Barbican Cinema Curator Alex Davidson picks five films showing queer protest at its best for Pride


In the week when London Pride would normally take place and the cinema programme would usually be celebrating queer cinema from around the world, Barbican Cinema Curator Alex Davidson has selected five films, all available to view online, showing queer protest at its very best.

The fight for queer rights is as urgent as ever and film continues to be a vital medium through which to document the LGBTQ+ protests of the past, and push for greater rights in the present.

The Black Lives Matter protests have united people against systematic racism, inspiring further rallies campaigning for the rights of black transgender people.

Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg’s documentary Before Stonewall (USA 1984) tells the history of queer resistance from the 1920s to the 1969 riots, with insights from Audre Lorde, Allen Ginsberg and more (available on Peccadillo Player).

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The struggle for gay rights in 1980s England is deftly portrayed in Pride (UK/ France 2014, Dir Matthew Warchus) (BFI Player), a moving culture-clash comedy about the gay activists who joined the 1984 miners’ strike in solidarity, and blends humour and the power of protest.

In Breaking Free (India 2015, Dir Sridhar Rangayan) (Netflix), queer activists across India rally against Section 377, a law introduced during the colonial era criminalising same-sex activity. The urgency of protest is also central to 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) (France 2018, Dir Robin Campillo) (Curzon Home Cinema), which pulses with the thrill of dissent and passion, as Parisian activists combat political inaction towards the AIDS crisis.

The documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (USA 2017, Dir David France) (Netflix), pays tribute to the black trans-woman who played a key role in the Stonewall riots and explores the suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely death.

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