The Orchard in 2019 sold its film and TV division, which is now a privately held firm, distributing new content as 1091 Media. The Orchard, before the sale, released several acclaimed LGBTQ-inclusive and GLAAD Media Award nominated films including 2017’s BPM (Beats Per Minute), a French drama following young HIV and AIDS activists;Thelma, a Norwegian thriller about a queer woman with unexpected abilities; and We the Animals (2018), a coming-of-age story about a queer Latinx boy in upstate New York. In 2019, 1091 Media released documentary Hurley, about a well-respected racecar driver, who came out later in life; and Halston, the documentary of the legendary but complicated gay fashion designer. Other LGBTQ-inclusive releases in 2019 include family dramedy Before You Know It with a lesbian protagonist, and Sister Aimee, an alternative story of a televangelist who fakes her death to run away with her lover and finds herself intrigued by the woman who is their guide.
An independent production and distribution company, 1844 Entertainment does theatrical and home distribution for film and television. In 2019, 1844 released Paraguayan drama The Heiresses in the United States. Nominated for a GLAAD Media Award, the film follows a wealthy lesbian couple who fall into debt and how that situation unravels the rest of their lives.
Founded in 2012, A24 has become one of the most well-known and successful independent distributors. A major highlight of A24’s catalogue was 2016’s Moonlight, which tells the story of Chiron, a queer Black man, throughout three phases of his life, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture as well as a GLAAD Media Award. While none of A24’s biggest releases in 2019 contained leading LGBTQ characters, there were supporting queer characters in multiple films including dark comedy The Death of Dick Long, where a married lesbian police officer was instrumental in solving a murder; the horror film In Fabric, in which the bosses of the main character were two gay men; and Climax, a surreal and graphic horror film with gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters among a troupe of dancers. The Australian drama Outlaws, which got US distribution from A24, featured a closeted gay character as the villain who fell into outdated tropes and created a direct tie between the character’s evil traits and his orientation.
Amazon Studios began producing films in 2008, but did not start theatrical distribution until several years later. In 2019, Amazon Studios released Brittany Runs a Marathon, a GLAAD Media Award nominee that features a gay father of two among a rag-tag group of marathon runners. Amazon also released Late Night, which includes out actor John Early as Reynolds, a gay writer on a late-night show.
Breaking Glass Pictures
Breaking Glass Pictures is a distributor of independent film founded in 2009. The studio has released several LGBTQ-inclusive films over the last decade, including 2013’s Geography Club, about a group of teens starting a GSA at their high school; and Call Her Ganda (2018), a documentary about the murder of a trans woman in the Philippines by a United States Marine. In 2019, Breaking Glass Pictures released Kanarie, a South African film that follows Johan, a choir member who gets drafted into the military and comes into his own as a queer man; and Socrates, a Brazilian drama about a fifteen-year-old boy who has been outcast because of his sexuality and must try to live on his own. These films were nominated for GLAAD Media Awards.
The Cinema Guild
Founded by producers Philip and Mary-Ann Hobel, the Cinema Guild is a distributor of international, independent, and documentary films. In 2019, The Cinema Guild released End of the Century, a GLAAD Media Award-nominated romance set in Barcelona between an Argentinian man on vacation and another man from Berlin, which takes a random encounter and turns it into something more.
Starting as a DVD-of-the-month club in 2002, Film Movement has evolved into a theatrical distributor of independent film, focused on international features, art-house films, and documentaries. In 2019, Film Movement released GLAAD Media Award nominee Rafiki, a Kenyan film that follows two daughters of local political rivals who wind up falling in love. Rafiki is also notable for affecting change in Kenya, as it was banned for its lesbian content, but director and co-writer Wanuri Kahiu sued the Kenyan government, resulting in the ban being lifted and the film screening in theaters in the country. Other LGBTQ-inclusive films released in 2019 includes Cassandro, the Exotico!, a documentary following the titular gay wrestler and his impact; Genese, a French-Canadian film following a young man who falls for his best friend; and Temblores, a Guatemalan film about a man whose family and community doesn’t accept his sexual orientation.
IFC films has been distributing independent cinema since 1999, including releases from its branches IFC Midnight and Sundance Selects. Previous LGBTQ-inclusive films from IFC Films including romantic dramas Weekend (2011) and Jenny’s Wedding (2015), as well as Silas Howard’s A Kid Like Jake (2018). In 2019, IFC released Vita and Virginia, a drama following the romance between writers Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf; comedy Sword of Trust that follows a lesbian couple working with pawnshop owners to sell an inherited sword; and Knives and Skin, a coming-of-age thriller featuring a romance between two teenage girls.
An independent distributor founded in 2017, NEON has distributed several award-winning and critically acclaimed films over the past three years. In 2019, the company released Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a French romance following a painter who falls in love with a woman she has been commissioned to paint. The film received a GLAAD Media Award nomination as well as critical acclaim and honors at Cannes. NEON’s boutique division Super LTD also released documentary This One’s For the Ladies, following a group of Black strippers in New Jersey, including the story of butch lesbian stripper Blaze.
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Samuel Goldwyn Films, founded by Samuel Goldwyn Jr., specializes in art house and foreign releases. Recent films include 2018’s GLAAD Media Award-nominated Saturday Church, which follows a queer Black 14-year-old finding their queer and trans chosen family. In 2019, Samuel Goldwyn Films released GLAAD Media Award nominee This is Not Berlin, which follows Mexican teen Carlos as he discovers the world of Punk and New Wave in Mexico City, as well as his own sexuality. The company also released Mapplethorpe, a biopic of gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
Founded to distribute exclusively LGBTQ-inclusive films in 1989, Strand releasing has now expanded to other content, but still releases several LGBTQ films each year. Past highlights include road trip drama The Living End (1992), Israeli romance Yossi and Jagger (2002); and Puerto Rican documentary Mala Mala (2014). In 2019, Strand released Mamma+Mamma, an Italian comedy following two queer women on their tumultuous journey to have a child. They also released The Ground Beneath My Feet, an Austrian thriller with a lesbian protagonist.
Founded in 1985, Wolfe is the oldest studio to exclusively release LGBTQ films in North America. Some highlights of past Wolfe releases include Brother to Brother (2004), a film exploring Black gay culture in the Harlem Renaissance; 2011’s Tomboy, about a French gender non-conforming child; and Naz and Maalik, a romance between two Black Muslim teenagers. In 2019, Wolfe released Adam, directed by filmmaker Rhys Ernst, a transgender man, which follows Adam, a straight cisgender boy surrounded by a community of queer and trans people in New York in 2006. The film also stars Leo Sheng as Ethan, a trans man who befriends Adam, and includes a cameo by Mj Rodriguez. The film is nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.