Virtual screenings and collaborative showings with partner organizations across the country allowed home audiences to enjoy Sundance Film Festival’s elevated and celebrated independent films – for $15 a pop streaming via Sundance’s online portal – that this year included 14 queer-inclusive entries. From dramatic narratives and documentaries to shorts and a touch of terror, here’s what to watch wherever they’re distributed after the festival’s proverbial curtains have closed.
Trans actress Patti Harrison stars as adrift young loner Anna who’s hired as a surrogate for 40-something single man Matt, played by Ed Helms, in this dramedy about the unconventional, non-romantic relationship that the pair develops. Bleecker Street purchased “Together Together” late last year, making it one of few Sundance films to secure distribution ahead of the virtual festival. Tig Notaro co-stars.
At the Ready
In El Paso, Texas, 10 miles from the Mexico border, students enroll in law-enforcement classes and participate in extra-curricular activities, like the criminal justice club. But as this Maisie Crow-directed doc details, future careers in border patrol, policing, and customs enforcement clash with the values and people the Mexican-American students in the program hold dear.
Based on Nella Larsen’s same-name novel, “Passing” stars Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson as mixed-race childhood friends who both can “pass” as white but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York, becoming obsessed with one another’s lives. André Holland (“Moonlight”), Alexander Skarsgard and Bill Camp also star in this Forest Whitaker-produced drama.
Set in Brazil, where a trans person is murdered every three days, Marilene searches for her missing trans daughter Roberta before time runs out.
Danish filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen presented his animated documentary “Flee,” about an Afghan refugee named Amin who arrives in Denmark as an unaccompanied minor only to become a successful academic as an adult. Ready to marry his long-time boyfriend, Amin rises above all odds in this poignant tale of survival and love conquering all.
The Most Beautiful Boy in the World
Fifty years ago, Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti declared Björn Andresén, star of his 1971 film “Death in Venice,” “The Most Beautiful Boy in the World,” thrusting the then 15-year-old into overnight international stardom. Andresén looks back on the past half-century of his life in this documentary directed by Swedish filmmakers Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri.
Ma Belle, My Beauty
First-time filmmaker Marion Hill tackles the oft-complicated particulars of polyamory in this narrative about newlyweds whose fresh start is interrupted by an unexpected visit from the couple’s quirky ex.
Competing for a documentary prize is “Ailey,” directed by Jamila Wignot and told by the namesake visionary artist himself through audio recordings and public interviews recorded before his death in 1989. The film is a deep dive into the prolific performer’s life, from Alvin’s Texas childhood to modest beginnings in Los Angeles to his eventual move to New York City, where he established the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
My Name is Pauli Murray
Through never-before-seen footage and audio recordings, directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen introduce Black non-binary legal trailblazer Pauli Murray, whose progressive ideas influenced our country’s greatest court battles, including the late RBG’s fight for gender equality and Thurgood Marshall’s civil-rights arguments.
The World to Come
In this 19th-century period piece from director Mona Fastvold, two married women find solace – and eventually intimacy – in each other’s company as their respective home lives on the frontier deteriorates. Vanessa Kirby and Katherine Waterston star alongside Casey Affleck and Christopher Abbott.
This Is The Way We Rise
You can catch this short, about poet-activist Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, and her continued work toward justice for Hawaiian natives, directed by Ciara Lacy, under the American Masters banner on PBS online.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
There’s not much pre-premiere information on this American drama directed by non-binary filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun, but if the mystery premise of a teenager documenting the changes she experiences after participating in an online role-playing horror game piques your interest, this film, scored by Alex G, is for you.
4 Feet High
Collaborators from Argentina and France have created a virtual-reality experience for viewers of this film about a wheelchair-confined teenager eager to explore her sexuality despite dealing with body dysmorphia.
After experiencing a traumatic incident involving a same-sex partner that sent her to the psych ward, Molly moves into a new apartment where she can’t escape the haunting knocking sounds that her neighbors don’t hear.