From an exploration of gender roles in the black lesbian community it THE SAME DIFFERENCE, to the sensitive male to female transition portrait in Gemini Award-winning GIRL INSIDE, or the remarkable portrayal of Japanese women who live their lives as men in Kim Longinotto’s SHINJUKU BOYS, this extraordinary collection of films offers unique, insightful, and important titles for anyone seeking to better understand gender issues today.

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The Same Difference

THE SAME DIFFERENCE is a compelling documentary about lesbians who discriminate against other lesbians based on gender roles. Director Nneka Onuorah takes an in-depth look at the internalized hetero-normative gender roles that have become all too familiar within the African American lesbian and bisexual community. Onuorah shows how these behaviors reproduce the homophobic oppression and masculine privilege of the straight world, while looking for solutions in compelling discussions with community members. Self-identified studs—and the women who love them—discuss hypocrisy in terms of gender roles, performative expectations, and the silent disciplining that occurs between community members. This film features many queer celebrities, including actress Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from the critically acclaimed HBO drama The Wire, and Lea DeLaria from Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, living daily with opinions about how identity should be portrayed. Onuorah's engaging documentary shines a light on the relationships and experiences within the queer black female community, intersecting race, gender and sexuality. Required viewing for Women’s, Gender and Queer Studies.
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The Revival: Women and the Word

THE REVIVAL: WOMEN AND THE WORD chronicles the US tour of a group of Black lesbian poets and musicians, who become present-day stewards of a historical movement to build community among queer women of color. Their journey to strengthen their community is enriched by insightful interviews with leading Black feminist thinkers and historians, including Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Nikki Finney, and Alexis Deveaux. As the group tours the country, the film reveals their aspirations and triumphs, as well as the unique identity challenges they face encompassing gender, race, and sexuality. This is a rarely seen look into a special sisterhood - one where marginalized voices are both heard and respected.
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The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen

An inspiring film by award winning documentary filmmaker Jennifer Abod, PhD (THE EDGE OF EACH OTHER’S BATTLES: THE VISION OF AUDRE LORDE). THE PASSIONATE PURSUITS provides a window into the life of Angela Bowen who grew up in inner city Boston during the Jim Crow era, and went on to become a classical ballerina, a legendary dance teacher, a black lesbian feminist activist organizer, writer and professor. For six decades Bowen has influenced and inspired untold numbers, speaking out as strongly for the Arts, and Black and Women’s Rights as she has for LGBTQI Rights. Candid, compelling, and inspiring, PASSIONATE PURSUITS depicts Bowen's life across the decades, with archival footage, timeless musical selections, photographs and interviews. Bowen’s stories reveal how the challenges of race, class, gender, age, and sexuality played into her decisions and strategies for survival. PASSIONATE PURSUITS is important to anyone who wants to know more about the experiences and complexities of black women’s lives and the emergence of Black Feminism.
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Orchids: My Intersex Adventure

Gen X filmmaker Phoebe Hart always knew she was different growing up – but she didn’t know why. This award-winning documentary traces Phoebe’s voyage of self-discovery as an intersex person, a group of conditions formerly termed hermaphroditism. Learning only in her teens that she was born with 46XY (male) chromosomes, Hart now seeks to understand her own story and the stories of others affected by this complex and often shameful syndrome. With help from sister Bonnie (born with the same condition) and support from partner James, Hart drives across Australia, interviewing individuals whose struggles and victories mirror and differ from her own. Some advocate systemic change ending shame and controversial genital surgeries, while others debate coming out or staying closeted with a stigmatized secret. Questioning rigidly defined constructs of gender, sexuality, and normality, often with lively good humor, ORCHIDS is the first film to look at intersex from a positive perspective. Its engaging portrait of survival, courage and reconciliation will speak to a variety of audiences and spark lively discussion about what it means to be perceived as "different."
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Boy I Am

An important exploration of issues rarely touched upon by most films portraying female-to-male (FTM) transgender experiences, this feature-length documentary sets itself apart from other recent films on this topic. Tackling the resistance of some women in feminist and lesbian communities who view FTM transitioning as at best a "trend" or at worst an anti-feminist act that taps into male privilege, this groundbreaking film opens up a dialog between the lesbian, feminist, and transgender communities while also promoting understanding of transgender issues for general audiences. In the course of the film, three young transitioning FTMs in New York City- Nicco, Norie and Keegan- go through major junctures in their transitions, discussing everything from their relationships with their bodies, feminism, and the intersection of race and class with their transgender identity. Their stories are interspersed with interviews with lesbians, activists and theorists who engage with the often-contentious questions and issues that are raised within the queer and feminist communities but are rarely discussed openly. Situating these struggles and stories as inextricably linked to queer and feminist struggles, BOY I AM presents an empowering chronicle of queer resistance that challenges all viewers to rethink their concepts of activism and identity.
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A Boy Named Sue

Julie Wyman's compelling documentary chronicles the transformation of a transsexual named Theo from a woman to a man over the course of six years. The film successfully captures Theo's physiological and psychological changes during the process, as well as their effects on his lesbian lover and community of close friends. Taking full advantage of the unlimited access she received into an extraordinarily personal process, Wyman carefully composes a moving story about gender identity, relationships, and how even things that seem permanent can change. "A BOY NAMED SUE is one of the best videos to date on female-to-male transsexual experience. Wyman spent six years taping Sue's transformation into Theo and then organized a huge archive of material into a moving, informative and smart rendering of what a difference sex reassignment surgeries can make not only to the transsexual himself but also to all those in his immediate circle. Theo is a great subject and Wyman is a talented and imaginative documentarian. If you are looking for a sensitive and sophisticated representation of transsexual experience, look no further." Judith Halberstam, University of California, San Diego
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Deep Run

Executive produced by Susan Sarandon, DEEP RUN is a powerful verité portrait of trans life in rural North Carolina. Exiled by her family and rejected by an ex-partner, 17-year-old Spazz has no one to lean on for support. But when Spazz falls in love again and summons up the courage to become Cole, a strong-willed trans-man, his candid humor and steadfast, all-inclusive Christian beliefs counter the bigotry he experiences daily. This deeply personal documentary reveals rebirth and courage within America’s deeply conservative Bible Belt as Cole struggles to find a church that will affirm his identity and the couple's relationship. With a small group of supportive friends, relatives, and his girlfriend, Ashley, Cole's search for love and belonging leads him to a radical revision of what faith and church can be. An intimate study of young outsiders in an insular Christian community, DEEP RUN explores the intersection of modern identity and faith in the American South. Essential viewing for LGBTQIA Audiences, Queer and Gender studies classes.
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Dream Girls

This fascinating documentary, produced for the BBC, opens a door into the spectacular world of the Takarazuka Revue, a highly successful musical theater company in Japan. Each year, thousands of girls apply to enter the male-run Takarazuka Music School. The few who are accepted endure years of a highly disciplined and reclusive existence before they can join the Revue, choosing male or female roles. DREAM GIRLS offers a compelling insight into gender and sexual identity and the contradictions experienced by Japanese women today.
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Girl Inside

Following 26-year-old Madison during a crucial three years of her transition, GIRL INSIDE is a beautiful film that tracks her emotional, intellectual and spiritual journey of self-discovery that is as important as – if not more than – the physical journey of hormones and surgery. Sharing the spotlight is Vivien, Madison’s glamorous 80-year-old grandmother, who has taken on the job of advising her on all things feminine. While Vivien's attempts to school Madison in old-fashioned codes of fashion and behavior are often hilarious, the juxtaposition of two vastly different experiences of womanhood, from very different generations, raises profound issues about the nature of gender, femininity and sexuality. Sometimes funny, sometimes painful, this heartwarming coming of age story is both an intimate portrait and a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be a woman. Recommended for courses in transgender and queer studies, gender studies, women’s studies and sociology.
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Lesbiana: A Parallel Revolution

A parallel, lesbian-feminist revolution was born out of the women’s and civil rights movements of the 60’s and 70’s. Filmmaker Myriam Fougère’s takes us on a road trip through the United States and Canada as she revisits the activists of the time who sparked this revolution to define their own culture. As active second-wave feminists, many lesbian women began to recognize that their sexual identity was not acknowledged or embraced by the traditional women’s movement. These artists, musicians, philosophers, and writers sought to establish communities centered exclusively on women where patriarchy simply did not exist. Women-only communities began to flourish in North America and around the world, resulting in a rich and vibrant culture that inspired important lesbian art, literature, and music. Told through photographs, archival footage, and contemporary interviews, Fougère’s film serves not only as a testament to the politics of the era, but also as a living yearbook and virtual reunion of these remarkable women, who laid the groundwork for generations to come.
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Lives: Visible/Leftovers

Lesbians in a box…two thousand private snapshots hidden away for over fifty years reveal the rich history of Chicago’s working class butch/fem life in the pre-Stonewall era.
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Outlaw

Leslie Feinberg, a self-identified "gender outlaw" who has spent much of zir life passing as a man, speaks with passion and intelligence about zir experiences in this film manifesto. Raw and confrontational, this film asks its audience to examine their assumptions about the "nature" of gender and calls for more sensitivity and awareness of the human rights and the dignity of transgendered people. Feinberg is the author of STONE BUTCH BLUES (Firebrand), an account of a working-class lesbian who passes as a man.
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Searching 4 Sandeep

Single, frustrated, and lonely in the middle of Sydney’s thriving gay community, director Poppy Stockell decides to “research” a light-hearted look at the lesbian Internet-dating scene. To her surprise and delight, she forges a deep online connection with an English woman, Sandeep Virdi. When their innocent flirtation turns into true attachment, Poppy sends Sandeep a camcorder and viewers watch as Poppy and Sandeep’s virtual relationship blooms into a poignant love complicated by the reality that Sandeep is Sikh, lives at home with her conservative family, and has kept her sexuality a secret. Humorous and thoughtful, Searching 4 Sandeep explores the collision of love and ethnic, religious, and sexual identity. Filmmaker Stockell raises serious questions about a new kind of global romance at odds with the cultural, social, and geographical distances between people. Will Sandeep’s family overcome their homophobia? Will the star-crossed lovers surmount the obstacles separating them? Through raw, incredibly frank footage, Searching 4 Sandeep follows the couple’s tumultuous relationship across two years, and three continents, in a touching examination of sexuality, religion, globalization, and culture seen through the lens of this uniquely modern love story.
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Shinjuku Boys

From the makers of DREAM GIRLS, SHINJUKU BOYS introduces three onnabes who work as hosts at the New Marilyn Club in Tokyo. Onnabes are women who live as men and have girlfriends, although they don't usually identify as lesbians. As the film follows them at home and on the job, all three talk frankly to the camera about their gender-bending lives, revealing their views about women, sex, transvestitism and lesbianism. Alternating with these illuminating interviews are fabulous sequences shot inside the Club, patronized almost exclusively by heterosexual women who have become disappointed with real men. This is a remarkable documentary about the complexity of female sexuality in Japan today.
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Storme

“It ain’t easy…being green” is the favorite expression of Storme DeLarverie, a woman whose life flouted prescriptions of gender and race. During the 1950’s and 60’s she toured the black theater circuit as a mistress of ceremonies and the sole male impersonator of the legendary Jewel Box Revue, America’s first integrated female impersonation show and forerunner of La Cage aux Folles. The multiracial revue was a favorite act of the Black theater circuit and attracted mixed mainstream audiences from the 1940s through the 1960s, a time marked by the violence of segregation. Parkerson finds Storme in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, now working as a bodyguard at a women’s bar and still singing in her deep silky voice with an “all girl” band. Through archival clips from the past, STORME looks back on the grandeur of the Jewel Box Revue and its celebration of pure entertainment in the face of homophobia and segregation. Storme herself emerges as a remarkable woman, who came up during hard times but always “kept a touch of class.”
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