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10 Nations, 10 Gay Films

Representational Image from Pixabay. Just a guy dancing.

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Since it’s pride month, here’s a little list of 10 gay films from 10 different countries that are worth watching. These are the first ten that came to my mind from the hundreds of LGBT films I’ve seen. Also, I tried to pick non-tragic, feel-good films, so all of them have happy endings. Almost.

  1. Jongens (Boys) – Netherlands

This 2014 film has to be one of the sweetest coming of age films ever made. It’s a laid-back movie that centers around 15-year-old Sieger, an athlete who finds himself falling in love with a fellow athlete over the summer.

First there is confusion, then the pangs of first love, then denial and finally the sweet music of acceptance. Watch it. Watch it. Watch it.

2. Maurice – United Kingdom

Before the 1999 film ‘Notting Hill’ came along and made Hugh Grant a worldwide heartthrob of sorts, he starred in the ground-breaking ‘Maurice’, a film that came out in 1987. Too early to be truly appreciated.

I have always had a huge crush on Grant and was pleasantly surprised to see him play a closeted gay barrister in the Edwardian era. Being a homosexual was a punishable crime at the time, with devastating repercussions. James Wilby stars as Maurice, a stockbroker, who is torn about his sexuality after his lover (played by Grant) ends their romantic relationship for a cosy-married life. But love knocks at his door again, forcing him to re-evaluate his way of living.

3. Les Chansons d’amour (Love Songs) – France

This French musical doesn’t have very high ratings, but for some reason, I really like it. It has the handsome Louis Garrel in the lead, who is in a complicated relationship with his girlfriend. I will be honest, I had watched this film only because of him and had no idea it had any sort of LGBT themes.

Set in Paris, the protagonists constantly break into romantic songs in their dream-like city. All the songs are written in a way that help carry the story forward. The pace is slightly slow but the story is earnest and believable, with a happy climax. I love the line it ends with – ‘love me less, but love me for a long time’. Something like that. While I saw this 2007 film long long ago, I still listen to some of its songs.

4. Alex Strangelove – U.S

Most people would probably prefer putting a movie like ‘Love, Simon’ on a list like this. But for me, Alex Strangelove was more memorable. But both movies are sweet coming of age films, with the protagonists trying to accept their sexuality.

‘Alex Strangelove’ however is more fun, has cuter teen characters and perhaps stronger friendships. They are a bunch of really nice kids, unlike the usual assholes most teen dramas tend to have. There is no vicious bullying or toxic homophobia either.

5. The Way He Looks – Brazil

So I am one of those people who had first seen the short film version of this movie, which was absolutely adorable. Fans literally made a petition for a longer movie and then got one.

‘The Way He Looks’ is a beautiful film about a visually challenged teenager trying to survive high school. The emphasis is on friendships, first-love and idyllic summers.

6. Doukyuusei (Classmates) – Japan

How could I not pick an animated film from Japan to feature on a movie list? This 2016 film has a unique water-paint style, making it very dreamy and beautiful. It’s about how two teen boys, one a class topper and the other a popular member of a boy-band, fall in love.

While there is nothing special about the story-line, the makers manage to make it a memorable watch because of the way it is made. The lead characters are lovable and make the viewers root for them.

7. Center of my World – Germany

I was slightly confused about including this 2016 film on the list, because it doesn’t have a conventional ‘happy ending’ and is filled with dark themes. It explores family conflicts, mental health issues and alienation. Maybe the director tried achieving a little too much and ended making a bit of a muddle. But it’s still a good one time watch.

The story largely focuses on Phil, who crushes on his classmate Nicholas. Things surprisingly change for him when the good-looking athlete indicates his feelings are not one-sided. But soon, Phil would realize that relationships are never easy.

8. Happy Together – Hong Kong/China

This 1997 Hong Kong film was way ahead of its time. You will probably love the no-nonsense approach it has towards the gay lead couple. There is no ‘confusion’ or ‘coming out’ conflicts here. The two heroes are already passionately in love, right from the first frame.

The plot here focuses on the highs and lows of being in an adult relationship, especially when both individuals are bull-headed men with their own set of problems. Again, despite its title, the movie doesn’t really have a ‘happy ending’. But is definitely an essential LGBT film that demands to be seen.

I saw this movie so long ago, but still remember the end.

9. Fathers – Thailand

Thailand has become a boss-nation of LGBT media. Those guys keep churning out one gay series after another. Only problem is – they largely pander to teen girls who are obsessed with the concept of ‘boys love’. Just like how straight men tend to obsess over lesbians.

So ‘Fathers’, a 2016 drama about a gay couple raising an adopted son, is a breath of fresh air. It’s a lovely movie about the challenges gay couples face when they are bringing up an adopted child.

10. Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan – India

I thought I should end the list with a Bollywood film. ‘Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan’ is a big budget gay romantic-comedy, the first of its kind made in India. While the movie has a lot of exaggerations for comic relief, it’s a fun movie that you would like to see on a Friday night.

The story centers around Aman, whose father accidentally finds out about him and his boyfriend. The rest of the movie attempts to tackle the unreasonable homophobia that plagues most Indian families. Best part – the boys are accepted for who they are.

And that’s a wrap on the list.

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