Five Fabulous Foreign Queer Documentaries Worth Watching

on

I love documentaries. What’s more, I’ve always dug the hell out of foreign documentaries. Foreign documentaries with queer folks at their core? My Holy Grail. So in an effort to spread the love, I thought I would share some recent films that have stood out for me. Here are five fabulous foreign docs to watch!

I’m Not a Feminist, but… (2015) Francefeminist poster

When I raved about Summertime (La Belle Saison) in early September, I couldn’t help but express my curiosity about the French feminist movement. I wanted to learn more about the movement in general but more specifically, I wanted to hear about the queer women I knew played and continue to play an important role in it. Well directors and sisters Florence and Sylvie Tissot made my quest for knowledge a heck of a lot easier with their new film, I’m Not a Feminist, but… . The title is a quote from leading French feminist theorist and the film’s subject, Christine Delphy. She introduced the notion of the economic exploitation of women in France with her 1970 book The Main Enemy. A friend and colleague of Simone de Beauvoir’s, Christine was a renowned name in her field by the early ’80s. She also just so happens to be a proud lesbian.

Feminist Still 3

Christine discusses her sexuality at length in the documentary, giving viewers a good sense of what the environment was like for queer women in France from the late ‘50s through the mid-80s. She never discussed the subject with her parents; all her early relationships ended in heartbreak; and rarely did she meet women who were actually out. It was only when she joined the feminist movement that she started meeting out lesbians. Yet even these women were reluctant to bring up issues important to queer women during meetings with other feminists. It’s all incredibly insightful, as is the peek we get into Christine’s new work, which largely focuses on denouncing the use of feminist activities for racist purposes.

Indeed, I’m Not a Feminist, but… is a great profile piece that shines some well-deserved light on a French feminist force.

Visit the movie’s website to find out when it’ll be playing near you, or order it online now through Amazon.

 

Born This Way (2013) Cameroon/USAborn this way poster

It seems fitting that after highlighting a French film we move on to a documentary about Cameroon, which still feels the effects of colonization under namely the French and British. Directed by Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullman, Born This Way is a look into the underground world of gays and lesbians in Cameroon, where same-sex sexual acts are illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison. If that wasn’t bad enough, the political and social climate around this issue is so tense that lawmakers are trying to up that prison term limit to 15 years. It’s this kind of environment the film’s subjects find themselves in.

 born this way 1

Born This Way introduces us to Gertrude, a young lesbian who works for Alternatives Cameroon, a center for homosexual rights in the country. While she appears onscreen throughout the film, scenes with her girlfriend obscure the couple’s faces. The fear is legitimate–Gertrude suffered through corrective rape in an attack that left her visibly emotionally scarred and her two friends paralyzed and dead. The corrective rape of real and perceived lesbians is an all too common occurrence in Cameroon.

The movie also features Esther and Pascaline, who faced arrest and prosecution for homosexuality in the small town of Ambam. They lost their jobs as a consequence of this and had to leave town for their own safety. Fortunately they have the help of internationally respected lawyer Alice Nkom, who despite receiving repeated death threats is determined to use the country’s supreme court to bring about change. I’m rooting for her, and her country.

With its important subject matter, standout camerawork and smart editing choices, Born This Way is not one to miss.

Check out the film’s website to find out when it’ll be playing near you, and for news on its DVD and streaming release dates.