet, in Zeno Graton’s queer coming-of-age drama a connection shared by newcomer William and ready to leave Joe offers a new perspective on the goings on in juvenile detention.
In the facility, physical contact is prohibited and so Graton’s debut examines the potency of infatuation beyond the physical. The boys find themselves torn between the freedom outside and their own little world in this correctional facility.
Find out more and buy tickets to the 2023 London Film Festival here.
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