Regarded as a powerhouse in independent cinema, A24 is known for producing a large body of respected work since its founding in 2012. Some of these films include Obvious Child, Ex Machina and 20th Century Women. A24’s second highest grossing film is GLAAD Media Award recipient Moonlight (2016), the coming-of-age story of a young black queer man which was the first film with an LGBTQ lead, and the first with an all-black cast, to win Best Picture at the Oscars. In 2017, the distributor released critically acclaimed and GLAAD Media Award-nominated Lady Bird, a story of a young woman growing up in Sacramento. The film also delves into the story of her gay classmate and his emotional journey as relates to his accepting himself and coming out to others.
Founded as a production company by out lesbian producer Megan Ellison in 2011, the company expanded to distribution in 2017. One of the films released in Annapurna’s first year as a distributor is out lesbian director Angela Robinson’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which follows the titular Professor Marston who created the original Wonder Woman. At the center of the movie is a polyamorous relationship between Marston, his wife Elizabeth, and their lover Olive. This relationship is portrayed as healthy and loving, and the two women went out to stay together and raise their children for decades after Marston’s death. Polyamory is still rare to see in any form of media, but it is especially impressive how respectfully this film portrayed their relationship and also built each member of their triad out as a full and nuanced character. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award in Outstanding Film – Wide Release. Annapurna’s Brad’s Status also included a gay character and his husband.
Formed in 2009 by Donald Krim and Richard Lorber, Kino Lorber combined the resources of Kino International, Lorber Films, and Alive Mind Cinema. Last year, the studio released GLAAD Media Award-nominated South African drama The Wound, which follows closeted men during the Xhosa initiation ritual, as well as the film Tom of Finland. Kino Lorber released three foreign films that had trans women in 2017, and though seeing trans people on screen is something we need more of, all of these films included on or off screen violence towards the trans women. In both the Thai film Pop Aye and Filipino film The Woman Who Left, the trans characters have experienced violence off-screen, and then are met with friendship by the respective protagonists. In France’s period piece Slack Bay, it is revealed that the character of Billie is transgender when her boyfriend discovers her genitalia and then violently beats her. This repeated portrayal of trans women as tricking men does not exist in a vacuum – this trope furthers a dangerous cultural misconception which leads directly to violence against trans women who are being murdered in the U.S. at epidemic rates.
Founded in 2001, Magnolia specializes in foreign and independent releasing. Owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, Magnolia is a subsidiary of 2929 Entertainment. LGBTQ-inclusive films of the past includes 2014’s Life Partners, 2015’s Tangerine, and The Handmaiden (2016), a Korean lesbian romantic thriller. In 2017, the company released documentary Whose Streets? which followed the inception and growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Two of the activists highlighted in the film were a queer couple who were raising their daughter in the world of activism. Magnolia also released I Am Not Your Negro, the documentary on legendary gay author and activist James Baldwin. Other LGBTQ-inclusive films released by Magnolia include indie films I Love You Both, Person to Person, and Lemon.
Originally founded as a music distribution company in 1997, The Orchard is now owned by Sony Music Entertainment, and started distributing theatrical releases in 2015. This year’s releases included two GLAAD Media Award-nominated foreign films, BPM (Beats per Minute) and Thelma. The former tells the powerful and heartbreaking story of HIV and AIDS activists in Paris in the early ‘90s. In addition to being a portrait of the French division of ACT UP, BPM also contains a significant gay romance. Thelma, a Norwegian arthouse thriller, follows the titular Thelma as she leaves her conservative family to go to university, and discovers her feelings for another woman as well as the mysterious powers that accompany them. The Orchard also released documentary Jeremiah Tower, which profiled the famous out chef of the same name.
A notable distributor from the 1970s – ‘90s known for producing commercially and critically successful film, Orion Pictures went bankrupt in the late ‘90s and only recently came back as a film distributor. In 2017, their most successful release was England’s God’s Own Country, a romantic drama between an English sheep farmer in Yorkshire and a Romanian migrant worker. The film is critically acclaimed in England and the U.S., and was nominated for several BAFTAS as well as a GLAAD Media Award.
Strand’s original focus when it was founded in 1989 was exclusively LGBTQ films. Now, it releases other films in addition to LGBTQ-inclusive movies, and is specifically focused on foreign film. Past highlights from Strand Releasing include 1992’s The Living End, following two men on a perilous road trip; Yossi and Jagger (2002), a drama and romance between two Israeli officers, as well is 2013’s sequel Yossi; Mala Mala (2014), which took a look at the drag and trans communities of Puerto Rico; and 2016’s Spa Night, a story about a Korean-American teenager exploring his sexuality. A few of last year’s LGBTQ-inclusive releases include Dream Boat, a documentary following a group of gay men on a gay cruise, Lovesong, a drama about two women whose friendship becomes romantic, and A Woman, A Part about an actress who reconnects with her lesbian former mentor.
The Weinstein Company
Launched in 2005, this distributor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following the dismissal of co-founder Harvey Weinstein. In May 2017, the company distributed the film Three Generations, a family drama about a transgender boy, his mother, and his lesbian grandmother and her partner. The film originally was set to be released with a baseless R rating that would limit the audiences able to see the film, but GLAAD pressured the MPAA and the rating was successfully changed to PG-13, allowing more families to see this story about a trans teen and his supportive family.
Founded in 1985, Wolfe Releasing is the oldest studio to exclusively release LGBTQ films in North America. It has released a large volume of queer film, some theatrically and some on demand. Presently the majority of its releases are direct to video and digital. Some highlights of Wolfe’s past catalog include Brother to Brother (2004), which explores the gay culture of the Harlem Renaissance, Tomboy (2011), a film from France that follows a gender non-conforming child, and 2016’s Naz and Maalik which revolves around a relationship between two Black Muslim teen boys. Some of 2017’s LGBTQ releases include coming-of-age drama Princess Cyd, centering on a bisexual teen girl and her summer romance, and Paris 5:59: Théo and Hugo, a French film told in real time of the first two hours two men meet and have sex.