Film Movement was launched in 2002 as a distributor for exceptional independent and foreign films. The studio previously released several LGBT-inclusive films including the Polish drama In the Name Of (2012) about a gay priest who struggles with his vows after he finds himself attracted to a country boy named Lukasz; Australian film Little Sparrows (2010) about three sisters, including one who is figuring out her identity; 2004’s Canadian dramedy Wilby Wonderful about a small town in the wake of a sex scandal; and the 2014 GLAAD Media Award-nominated Taiwanese film Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? about repressed optometrist Weichung, who is unsatisfied with his marriage when he bumps into a former male flame who stirs up forgotten emotions. In 2015, Film Movement released the German film The Chambermaid about timid hotel maid Lynn who hires a female dominatrix to help her explore relationships and intimacy. The company also released Breathe, a French film exploring the obsessive friendship and intimacy between two lost teenage girls.
Gravitas Ventures was launched in 2006 to distribute entertainment content through video on demand systems and online. In 2011, the company expanded its focus with its first theatrical release. Last year, it released the GLAAD Media Award-nominated feature Appropriate Behavior about a Persian-American bisexual woman struggling to reconcile her identities. Gravitas also distributed the comedy Addicted to Fresno (2015), from out director Jamie Babbit, starring Natasha Lyonne as a lesbian hotel maid who helps her recovering sex addict sister cover up an accidental murder.
IFC FILMS & SUNDANCE SELECTS
Under the AMC Networks umbrella, IFC Films distributes independent films and documentaries, while its IFC Midnights arm releases films in the horror and thriller genre. Another AMC Networks property, Sundance Selects, focuses on the distribution of independent films, documentaries, and foreign films. The company’s most successful and critically acclaimed LGBT-inclusive films include the 2011 drama Weekend, about two men who begin a relationship shortly before one of them has to leave the country, and the controversial but critically acclaimed French lesbian coming-of-age drama Blue is the Warmest Color (2013). Last year, the company released the documentary Do I Sound Gay? which explored whether there is such a thing as a “gay voice.” Other 2015 LGBT-inclusive releases include The Duke of Burgundy, about the sadomasochistic relationship between two women; Match, starring Patrick Stewart as a bisexual dance teacher at the prestigious Julliard school; and the lesbian wedding dramedy Jenny’s Wedding.
Magnolia Pictures was formed in 2001 and is now owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban as a holding of 2929 Entertainment. The distributor specializes in foreign and independent films with some pictures also released under the Magnet Releasing label. Magnolia’s past LGBT-inclusive releases include Life Partners (2014) starring Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs as best friends (one gay, one straight) trying to get their lives in order. In 2015, Magnolia released the GLAAD Media Award-nominated film Tangerine, about two transgender sex workers on a fateful Christmas Eve in Los Angeles. The company also distributed the documentary Best of Enemies about bisexual author Gore Vidal.
OPEN ROAD FILMS
Open Road Films was launched in 2011 as a joint project by the U.S.’s two largest theatrical chains, AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group. Last year, it released the GLAAD Media Award-nominated film Dope which had two theatrical runs in 2015. Dope, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, follows three nerdy best friends (including butch lesbian Diggy) whose lives are turned upside down after discovering a cache of drugs.
Starz Distribution, formerly IDT Entertainment and Starz Media, was founded in 2003 as an arm of Starz Inc. designed to produce and acquire original programming content, feature films, anime, and other filmed entertainment. Previous LGBT-inclusive releases include the documentary To Be Takei (2014), about the life of actor and advocate George Takei. Last year, the distributor released the drama Boulevard for a limited run. The film starred late actor and comedian Robin Williams as Nolan, a man coming out late in life who starts reevaluating his dreary life after befriending a sex worker.
When Strand Releasing was founded in 1989, its primary focus was the distribution of LGBT-inclusive films. In recent years the independent distributor has branched out, releasing non-LGBT films as well, while maintaining a focus on foreign films. Some of the highlights among the many inclusive films released by Strand are The Living End (1992), about a gay movie critic and a drifter who go on a dangerous road trip; Stonewall (1995), a fictionalization of the Stonewall riots; Yossi and Jagger (2002), about two Israeli army officers who have to hide their love for each other, as well as the sequel Yossi (2013); and Lilting (2014) about the bond formed by a British man and the Chinese- Cambodian mother of his deceased partner. Last year, Strand released the GLAAD Media Award-nominated documentary Mala Mala exploring Puerto Rico’s drag and transgender communities over a three-year period. Additional films include Futuro Beach, Cupcakes, Gerontophilia, Guidance, Xenia, Drown, and The Summer of Sangaile.
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
Founded in 2005 by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Company produces and distributes films and creates content for television. Its most significant inclusive films to date include Transamerica (2005, released in conjunction with IFC Films), in which a transgender woman discovers she has a long-lost son, as well as Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), A Single Man (2009), Philomena (2013), and the critically acclaimed Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game (2014). In 2015, Weinstein released the GLAAD Media Award-nominated period drama Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt. The film, which has picked up over 180 award nominations, explores lesbian sub-culture in the 1950s through the relationship between affluent Carol and shop girl Therese as they fall in love despite apparent differences in class and background. The novel was notable in the 1950s as one of the few inclusive works that had the possibility of a happy ending for its queer characters, defying the social constructs of the time. Another 2015 inclusive release was Burnt.
Established in 1985, Wolfe Releasing is the oldest distributor in North America to solely focus on LGBT-inclusive cinema. The company distributes independent films that tell stories of the LGBT community. Though the company has an impressive roster of films, a few are particularly noteworthy. The 2004 drama Brother to Brother is about an interracial gay couple who meet an older gay man in Harlem, telling them about gay life during the Harlem Renaissance. The French drama Tomboy (2011) follows a gender non-conforming child who decides to live as a boy after moving to a new neighborhood, and Reaching for the Moon (2013) is a biographical film about the relationship between Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop. As with 2014, Wolfe did not release any films theatrically last year. However, it did distribute several LGBT-inclusive films through digital on demand and DVD/Blu Ray. These included the GLAAD Media Award-nominated feature Boy Meets Girl, about a trans woman living in small town Kentucky looking to fall in love. Other releases include The Girl King, Liz In September, Of Girls and Horses, All About E, and In the Grayscale.
It is unsurprising that smaller studios, which don’t often have the budget to compete for box office attention against the majors, are still distributing the majority of stand-out LGBT-inclusive films. These movies are given limited reach, often only playing on screens in major cities, and audiences only find these features if they go specifically looking for them. Given the groundbreaking LGBT stories we are now seeing in other entertainment media, mainstream major film releases appear more and more outdated as they continue to include us only in service of punchlines or to add authenticity to an urban setting.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the SRI, it is clear that the current rating of “Adequate” is inadequate in grading Hollywood’s failure to include authentic LGBT characters and storylines. GLAAD will continue to hold film studios accountable for the stories these companies choose to tell on our screens. Lucky for them, we still have plenty of stories to be told.