We take you through some of the best lesbian imaginary onscreen, and where to track em down.
• Stud Life (2012), dir. Campbell X
Eagle-eyed Fringe! fam may recall that we included this on our trans visibility list, and we'd argue that that's okay! As well as being a first for a Black trans male director, the early-millenium classic put butch (and femme) Black Britain onscreen for the first time.
If you haven't seen it yet, keep your eyes peeled for a special collaboration event coming up early May!... If you can't wait til then, it's on Amazon Prime.
• Go Fish (1994), dir. Rose Troche
This film is a notable attempt at creating a 'lesbian film language' and subverting film-making convention, much as Spike Lee's films had done for African-American audiences. The film was also reviewed a few year's back in a now-infamous Autostraddle article called, 'I Watched Lesbian Classic “Go Fish” For The First Time And Wow WTF Is This Movie', which expressed impressions like, 'it’s important for you to know that this movie sounds like it was recorded from across the room in an airplane hanger', and 'feels like someone took acid and filmed their friends on a T-Mobile Sidekick'. It also mentions the Keith Haring style written credits and naff café culture vibe. Whether you love it or hate it, it sure is visible. Everyone involved went on to do more lezzy things in film and TV. So there's that!...
• The Watermelon Woman (1996), dir. Cheryl Dunye
Same era, same leading lady played by high-femme dramatist Guinevere Turner. Guin also played Gabby Deveaux (who was an ass to Alice!) in The L Word, and we're clustering all of her appearances in this sapphic assortment at the start. The Watermelon Woman, though, sees director and main star Dunye following the story of a piece of representation in film history of her own. It marks an important moment of a person picking up a camera and talking about what they know to be important.
• Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf? (2013), dir. Anna Margarito Albelo
Guinevere Turner's iconically dramatic femme image is played to its best (an Elizabeth Taylor parody) in this brilliantly dark comedy about a 40 year-old struggling filmmaker. Albelo's film manages to straddle the lesbian dynamics of knowingly naff and heartfelt genius in a way that feels distinctly ours. Other bits of bad/good in the film include The L Word's Papi as ridiculous 'muse' Katja and Carrie Preston as 'Angel Tits'.
Watch it on Amazon Prime.
BTW - if you'd like more content from Guinevere Turner / alum of The L Word / Go Fish you can also check out OWLS and Hooters (its making of) on Amazon Prime, which feature many of these 90s directors, and lesbian London filmmaker Lisa Gornick.
• A Luv Tale (1998), dir. Sidra Smith
Among the decidedly lesbian fare of the 90s, creator Sidra Smith gathered a group of talented, beautiful women of colour to create a drama that explored a Black lesbian's place in her female friendship group. Smith premiered the series remake at Fringe! 2019, so catch up on the steaming hot original on Amazon before the series gets a wider release.
• Co-dependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (2011), dir. Madeline Olnek
This modern classic by Olnek is the best concept for a lesbian film ever made, fact. The film is every bit as good as its title. Go see it now!
• Wild Nights with Emily (2018), dir. Madeline Olnek
The same director did lesbian history a huge service with this brilliant comedy about the secret lesbian life of 'spinster' poet Emily Dickinson, our closing film for Fringe! 2018. Olnek's space alien Susan Ziegler here plays the love interest of Emily, her brother's wife whose enthusiastic plan to remain close (in the family) is not lost on the audience. SNL's brilliant Molly Shannon plays the lesbian author with a dead pan reverence making this one of the most brilliant and tender lesbian comedies. What The Favourite does to Queen Anne, plus lesbian jokes.
Now I hand over to the rest of the team for some of their lez faves… PLUS documentary and experimental film to fill yr queer heart <3