As 20GayTeen draws to a close, it’s wonderful to look back knowing it was an incredible year for lesbian love on the big screen. The number of lesbian movies available to us wasn’t the only impressive factor; the originality, compelling representation, and top-notch quality that many of them delivered were also spectacular. From the quiet passion of Disobedience to the authenticity of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, these films were a force to be reckoned with, not to mention that The Favourite has a good chance of making herstory as the first lesbian film to win an Oscar.
This boom of lesbian movies conveys a message that our narratives need to be accessible and told often, as they’re a vital source of courage, liberation, and hope—and besides, you can never have too many women-loving women on the silver screen. Thankfully, it looks like that message will continue, and below are eight upcoming lesbian films carrying the torch in 2019 (or 20DykeTeen, as it’s already been named).
1. Tell It To The Bees
An adaptation of Fiona Shaw’s beloved novel of the same name, this forbidden romance drama directed by Annabel Jankel centers on the connection between a single mother (Holliday Grainger) and the doctor of her young son (Anna Paquin). Set in cold, 1950s Scotland, the narrow-minded views of their town will be challenged when news of their relationship gets out.
There are not many movies out there about lesbian nuns, but Paul Verhoeven’s French-language feature Benedetta could easily be the best one yet. Based on real-life events chronicled in Judith C. Brown’s book Immodest Acts, the erotic drama revolves around Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira), a nun in 17th-century Italy who experiences disturbing visions. When a companion is required in the form of fellow nun Bartolomea Crivelli (Daphne Patakia), a love affair ensues between them.
In Anatol Schuster’s poetic and breathtaking German film, first love blossoms between two 17-year-old girls: the observant, curious Manja (Paula Hüttisch) and rebellious Louk (Lara Feith). Through a complex connection that thrives on truth, idealism, and fearlessness, the two of them learn more about themselves during their journey together, as well as the meaning of letting go.
4. Knife + Heart
Taking place during a 1979 summer in Paris, Knife + Heart follows a gay porn producer named Anne (Vanessa Paradis). When her editor and lover Lois (Kate Moran) breaks up with her, Anne sets out to create her most ambitious film yet in order to win her back. But that journey takes a strange turn when one of her actors is murdered. Featuring an original score by M83, Yann Gonzalez’s thriller has quickly become one of the most-anticipated films among LGBTQ audiences.
5. Baby Jane
Based on Sofi Oksanen’s identically titled novel, this sexually-driven Finnish film helmed by Katja Gauriloff will deliver intrigue and unrestrained desire. After moving to Helsinki, Jane (Roosa Söderholm) finds the excitement she’s looking for in Piki (Maria Ylipää), whom she unexpectedly meets at a gay bar. Together, they embark on an intense romance that opens up both of their worlds.
6. Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
Directed by French auteur Céline Sciamma (known for her 2007 lesbian film Water Lilies), her upcoming fourth feature is a forbidden love story that takes place on the island of Brittany in the mid-1700s. A painter, Marianne (Noémie Merlant), is commissioned to create a wedding portrait of a young woman Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), who is reluctant to get married. Intimacy and attraction eventually grow between the two women during their time together.
7. The Heiresses
This Paraguayan drama from Marcelo Martinessi captures a story that has never been told before. After Chiquita (Margarita Irun) is imprisoned on fraud charges, her partner of over 30 years, Chela (Ana Brun), has no choice but to begin anew. Along the way, Chela forms an intimate connection with a younger woman Angy (Ana Ivanova), resulting in a newfound confidence and deeper appreciation of life.
8. Wild Nights With Emily
Madeleine Olnek’s biographical comedy examines a lesser-known aspect of Emily Dickinson’s life: her relationship with another woman. Wild Nights with Emily aims to prove that the famous poet (brought to life by Molly Shannon) wasn’t the recluse that everyone thought she was.
9. Vita & Virginia
Thanks to director Chanya Button and writer Eileen Atkins (who created the original play of the same name), one of the most celebrated love stories in sapphic herstory is getting the cinematic treatment. Centering on the passionate 1920s romance between aristocrat Vita Sackville-West and literary icon Virginia Woolf, their connection not only inspires unique creativity but also allows them to find solace.
Which upcoming lesbian film are you most looking forward to in 2019? Let us know in the comments!