Five Fabulous Foreign Queer Documentaries Worth Watching

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Community: LGBTIQ (2015) ArgentinaComunidad Poster

On the other side of the Atlantic, things are really moving in the right direction for Argentina. The country’s return to democracy in 1983 allowed its LGBT rights movement to thrive, and thrive it did during these last three decades. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010 and in 2012 the government passed the “Gender Identity Law” granting people the right to change their legal gender without needing to get approval from a judge or doctor. Gonxalo Martín Collado documents all these victories and more in Community: LGBTIQ.

Of course, I wouldn’t even be mentioning this film if it didn’t highlight some kickass queer women. It does, including some from leading LGBT organizations in the country. And while they and other activists are proud of Argentina’s progress, they make it clear more progress is a must. Amongst other issues, public perception of the queer community still needs to change for the better. As does the education system, as right now certain provinces aren’t allowing updated sexual health materials into their schools.

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The movie looks outward too, choosing to also shoot in Moscow and Berlin as a point of comparison with present-day Argentina. Community: LGBTIQ speaks to the situation in those countries, as well as that of other Latin American countries that still have a ways to go on the LGBT rights front.

The team behind Community: LGBTIQ is a small one and it’s pretty clear at times that so was their budget. While the film relies a bit too much on fast transitions, graphics and photo stills for my liking, it’s still a well-shot documentary that successfully celebrates the community’s wins whilst asking for more.

Visit Community: LGBTIQ’s Facebook page for news on the film and to find out when it’ll be playing near you.

 

Global Gay (2014) Franceglobal gay poster

While the numbers are in constant flux, right now more than 70 countries across the world have laws criminalizing homosexuality. In a handful of them the death penalty for same-sex relations is in place. It comes as no surprise then that cries to get the United Nations to do something about decriminalizing homosexuality worldwide have been around for some time. What would it take to get some traction on this? The right people. Rémi Lainé and Frédéric Martel featured five of the fight’s key figures in their documentary Global Gay.

Once again pleading the Cameroon case is Alice Nkom. She’s truly an inspirational woman and I’ll take as much of her as I can get. She’s equally as impressed with Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a French minister and supporter of LGBT rights. Rounding out the duo is a Russian activist, a South African judge and a European Parliament member. Quick–get out the Flags of the World flashcards!

Global Gay 1 Mariela Castro

Besides the fabulous five, the film also highlights dynamic women like Mariela Castro, Cuban LGBT rights activist and director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, and Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014. Global Gay also introduces us to some of the folks who matter most in this effort–the everyday people oppressed by these ridiculous laws. And that right there is why I think this movie is an important watch for us all.

Global Gay is available to buy or rent through Vimeo on Demand.

 

Last Chance (2012) Canadalast chance poster

The last film on our list is, appropriately, Last Chance. Paul Émile d’Entremont’s documentary looks at five asylum seekers who have fled their homelands fearing homophobic or transphobic violence. They’re seeking refuge in Canada, but their stay is not a given. As a Canadian, I can tell you that although the rest of the world often upholds Canada as a gold standard of sorts in this regard, we still have a lot to improve on. Last Chance makes this obvious.

The person to watch for in Last Chance is Trudi, a Jamaican lesbian looking for asylum in Canada. Trudi is afraid for her life after being beat up by a group of men and raped at gunpoint in yet another example of corrective rape. Her girlfriend Betty left for the U.S. five months ago because of the situation, but adorably she visits Trudi in Jamaica before her trip and then again when she’s in Canada. Yes, Trudi got a visa to go to Canada, but receiving official refugee status is going to be a whole other level of hard.

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After what Trudi and others like her have faced, it seems almost inhumane to make them go through the struggle of integrating into a new country while fearing the very real possibility that they may be deported. Last Chance certainly fills you with those thoughts. The fact is the Canadian asylum system relies on speed and emphasizes a claimant’s credibility, so you better have the supporting documentation to prove you’re queer and you better come up with it fast. At best, you get that refugee status, but the whole process has left you retraumatized. At worst, they could send you back to your native country, where a rocky fate awaits you. That’s so not the Canada I want to be associated with.

Last Chance does an impeccable job profiling its five subjects, and an even better job at serving up a much-needed reality check. It’s a must watch for the collective conscious.

If you want to watch Last Chance, you can rent, purchase it for download, order it on DVD, or buy it through iTunes by visiting the movie’s website.

There you have it–five hot docs for your viewing pleasure. Happy watching!

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