I don’t know about you but I’ve seen a lot of lists of ‘best lesbian films’ or ‘films about bi women that you must see’ which are (almost) entirely comprised of films about white women. Don’t get me wrong- those films are great- but if we don’t also talk about the films that focus on lesbians and bi women of color, we are missing out on some major talent.
I’ve tried to include where you can (legally) find the film online but if you can contribute additional online sources for these films, please share them in the comments.
Black./Womyn: Conversations with Lesbians of African Descent
Fiona: As an artist, not working in either a corporate environment or an environment where I have to work with other people makes it easier for me to be who I am. I don’t have to say, “oh I have to balance being a woman, with being black, with being queer, with being an immigrant. I’m just all those things all the time.”
This incredible feature length documentary shares the lives and views from various black lesbians on their sexuality, media representation, patriarchy, homophobia, and activism; inspiring honest and progressive conversations and highlighting how black lesbians are viewed, ignored, and affected by society.
Director Tiona McClodden had conversations with almost 50 out, black, lesbians including Filmmaker/Activist Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Hip-Hop Duo KIN, and Author Fiona Zedde.
Set it Off
Cleo: That’s what we need to do, rob a bank.
Stoney: That’s stupid; ain’t nobody over here gonna be robbing no bank.
Cleo: We’re gonna end up dead anyway.
This film centers around Cleopatra ‘Cleo’ Sims (Queen Latifah), and her friends Stoney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Frankie (Vivica A. Fox) and T.T (Kimberly Elise) as they plot to go on a bank-robbing spree for four very different reasons. What starts off as a crazy ‘what if’, quickly escalates into murder.
Will they get caught? Whose life is in danger? Will any of them escape?
I Can’t Think Straight
Layla: Have you ever done this before?
Tala: Slept with a woman while my fiancé makes wedding preparations?
This beautiful film features a Palestinian woman, Tala (Lisa Ray), who is currently on her fourth engagement to a man (for some reason the first three just didn’t stick) when she meets her best friend’s girlfriend and emerging writer Layla (Sheetal Sheth).
The two begin an affair and Tala begins to question her sexuality (you see what I mean about those past engagements not working out) but Layla ends the relationship after Tala messes up. Will they end up together or will convention force them apart?
Frida (Amazon Prime)
Tina: Whoever takes the biggest swig [of Tequila] can dance with me.
Frida: *swigs* Shall we?
This biopic of bisexual Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) explores Frida’s life and loves against the political and cultural backdrop of the early 20th Century. Although much of the movie does focus on her dysfunctional relationship with fellow artist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), we do get glimpses of her affairs with lady loves, like Tina (Ashley Judd).
Circumstance (Netflix Canada)
Atefeh: I can’t do this anymore.
Shirin: Nothing has changed. I love you.
This heartbreaking drama tells the story of how hard it is to be LGBT under the Iranian Regime. It’s the story of Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri), a rich teen, and her girlfriend Shireen (Sarah Kazemy), an orphan, who love partying and experimenting with drink and drugs (despite the fact that Atafeh’s brother Mehran’s (Reza Sixo Safai) is an ex-addict).
As the girls grow closer, Atafeh’s family tries to tear them apart and Mehran becomes increasingly religious and becomes obsessed with Shireen.
This movie is actually based on the experiences of director/writer Maryam Keshavarz who grew up in Iran. Because the film dealt with a lesbian storyline, fake scripts sent to the Lebanese authorities and the actors had to accept that they may not be able to see their families after the release. That’s pretty heartbreaking in itself.