A24 was founded in 2012 and has quickly risen to be one of the most visible indie distributers during awards season. Most notably, A24 released the Academy Award-winning and GLAAD Media award recipient Moonlight (2016), which followed a queer Black man through three periods of his life. A24 also released Lady Bird in 2017, which featured a gay character in a supporting role. Lady Bird and Moonlight are two of the highest grossing A24 films. In 2018, A24 released the drama A Prayer Before Dawn about a British boxer imprisoned in Thailand who becomes caught up in the violence of the prison. The film includes transgender women prisoners, who are housed separate from the cisgender men imprisoned. Lead character Billy strikes up a romance with one of the women, Fame. Though things don’t end well between the two due to jealousy, it is positive that Billy had no qualms about a sexual relationship with a transgender woman, and that Fame wasn’t subjected to any violence.
Founded by out lesbian producer Megan Ellison in 2011 as a production company, Annapurna began distributing films in 2017. One of their first films was GLAAD Media Award-nominee Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which followed a polyamorous relationship between a man and two bisexual women. In 2018, Annapurna released the Oscar-nominated film Vice, a scripted story of former Vice President Dick Cheney. The film includes Cheney’s daughter Mary, who is a lesbian in real life, and the film includes her coming out scene. Vice also portrays Mary’s sister Liz, whose anti-LGBTQ beliefs created a rift between the sisters.
Founded in 2014 by Andrew Karpen, Bleecker Street has been distributing films since early 2015. In 2018, Bleecker Street released GLAAD Media Award-nominated drama Disobedience, a film that follows a forbidden romance between two women in the Orthodox Jewish community of London. The studio also released documentary McQueen, which told the story of the life and work of legendary gay fashion designer Alexander McQueen; as well as drama-biopic Colette, which focused on the acclaimed queer French author and her fight to have her work recognized under her own name. One of Colette’s love interests in the film is called Missy, and is played by Denise Gough, a cisgender woman. Though it is good that the film chose to show Colette’s love for a transgender man, it is very disappointing that the film did not use the name Max instead of Missy, as Max was the name used by the historical person, and that the filmmakers did not cast a transgender man to play him. When cisgender people are cast in trans roles, it perpetuates the belief that trans people aren’t real, and denies a job to a trans actor who could bring a deeper authenticity to the role. We hope that films take authentic casting seriously when it comes to transgender roles in the future, and GLAAD and 5050by2020’s TRANSform Hollywood guide can help.
FilmRise was founded by Danny Fisher, Jack Fisher, and Alan Klingenstein, and the label releases content theatrically as well as on television and streaming channels. In 2018, FilmRise released The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Drama at the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by bisexual filmmaker Desiree Akhavan, The Miseducation of Cameron Post follows the titular Cameron, a lesbian teen who is sent to a “conversion therapy” program after being caught with another woman. The film also features the other queer teens Cameron befriends at the camp, and shines a light on the horrors that LGBTQ people are exposed to in so-called “conversion therapy” programs. The Miseducation of Cameron Post was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.
Gunpowder & Sky
Founded in 2016, Gunpowder & Sky is a distribution company, as well as producing and marketing content across several different genres and platforms. In 2018, Gunpowder & Sky released GLAAD Media Award-nominee Hearts Beat Loud, a comedy about a father and daughter making music together during her last summer at home. The daughter, played by Kiersey Clemons, has a love story with another woman (Sasha Lane) she meets during class, making a relationship between two Black women played by queer Black women central to the film’s plot.
IFC Films releases independent films under its own name, as well as the brands IFC Midnight and Sundance Selects. IFC distributed its first film in 1999, and is going on two decades of independent cinema distribution. Past LGBTQ-inclusive films from IFC include the 2011 film Weekend, lesbian drama Jenny’s Wedding (2015), and dark mystery King Cobra (2016). In 2018, IFC released the GLAAD Media Award-nominated film A Kid Like Jake, directed by trans filmmaker Silas Howard, which tells the story of a couple who have questions about the gender identity of their pre-school aged child. IFC also released Freak Show, a film about a gay teenager who wishes to make his mark on his new conservative high school. The film also starred Laverne Cox. Documentary Far From the Tree was also released by IFC last year, the film is based on author Andrew Solomon’s own experience with his parents not accepting him as a gay son and highlights other strained relationships between parents and children.
Specializing in foreign and independent releasing, Magnolia pictures was founded in 2001 and is a subsidiary of 2929 entertainment. Past LGBTQ-inclusive films from Magnolia include Tangerine (2015), The Handmaiden (2016), and documentary Whose Streets (2017). Last year, the studio released Skate Kitchen, a coming-of-age story about a group of girl skateboarders in New York, with a prominent lesbian character and some more queer women in supporting roles. Other LGBTQ-inclusive releases include documentary The Gospel According to André, about the life of gay fashion designer André Leon Talley and Lea DeLaria plays a lesbian bouncer at a Hooters-esque restaurant in Support the Girls.
Beginning as a music distribution company, The Orchard began distributing films theatrically in 2015. They now sit under Sony Music Entertainment. Past LGBTQ-inclusive releases include two 2017 GLAAD Media Award-nominated foreign releases BPM (Beats per Minute), a drama about HIV and AIDS activists in France; and Thelma, a thriller centered on a queer woman who develops unusual abilities. In 2018, The Orchard released We the Animals, a GLAAD Media Award-nominated film following a young queer Latinx boy coming-of-age surrounded by the toxic masculinity of his family. Other LGBTQ-inclusive 2018 releases include the lesbian dark comedy Duck Butter, and Argentinian crime film El Angel.
Orion Pictures was a large producer and distributor of commercially successful film in the ‘70s through the ‘90s with films including The Addams Family and Robocop. The company went bankrupt in the late ‘90s, but began distributing films again in 2013. One of their most notable films was 2017’s gay romance God’s Own Country. Orion distributed two theatrical releases in 2018, and both were LGBTQ-inclusive. Based on the young adult novel of the same name, Every Day featured a romantic lead who changes bodies and genders, and is briefly portrayed as a trans boy played by trans actor Ian Alexander. Anna and the Apocalypse, a Christmas horror musical with zombies, features an out lesbian character in the main ensemble.
Founded by Samuel Goldwyn Jr., the son of famous producer Samuel Goldwyn, the company specializes in Art House and foreign distribution, releasing films theatrically and on demand. In 2018, the company released GLAAD Media Award-nominated Saturday Church, a film about Ulysses, a queer Black 14-year-old who finds family in a group of queer and trans people of color in New York. The film features a queer romance and stars actors Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore who would go on to star in FX’s groundbreaking drama series Pose.
Founded in 1989, Strand Releasing’s original focus was exclusively on LGBTQ films. Now, it has expanded into including other films, while still producing several LGBTQ films and with a focus on foreign movies. Some highlights from Strand over the decades include The Living End (1992), the story of a perilous road trip between two men; Yossi and Jagger (2002), a romance between two Israeli officers; and 2014’s Mala Mala which follows Puerto Rico’s trans and drag communities. In 2018, Strand released The Cakemaker, the story of a German man who forms a bond with the wife of his deceased lover; and Postcards from London, the story of a young man in London, who becomes the muse for artists and discovers he has a rare condition.
The oldest studio to exclusively release LGBTQ films in North America, Wolfe Releasing was founded in 1985. Some of their notable past releases include 2004’s Brother to Brother, which explored Black gay culture in the Harlem Renaissance; Tomboy (2011), which follows a gender non-conforming child in France; and Naz and Maalik (2016), which depicts a relationship between two Black Muslim teenage boys. In 2018, some of Wolfe’s releases include GLAAD Media Award-nominee 1985, the story of an HIV-positive young man who comes home to tell his conservative Texan family; Anchor and Hope, the story of two lesbian women trying to have a baby; and Venus, the story of a trans woman who finds out she has a son. Unfortunately, Venus is another example of inauthentic trans casting with a cisgender man portraying a trans woman. For more information on how to better include trans people at every level of storytelling, visit glaad.org/transformhollywood.