Founded in 2014 by former Focus Features co-CEO Andrew Karpen and named after Focus Features’ street address, Bleecker Street is a NYC-based American film distribution company. Past LGBTQ-inclusive films from Bleecker include Disobedience, Collette, and McQueen (2018). In 2021, Bleecker Street released Supernova, a film about a gay couple that takes a road trip across the UK for their last chance to make memories as one of them suffers from Alzheimer’s. They also released The World to Come, a romantic drama set in rural New York in the 1800s between two women, Tallie and Abigail. Unfortunately, the film falls into the “Bury Your Gays” trope, as Tallie dies at the end of the film, and their relationship is defined by tragedy. In 2021 Bleecker Street released comedy Together Together which stars Patti Harrison as Anna, a surrogate, and includes her friend Jules, a queer coworker. Dramedy Indian Sweets and Spices also contains a minor gay character, Nitin, who is out and accepted by his family.
Dark Star Pictures
Founded in 2017 by Breaking Glass Pictures executive Michael Repsch, Dark Star Pictures is a new-age North American distribution company that specializes in producing unique, targeted content and servicing distribution companies and producers in theatrical, digital, and festival spaces. The company began releasing films in 2018. This year, Dark Star released GLAAD Media Award nominated film Tu Me Manques, based on a true story of a man who lost his lover, and put on a play with an all-queer cast dedicated to his memory, which resulted in cultural change in his home country of Bolivia.
IFC films has distributed independent films since its founding in 2000, such as genre films (including horror and thrillers) through their IFC Midnight branch, and festival favorites from Sundance Selects. Some LGBTQ-inclusive films from IFC over the years include Weekend (2011); Jenny’s Wedding (2015); A Kid Like Jake (2018); Vita and Virginia (2019); and Summerland (2020). In 2021, IFC released The Novice, a thrilling drama following a young queer rower who would do anything it takes to make the team. They also released The Nowhere Inn, a music mockumentary following queer musician St. Vincent and queer filmmaker and musician Carrie Brownstein as versions of themselves. The movie included a storyline where St. Vincent started dating Dakota Johnson (also playing a version of herself). Benedetta, a sexploitation film from IFC and Paul Verhoven, follows a nun who believes she is a saint and begins a sexual relationship with another nun in the convent. The film received a mixed response from the queer community, many calling the film exploitative of lesbian sex for shock value. In 2021 IFC distributed the drama Moffie which tells the story of two soldiers in South Africa who have an intimate relationship despite the homophobic and violent regime they work under. Other LGBTQ-inclusive films released by IFC include The Dry, We Need to Do Something, and Werewolves Within.
Founded by Randolph Kret and Shaun Hill, Indican Pictures is an American entertainment company that acquires and distributes independent feature films spanning many genres to a broad range of entertainment outlets. In 2021, Indican released GLAAD Media Award-nominated drama Gossamer Folds which tracks an unlikely friendship between a young boy and a trans woman, emphasizing how they both change each other’s lives for the better.
Magnolia Pictures was founded in 2001 and is a subsidiary of 2929 Entertainment, specializing in independent and international releases. Past LGBTQ-inclusive highlights include Tangerine (2015), The Handmaiden (2016), Whose Streets (2017), and Skate Kitchen (2018). In 2021, they released GLAAD Media Award-nominated film Swan Song, which details a gay retired hairstylist who escapes his Ohio nursing home to style a now deceased client, eventually delving into how his past led him to this moment. Magnolia also released Two of Us, a French film about two older women in a relationship and how an accident brings their families into the know.
Previously a leading independent distributor in the UK and Ireland as a brand of Canadian company Alliance Films, Momentum Pictures is a film distributor and has since 2013 been a subsidiary of Entertainment One which is in turn a subsidiary of Hasbro. In 2015, Momentum Pictures embarked on a joint venture with Orion Pictures to acquire films for distribution in North America and internationally. Momentum released GLAAD Media Award-nominated film Port Authority in 2021, which follows a young man who moves to New York, falls in love with a trans woman, and in turn learns about the ballroom world.
Founded in 2017, NEON has released a number of successful and far-reaching independent films. This includes the critically acclaimed sapphic French romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) as well as drama Ammonite (2020). In 2021, NEON released GLAAD Media Award and Academy Award-nominated animated documentary Flee, which depicts a man’s journey as a refugee and his love story with his boyfriend. NEON also released Ailey, a documentary that paints a portrait of iconic dancer Alvin Ailey, his contributions to the art form, his identity as a gay Black man, and his eventual HIV diagnosis and death. Out actress Kristen Stewart starred in NEON’s historical drama Spencer, which followed one horrific weekend in the life of Princess Diana (Stewart). The film includes Maggie as one of Diana’s hairdressers who happens to be in love with the Princess. When she eventually confesses these feelings, Diana meets her with nothing but kindness.
Oscilloscope Laboratories is an NYC-based independent feature film company founded by Adam Yauch and TH!NKFilm executive David Fenkel (who later co-founded A24). Oscilloscope signed a deal with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution in 2009 and is currently headed by Dan Berger. In 2021, they released GLAAD Media award nominated documentary No Ordinary Man, which tells the story of trans musician Billy Tipton through the lens of trans performers and artists.
Strand Releasing started in 1989 as a distribution company specifically for LGBTQ films, but have since expanded their repertoire to encompass a greater range of films while not losing sight of their LGBTQ-inclusive roots. Past inclusive films include The Living End (1992); Yossi and Jagger (2002); documentary Mala Mala (2014) which traverses Puerto Rico’s queer and trans community; GLAAD Media Award nominee Monsoon (2020); Straight Up (2020); and Guatemalan drama José (2020). In 2021, Strand released GLAAD Media Award-nominated film Twilight’s Kiss, which chronicles two older men in Hong Kong who begin a relationship, and delves into the reality of being gay in your elder years. Strand also released romantic drama Cicada, which follows a young bisexual man’s struggle to overcome his childhood trauma while he falls for a young Black man recovering from a shooting. Another 2021 Strand film, Minyan, follows a young Jewish man in the ‘80s coming to terms with his sexuality and his place in the community.
Co-founded by filmmaker Robert Schwartzman and Cole Harper in 2018, Utopia is a film production, distribution and sales company that focuses on independent and documentary cinema. In 2020, Utopia launched technology platform Altavod, which gives filmmakers full control to distribute their films, and division Utopia Originals, which specializes in the development, packaging, and sales of film and television projects. In 2021, Utopia released Shiva Baby, a GLAAD Media Award-nominated dark comedy that follows a young bisexual woman who has a series of uncomfortable encounters with the older man she’s sleeping with for money and his wife, as well as a girl she used to hook up with in high school.
Vertical Entertainment has distributed independent films in theaters and on demand since its 2012 founding. Past LGBTQ-inclusive films include GLAAD Media Award-winning Other People (2016) and GLAAD Media Award-nominated The True Adventures of Wolfboy (2020). In 2021, Vertical released Breaking Fast, a GLAAD Media Award-nominated romantic comedy between a Muslim man who just ended a relationship and an American man he meets on the first day of Ramadan.
Founded in 1985, Wolfe Releasing is the oldest and largest North American distributor of LGBTQ films. Previous studio releases include 2004’s Brother to Brother, an unprecedented exploration of Black gay culture during the Harlem Renaissance; Tomboy (2011); GLAAD Media Award nominees Boy Meets Girl (2015) and Naz and Maalik (2015); An Almost Ordinary Summer (2020); and Good Kisser (2020). In 2021, Wolfe released GLAAD Media Award-nominee The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, which follows a young gay Black man who is forced to relive the day he was shot over and over again. They also released Milkwater, a film about a young woman who decides to be a surrogate for a gay man and features a rich queer ensemble.