Now Available: II

A group of Belarusian students look for their place in life in II, a fast-paced coming-of-age drama from breakout director Vlada Senkova.

Like many Belarussians, Nastya and Sasha want to study in the European Union. They’re taking Polish language lessons after school to further their studies. Meanwhile, their friend Khristina is primarily interested in sex with her new flame.

Unfortunately, they never use a condom. As a result, Khristina is forever terrified of finding out that she’s pregnant. Fortunately, Nastya is always by her side – and even agrees to take an HIV test with her in order to allay her fears.

The result of the test, however, tears her life apart in unforeseen ways. At every level, a campaign of persecution is set in motion – fueled by a mixture of ignorance, lack of education and fear of the unknown.

Shot over only six days, II had originally been planned as a short film, but the themes grew so large that the running time increased as well. The film has earned rave reviews and provoked deep discussion at film festivals all around the world.

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

Short Film Spotlight: Jesse

Jesse (Mercedes Torres) is s mixed-race transgender teen, arrives from Switzerland for a cross-country road trip with her estranged father Marcus (Stephen Hill).

As Marcus struggles to understand his daughter, and Jesse finds her deep desire to be understood, accepted and loved by him growing. This leads the two to strike up an unusual and weighty agreement, one with serious repercussions for their relationship and their trip.

Written and directed by Swiss filmmaker Vinz Feller, Jesse won the Bronze Award for Best LGBTQ Short at the Independent Shorts Awards. The film was also chosen as an Official Selection at both the LA Queer Film Fest and OutFest Los Angeles.

Watch the trailer for Jesse below. The full 15-minute short film is available now on Dekkoo.

The Short Films of Miguel Lafuente

Up-and-coming queer director Miguel Lafuente was born in Madrid. After studying film in the United States, Lafuente returned to Spain to start his own production company to produce queer cinema and music videos. These three short films explore dating, romance, and family dynamics.

Guillermo on the Roof follows an attractive young man (Javier Amann) who tries to fix his romantic life by making a film about it. Through the process, he will discover another reality through Samir (Anuar Beno), a Syrian refugee, who will make him realize the true superficial nature of his issues.

In Mario, Kike and David, two men (Almagro San Miguel and Gustavo Rojo) hook up after meeting on a dating app. What initially was never meant to be more than a one-night stand will turn into something else, in spite of their different ways of viewing their bisexuality – and how they both cope with it in their respective social circles.

In the final short of the bunch, My Brother, A family tragedy forces Alberto (Álvaro de Juan) to come back to his oppressive hometown in Spain from Berlin, where he has a free life working as comic illustrator.

Take a deep dive into The Short Films of Miguel Lafuente – now available on Dekkoo.

George Takei narrates the feel-good mountaineering doc Who’s on Top

Who’s on Top is a new feature-length documentary which shines a spotlight on members of the LGBTQ community – including those with a range of mountaineering experience – who challenge stereotypes about gender and sexuality in the outdoor arena.

Historically excluded and ostracized as not belonging to the natural domain, the climbers will tackle not only a mountain, but assumptions about who they are and how they belong to the world of outdoor adventure.

Narrated by George Takei, Who’s on Top portrays a journey like no other, a never-before-told story about what makes LGBTQ folks both distinct and connected, facing physical, mental and societal obstacles.

Watch the trailer for Who’s on Top below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

Now Available: The Circuit

The Circuit is a new digital series that explores the underground circuit community through the personal lives of different players within the scene.

The cast of The Circuit – 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.

Featuring Nina Flowers, Sam Gee, Joe Pacheco, Jake Resnicow, Dan De Leon, Alec Brian, Ian Frost, Shane Jackson, Shane Marcus, Manuel Skye, Ugene, Trey Sherman, Darius Glover and more, The Circuit offers a frank look at a thrilling LGBTQ+ subculture.

Watch the trailer for The Circuit below. The first season is now available on Dekkoo.

Short Film Spotlight: Brothers

Winner of ten different jury and audience awards at various film festivals, the new short film Brothers follows a Muslim Arab boy who realizes he is different. Fortunately, he has an older brother who stands by him and encourages him to always be himself, even in the face of bias and adversity.

Written and directed by Mike Mosallam, the acclaimed filmmaker behind the series All-American Muslim and the recent gay romantic comedy hit Breaking Fast, this short film aims to shed light on LGBTQ+ oppression in a familial, religious space that has yet to be portrayed on screen.

Watch the official teaser trailer for Brothers below. The film is available now on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 6/25/21

In this new Dekkoo-original series two very different young men come together in an episodic series that follows their relationship – from beginning to end. ‘Here Comes Your Man’ is available to stream now on Dekkoo!

Two drag queens move through the city on a night of debauchery, insight, and revenge. ‘Cherry Cola’ is available now on Dekkoo!

Elena goes home for her father’s funeral. Everything is just as she remembered, but will her family pressure her to be like they remember? Stream ‘The Guest’ now on Dekkoo!

Childhood friends Andreas and Alessandro, now grown college students, live in different cities. The pair have reunited at a seaside resort for the summer. As the summer starts coming to a close, Andreas realizes he must make a move to let Alessandro know how he really feels. Watch ‘It’s Just In My Head’ 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.