Lesbian characters in mainstream movies were few and far between in 2012 (Pitch Perfect and Your Sister's Sister are exceptions), but thankfully it was an excellent year for thoughtful, provocative, witty and sexy lesbian-themed films on the LGBT festival circuit. With the help of luminaries and up and coming directors we’ve compiled our list of the ten best. Although, our list is actually comprised of nine lesbian-themed films and one trans film that was so moving we had to include it. From the nascent love in Mosquita y Mari toYoung and Wild’s kinetic sexual energy to the crowd-pleasing romance Kyss Mig, it was an excellent year in cinema. A few of the films screened in their native countries in 2011 but did take off at US festivals until this year.
Thanks to all of the amazing filmmakers, programmers and LGBT film historians who contributed to our list including Guinevere Turner, Cheryl Dunye, Anna Margarita Albelo, Jenni Olsen, Campbell X, Kim Yutani, Barbara Hammer, Angela Robinson, Coley Sohn and our good friend Andrea Krauss.
Mosquita y Mari:
A coming of age story about two young chicanas, Yolanda and Mari, growing up in the Huntington Park section of Los Angeles, director Aurora Guerrero portrays young love with aching tenderness and joy.
Thom Fitzgerald's tender and funny road movie features Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as a lesbian couple on the lam from their nurshing home and headed to Canada to legally wed. Officially a film from 2011, Cloudburst made a splash on the festival circuit this year.
First-time feature director Campbell X examines the intricasies of various relationships when London stud J.J. and her best gay friend Seb must work through what happens when J.J. falls for a beautiful woman.
Joe + Belle:
Writer and director Veronica Kedar also stars in this dark comedy set in Tel Aviv about wild young love amid drug dealers, thugs and accidental death. It could be heralded as a lesbian Thelma and Louise set in Israel.
United in Anger: A History of Act Up:
A sobering documentary that illustrates activism at its most effective, Jim Hubbard's film follows each of ACT UP's HIV/AIDS-related actions from its inception in 1987 to its eventual demise. The film features and pays homage to several of the lesbians who were on the front lines during the AIDS crisis.
Young and Wild:
Based on the true story of a young Chilean bisexual woman with Evangelical parents, a sex blog and a boyfriend and a girlfriend, Young and Wild is an unabashed celebration of youth, freedom and sexuality.
An absolute crowd pleaser, director Alexandra-Therese Keining's film tells the story of uptight Mia and free spirit Frida, who fall in love at their parents wedding. The facts that Mia has a fiancé and that their parents are marrying each other poses some pretty big obstacles but true love will not be stopped in this film that was realeased in its native Sweden in 2011 but made its big splash at festivals this year.
My Best Day:
Multiple queer storylines pepper Erin Greenwell's quirky comedy that premiered this year at Sundance. Saturday Night Live's first lesbian cast member Kate McKinnon is among the cast that flesh out this tale of pure Americana.
Director Negar Azarbayjani's fearless film tells the story of Rana, who drives a cab in Iran to pay off her huband's debt. Issues of tradition and family arise when, in her cab, Rana picks up Edi, who is trans and attempting to flee the country for gender reassignment surgery.
"Facing Mirrors is not only a moving and complicated film, with humor and intense sadness all rolled into one, it is a stunning accomplishment that the cast and crew were even able to make the film. I loved this movie!" - Guinevere Turner
This little gem of a film from Canada, directed by Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert (Finn’s Girl) flew a bit under the radar in 2012 and premiered in Los Angeles during Outfest. The stunning cast includes Degrassi: The Next Generation’s Nicola Correia Damude as the titular character. When Margarita, an illegal Mexican nanny living in the states, is fired by her uptight employers she must choose between staying with her commitment-phobic girlfriend whom she adores, and going home to Mexico. The film also boasts an excellent soundtrack by Germaine Franco. Sadly, there is no trailer available at this time.