New This Week – 7/23/21

DJs, dancers, a party producer and an adult entertainer – take us on a wild ride through the inner workings of the New York City gay dance party subculture. Explore the eponymous “circuit” parties as the cast juggle career, love and the thrilling events themselves until a global pandemic and a series of unfortunate decisions turns their world on its head. ‘The Circuit’ is available now on Dekkoo!

“Who’s on Top?” (narrated by George Takei) is the emotional story of members of the LGBTQ community who challenge stereotypes about gender and sexuality and demonstrate their diverse journeys in overcoming physical and figurative mountains. Stream ‘Who’s On Top?” now on Dekkoo!

After emigrating from Israel, Noam, a young transgender artist, is now happily living in New York with an older woman, but things change when an old friend from Tel Aviv comes to town for a visit. ‘The Friend From Tel Aviv” is now available on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: Love sick and longing in Hong Kong.

Drag Race star Jamal Sims directs the electric new dance documentary When the Beat Drops

The new dance documentary When the Beat Drops invites you to drop into the electric and subversive underground dance scene known as bucking.

As voguing exploded out of the ballroom scene of NYC, bucking was boldly pioneered in the clubs of the Deep South as a new form of self-expression.

When the Beat Drops presents a fresh glimpse into the magnetic artistry and flair behind this emerging dance culture.

In his feature debut, famed choreographer and filmmaker Jamal Sims – who has worked with the likes of Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, and appeared countless times as a judge and choreographer on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” – illuminates the warm-hearted and fierce queer black performers who make up one of the leading “bucking” groups in the city of Atlanta.

As they train for their biggest competition yet, they face the risk of losing their jobs and family to compete at the top levels of this dance scene.

Jamal Sims calls dance a “super power,” and with this film he crafts a vision of the power of dance to bring movement to new heights and elevate the queer community.

Watch the trailer for When the Beat Drops below. The film is available now on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 6/18/21

When Annamaria, a longtime friend of Alessandro and Arturo, ask the couple to take care of her children, the relationship between the two men reaches a point of no return. ‘The Goddess of Fortune’ is available to stream on Dekkoo!

‘Brothers’ follows a Muslim Arab boy who realizes he is different, and is fortunate to have an older brother who stands by him and encourages him to be himself, in the face of bias and adversity. ‘Brothers’ is now streaming on Dekkoo!

In the wake of the Birmingham protests against LGBTQ+ relationship education in primary schools, a team of queer community reporters of colour challenge homophobia and call out racism in LGBTQ+ spaces. Watch ‘Pride & Protest’ now on Dekkoo!

Desperate for connection and longing for a fresh way to find it, Bruce decides to explore his trusted dating app with a unique search for a new mate. Watch ‘Huckleberry’ now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: The Dekkoo-original series ‘Here Comes Your Man’.

New This Week – 6/11/21

Jacques is an older writer from Paris. Arthur is a young student in Rennes. They instantly fall in love. But they’ll have to face rejection and sickness to keep it that way. ‘Sorry Angel’ is available to watch now on Dekkoo!

Produced in 1967, this amazing 22-minute short film introduces us to four transwomen who are subjected to a six-month psychological project and then grilled about their personal lives. This unique exploitation documentary offers a rare and provocative glimpse into pre-Stonewall queer life. ‘Queens At Heart’ is available now on Dekkoo!

Don’t miss: LGBT Film Archivist and Historian Jenni Olson on Queens at Heart

Knowing your queer history is essential, and the award-winning ‘When The Beat Drops’ offers an immersive deep-dive inside the growing culture of bucking—an energetic, hyper-athletic, dance phenomenon cultivated by queer people of color in the Deep South. Watch ‘When the Beat Drops’ on Dekkoo!

Jesse, a mixed race transgender teen, arrives from Switzerland for a cross-country road trip with her estranged father Marcus. They strike a weighty deal, one with serious repercussions for their relationship and their trip. ‘Jesse’ is now playing on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: Arturo and Alessandro have been a couple for 15 years. When their friend leaves her children in their care, their tired routine is turned upside down.

LGBT Film Archivist and Historian Jenni Olson on Queens at Heart

For contemporary LGBT viewers, Queens at Heart offers a vivid and compelling lens on how far we have come as a movement while also giving a deep (and wildly entertaining) understanding of what it was like to be transgender at a very different time in history. There are very few filmed images by or about LGBT people before the Stonewall Riots of 1969. There were especially few portrayals of trans lives and experience in this era. The two other films that come to mind from this period are: the remarkable feature documentary, The Queen (1968) and the short documentary portrait of an African American trans woman, Behind Every Good Man (1967). (While the 1970 dramatic feature, The Christine Jorgenson Story is at least somewhat well intended, it primarily comes across as lurid and sensationalist.)

Produced in New York City in 1967, this amazing 22-minute short introduces us to Misty, Vicky, Sonya and Simone — four courageous trans women who candidly discuss their personal lives with a lurid male interviewer who claims to have spoken to “thousands of homosexuals” (and who clearly doesn’t understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity). The film offers an extremely rare and poignant glimpse into pre-Stonewall queer life as it takes us to a New York City drag ball and follows the women through their daily lives. They talk about their double-lives — going out as women at night but living as men during the day, and about how they take hormones and dream of “going for a change.” One talks about avoiding the draft, another about her fiancé and another about the torment of childhood as an effeminate youth.

“We know that homosexuality is a psychological aberration that should be treated,” proclaims the interviewer as the film ends. Shifting to a surprisingly sympathetic tone he then concludes with the provocative challenge, “but what about those who don’t want to change? Who are we to judge?” This flip-flop perfectly encapsulates the film’s schizophrenic combination of attitudes as it alternates between luridness and validation, judgment and empathy.

Of course it is extremely significant for us to be able to look back and see this rare portrait of four wonderful trans women being so candid and courageous in the years before Stonewall. Queens at Heart is especially remarkable for how candid and brave the women are in expressing themselves so vulnerably when we can tell that the film was produced more as an exploitation film than as a serious documentary.

As a film historian and archivist I’ve unearthed many films over the years. Queens at Heart is the most significant on every level. It is a film that had been essentially lost to us — with nothing having previously been written about it in LGBT film literature. As a glimpse at pre-Stonewall queer life it is remarkable: from the wonderful footage of the drag balls and gay men dancing together to the provocative interviews with transgender women which are truly jaw-dropping in their candor. The power of this film for bringing us face to face with our forebears (and queer life in 1967) is absolutely incredible, and the film is of even greater interest in this era of increased trans awareness and activism.

Queens at Heart is a tremendously valuable archival portrait of pre-Stonewall trans women — their candor and courage are a true gift and this is a must-see film for anyone interested in transgender history.

About Jenni Olson:
Jenni Olson is an LGBT film historian, archivist and filmmaker based in Berkeley, California. Her work as a film historian includes the Lambda Award nominated The Queer Movie Poster Book (Chronicle Books, 2005) and her many vintage movie trailer presentations (Homo Promo, Trailer Camp, etc.). She is on the Advisory Board of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project for LGBT Moving Image Preservation.

Meet the men behind some of the world’s hottest gay comics in the one-hour doc Drawn This Way

Drawn This Way is a one-hour documentary which dives into the pages of gay comic book characters and their creators.

In the studio, in the comic book shops, at the fan-crazed conventions and at home with the artists, author-actor-producer-director Charlie David finds out what it means to be a “Doorq,” how to come out of the closet as a HGN (hot gay nerd) and where our drawn adventures will take us next.

When did all this “g(art)” start? Is it a sexual turn-on? How did the artists get their start? What do their families and friends think? Is it pornography? Why the obsession with these fantastical stories and characters? Are they taken seriously in the mainstream comic world? All these questions and more are answered in this frank and fascinating new doc.

Watch the trailer for Drawn This Way below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 5/21/21

Having moved to Paris for university, Leevi returns to his native Finland for the summer to help his estranged father renovate the family lake house so it can be sold. Tareq, a recent asylum seeker from Syria, has been hired to help with the work, and when Leevi’s father has to return to town on business, the two young men establish a connection and spend a few days discovering one another during the Finnish midsummer. ‘Moment in the Reeds’ is available to stream now on Dekkoo!

At the age of 21, Nicolás decides to get his first HIV test. The uncertainty about the disease will affect the relationship with his family and his sexual life during the weekend he awaits the results. Stream ‘The Grey Zones’ on Dekkoo!

From Tom of Finland to Bugs Bunny in a dress – animation has been a place where artists can unleash and explore their sexuality. When did all this g(art) start? Is it a sexual turn-on? How did the artists get their start? ‘Drawn This Way’ is now playing on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: Twin 18-year-olds hitchhike to their mother’s funeral in Spain. The journey changes their lives forever.

Take a trip through Queer Japan from the comfort of your own home

In this new documentary, trailblazing artists, activists, and everyday people from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality defy social norms and dare to shine in this kaleidoscopic view of LGBTQ+ culture in contemporary Japan.

From glossy pride parades to playfully perverse underground parties, Queer Japan pictures people living brazenly unconventional lives in the sunlight, the shadows, and everywhere in between.

Dazzling, iconoclastic drag queen Vivienne Sato peels back the layers of language and identity. Maverick manga artist Gengoroh Tagame tours the world with his unapologetically erotic gay comics. Councilwoman Aya Kamikawa recounts her rocky path to becoming the first transgender elected official in Japan. At the legendary kink-positive hentai party Department H, non-binary performance artist Saeborg uses rubber to create a second skin.

Culled from 100+ interviews conducted over three years in locations across the entire country, Queer Japan features dozens of individuals sharing their experiences in their own words. Get to know a vibrant and inspiring group of human beings in a country with a unique history of queer expression.

Watch the trailer for Queer Japan below. The film is available now on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 5/14/21

Lukas is a prisoner in his own body. As a pre-op transgendered person, he is constantly finding himself trapped in uncomfortable, compromising positions. His best friend, Ine introduces him to the gay scene in Cologne where he meets the confident and gorgeous, Fabio. ‘Romeos’ is available to stream now on Dekkoo!

When a happily married couple go on a routine staycation, the wife demonstrates that she knows her husband better than he knows himself. ‘More Than He Knows’ is available now on Dekkoo!

Trailblazing artists, activists, and everyday people from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality defy social norms and dare to live unconventional lives in this kaleidoscopic view of LGBTQ+ culture in contemporary Japan. Stream ‘Queer Japan’ now on Dekkoo!

Leo had never imagined he would see his Dad kissing another man in the middle of a party – Until it happened. Now, with the help of Carol, his best friend, he has to find the most perfect way to tell his Dad that he found out about his secret. Watch ‘After That Party’ now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week – A prodigal son and a Syrian refugee are thrown together in the Finnish countryside in this spare, intense gay romance. – Variety

A touching family bond is explored in the new documentary Madame

The touching new documentary Madame is a double portrait of a young boy slowly coming out of the closet and of the lady that was, even more than his own mother, the woman of his life – his grandmother.

Based on private archival footage, Madame takes us onto an intimate journey where Caroline, a flamboyant 90-year-old grandmother and her filmmaker grandson Stéphane explore the development and transmission of gender identity in a patriarchal environment.

Promised to a domestic life in the 1920s, Caroline manages to free herself from the clutches of a forced marriage and becomes a successful businesswoman, defying the social rules of her time.

In parallel, Stéphane struggles to play the role everyone expects in his Swiss bourgeois family, until the day he comes out of the closet and sets off on a crusade against homophobia and sexism.

Watch the trailer for Madame below. The film is available now on Dekkoo.