Queer Essentials Film Collection

Available for Educational and Public Screenings from Third World Newsreel

Queer Essentials is a powerful survey of LGBTQIA+ experiences from award-winning directors in the United States and abroad and a must for educational media collections. Our ever-growing film catalog features more than 50 independent works from Richard Fung's ORIENTATIONS (1985), to New Queer Cinema from the 90s, to documentary films about Black Lesbian writer Audre Lorde, and the work of Thomas Allen Harris. More recent films include portrayals of trans activists Mama Gloria from Chicago, Pauline Park from New York, and Hector Plascencia from California. Submit a public screening request or email twn@twn.org with questions.

Mama Gloria (2020)

At a time when Black transgender women face escalating violence and make up the majority of transgender people murdered each year, Gloria Allen's story is an inspiring portrait of aging seldom seen. Born in 1945, Gloria came of age amid the legendary drag balls on Chicago's South Side. She transitioned four years before Stonewall with the support of the women in her family, including her mother Alma, a former showgirl and Jet magazine centerfold, and her grandmother Mildred, a seamstress who sewed clothes for crossdressers and male strippers. Never imagining that she would make it past 40, let alone 60 or 70, Gloria felt compelled to open a charm school for young homeless trans people in Chicago offering lessons on love, makeup and manners that she received from her mother and grandmother. A 2022 GLAAD Media Award nominee, MAMA GLORIA, Luchina Fisher's empathic and engaging documentary, is not only a portrait of a groundbreaking legend, but also a celebration of unconditional love, the love Gloria received from her own mother and that she gave to her chosen children. Watch Trailer and Download Press Kit.

"An empowering portrait of a resilient, wise and infectiously joyous trans elder."

Unspoken (2000)

Through letter-writing, a community discussion, and a drag performance, six queer and trans Asian Americans grapple with their queerness and consider what family acceptance might look like. UNSPOKEN's interviewees hail from across the Asian diaspora—with roots in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, and Korea. Some are not yet out to their immigrant parents, and this film is their way of starting that process. Some have tried to initiate conversations around their queerness, only to meet sustained denial. Others cannot communicate fluently in the same language as their families of origin. In this film, they all share what they would say if one day they woke up and their families' ruptures across generation, culture, and language were healed. Watch Trailer and Download Press Kit.

"Eminently teachable, UNSPOKEN is essential viewing for anyone whose interests lie near the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, and diaspora."

COVER/AGE (2019)

COVER/AGE examines the lack of healthcare access for undocumented immigrants in California, and how two undocumented individuals are advocating to fight this exclusion. One protagonist is Emma, an elderly Pilipina caregiver, who has spent over a decade providing care for others. Ironically, while Emma was providing care to insured, ailing patients, she herself was battling both illness and the U.S. health system which excluded her simply because of her immigration status. The other protagonist is Héctor (they/them), one of the young adult founders of the immigrant health movement in California. Through the film, we learn of their important activism and organizing, from mobilizing around healthcare with legislators in the state capitol to training other undocumented immigrants to advocate for themselves. While Héctor is engaged in the bigger realm of legislative transformation, their personal journey unveils a deeper analysis of what health justice means: Beyond the need to visit the doctor's office, access to wellness for all communities must include a more holistic healing that recognizes traumas communities have accrued from their lived experiences. Watch Clip and Download Discussion Toolkit.

"Libraries searching for an introductory case study in the subject of medical, law and ethics will benefit by selecting COVER/AGE."

Re-Orientations (2016)

A fascinating look into the lives and thoughts of seven Queer Pan-Asian Canadians as they look back on ORIENTATIONS, a 1984 documentary in which they featured. How have they changed? And how has the world around them evolved and changed? In 1984, Richard Fung released his seminal first documentary ORIENTATIONS: LESBIAN AND GAY ASIANS. Featuring 14 women and men in Toronto of South, East and Southeast Asian backgrounds, ORIENTATIONS was the first documentary to explore the experiences and perspectives of Queer Asians in North America. RE:ORIENTATIONS revisits seven of the original participants as they see anew the footage of their younger selves, and reflect on their lives and all that has changed over the intervening three decades. Their interviews are deepened and contextualized by conversations with six younger Queer and Trans activists, scholars and artists. Watch Trailer.

"An excellent teaching tool for diversifying one's syllabus and addressing social justice issues and Asian representation in North American society."

Coming Full Circle: The Journey of a Korean Transgendered Adoptee (2015)

Pauline Park, a transgender rights activist in New York City, was born into a poor family in post-war Korea. Adopted by white American parents, she left Korea as a 7-month old baby boy and grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 54 years later, she embarked on a journey of discovering and connecting to her past in Korea. Park, also took the opportunity to share her decades of experience in activism with local LGBTQ groups, including the Seoul Pride Festival.

"A transracial adoptee, Park reflects on racial and cultural determinants that have shaped her quality of life. This is an excellent film for discussing how the trans- in transgender also relates to the trans- in transnational."

Ọya: Something Happened On The Way To West Africa! (2011)

In this documentary, Queer Gender-Non-Conforming Nigerian media artist Seyi Adebanjo tells a tale not often heard about gender and indigenous Yorùbá spirituality. ỌYA follows Seyi's journey to Nigeria, a journey to connect with Òrìṣà tradition, or African God/dess tradition, and the powerful legacy of the filmmaker's great grandmother, Chief Moloran Ìyá Ọlộya. This personal and political story vibrantly investigates the heritage of command, mythology, gender fluidity, womyn's power and the hidden truth behind indigenous Yorùbá spirituality. As Seyi encounters many obstacles such as a national strike and anti-gay marriage legislation in the country, the film raises a critical question, will the artists be able to find self-affirmation as a person between genders/worlds and take on this inheritance in Nigeria? This lyrical documentary illuminates the lives of Òrìṣà Ọya (Warrior Goddess), Chief Moloran Ìyá Ọlộya and Seyi Adebanjo while interweaving Yorùbá mythology, poetry, performance, and expert interviews. Watch Trailer.

Best Documentary Short, Baltimore International Black Film Festival

History Doesn't Have to Repeat Itself (2011)

Forty-three years after the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, filmmaker Stéphane Gérard travels to New York City in an attempt to find the activist community that was born out of this historical moment and to document how the LGBT movement continues today. In conversation with Queer activists, organizers and archivists, Gérard touches upon the politics of sexual minorities and the fight against the AIDS epidemic, while documenting multiple community projects, perspectives, and ideals. Although there is much diversity among LGBT activists and groups, such as efforts to archive the movement's history and the creation of safe spaces, all activists share the same desire for justice, the same urgency to learn lessons from the past, and the same longing for utopia. Watch Trailer.

"Gérard sets audio against manipulated video of Queer bodies and forms coming together in community. As they march down city streets, apply makeup to each other's faces, and curl up in huge groups, the visuals convey a sense of promise, even as some of the interviews show how much work we have yet to accomplish."

Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles (2013)

TRANS LIVES MATTER! JUSTICE FOR ISLAN NETTLES is a powerful and moving document of a community vigil for Islan Nettles, a Transgender Womyn of Color who was beaten to death in front of a New York Police Department precinct in Harlem. Islan was a vibrant 21-year-old Transgender Womyn of Color growing up in Harlem, who loved hanging out with her Transgender sisters of color. Islan used her creative and positive energy along with her anti-violence values in her work as an assistant photographer and fashion instructor at the Harlem Children's Zone. A few days after her death, Islan's family and friends held a vigil at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem, steps away from where she was murdered. With video and still images, Seyi Adebanjo documents the vigil and captures the love and support that the Transgender and Gender-Non-Conforming community brought to sustain each other and Islan's family during this emotional time. Watch Clip.

"This documentary brilliantly embody the pain, anger, and solidarity felt by vigil attendees. It is an effective, thought-provoking piece...Recommended."

Audre Lorde - The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 (2012)

Throughout the 70s and 80s, Audre Lorde's incisive writings and speeches defined and inspired the women of color, feminist and LGBT social justice movements in the United States. AUDRE LORDE - THE BERLIN YEARS 1984 TO 1992 explores a little-known chapter of the writer's prolific life, a period in which she helped ignite the Afro-German Movement and made lasting contributions to the German political and cultural scene before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification. Watch Trailer.

"This poignant documentary captures how Lorde transceded borders through her literary works and and public engagements by emphasizing mutual understanding and the negotation of differences. A powerful tribute... the movie invites us to feel, listen, see, dance, and remember the legacy of Audre Lorde... as an indomintable spirit who appealed to and will continue to appeal to many individuals across the globe."

Against the Grain (2011)

Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing And The Fight For Fairness (2011)

Photos of Angie (2011)

Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project (2008)

Three Queer Mice (2007)

On the Download (2006)

Ent-homo-philia (2003)

I Exist: Voices from the Lesbian and Gay Middle Eastern Community in the US (2003)

E Minha Cara (2001)

Out: The Making of a Revolutionary (2000)

Close to Home (1998)

Not Simply a Wedding Banquet (1997)

Encounter at the Intergalactic Cafe (1996)

A Litany For Survival: the Life and Work of Audre Lorde (1996)

Memory Tracks (1996)

We Always Danced (1996)

Black Nations/Queer Nations? (1995)

Bodily Functions (1995)

El Culebrero, La Muerte de un Colombiano y el Acordeonista Que No Esta (1995)

Detour: Or How I Spent My Weekend (1995)

Slanted Visions (1995)

Vintage: Families of Value (1995)

Asian Boys (1994)

Cinema Fouad (1994)

Frankie & Jocie (1994)

Heaven, Earth and Hell (1994)

kore (1994)

A Ride Out (Una Vuelta) (1994)

Shades (1994)

Straight For the Money: Interviews with Queer Sex Workers (1994)

Two Spirits: Native American Lesbians and Gays (1994)

An Intro to Cultural Skit-zo-frenia (1993)

Odds and Ends (1993)

Our House: Lesbians and Gays in the Hood (1993)

Samuel & Samantha On (1993)

Sisters in the Life: First Love (1993)

Toc Storee (1993)

I Never Danced the Way Girls Were Supposed To (1992)

Juggling Gender: Politics, Sex and Identity (1992)

Chasing the Moon (1991)

Splash! (1991)

Jareena, Portrait of a Hijda (1991)

Testing the Limits: NYC (1989)

Orientations (1984)

Available for Educational and Public Screenings

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TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Ford Foundation, Golden Globe Foundation, Kolibri Foundation and individual donors.