The Best and Most Anticipated LGBTQ Films of Fall 2021

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday September 4, 2021
Originally published on September 2, 2021

A still from "Mascarpone"
A still from "Mascarpone"  (Source:Dark Star Pictures)

Fall is always the most exciting season for cinema lovers, since it signals the beginning of all the major film festivals (Venice, Toronto, New York, Telluride) and the start of Awards Season, which often yields the movies we will go on to remember.

For queer-themed films, the festival circuit is year-round, and there are now more festivals than films (okay, I jest, but there are many), but that doesn't mean the crop of LGBTQ+ films running the fest route is of lesser quality — quite the contrary.

We have a host of exciting films opening this Fall via streaming, theatrical releases, and major festivals.

Below is a list of 10 of the best and most anticipated films with trailers (if available).

"Benediction"

"Benediction"

Terence Davies' exquisite cinematic poem "Benediction" is a biopic of the 20th century English poet Siegfried Sassoon, but so much more. The film explores sexual and spiritual identity, as well as depicting desire between men at a time when acting on such feelings was seen as criminal. The cast, which includes Jack Lowden, Peter Capaldi, Jeremy Irvine, and Ben Daniels, is truly outstanding. Sassoon dared to think for himself and question ideas, matters, and actions he was told to accept.

(no trailer yet)—World Premiering at TIFF

"Firebird"




Based on Sergey Fetisov's memoir, Peeter Rebane's transfixing Cold War thriller "Firebird" centers on the forbidden love between Estonian private Sergey (a fierce Tom Prior) and his lover, Lieutenant Roman Medveyev (Oleg Zagordnii), a fighter pilot on the same Air Force base. Set in the late '70s and into the '80s, the film is a superbly crafted romance drama about the difficulties of being gay in certain parts of the world in the recent past. Prior is the find here. He co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in the film, making him a triumphant triple threat.

"Everybody's Talking About Jamie"




"ETAJ" is an exuberant, empowering musical that every queer teen — actually, every teen — should see. The film is an adaptation of the award-winning West End musical that was inspired by true events. The narrative centers on Jamie New (amazing newcomer Max Harwood), who has just turned 16 and dreams of being a drag queen. He is supported by his devoted mum (the gifted Sarah Lancashire), but certain kids and even adults at school make his life difficult. The joyous musical numbers and queer-positive message make for a truly smashing film.

"My Name Is Pauli Murray"




"How can one person be so pivotal in our history and yet not be a name anyone knows?" This is a question the compelling documentary "My Name is Pauli Murray" sets out to answer as directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West explore the life of this Black attorney, activist, poet, and true gender non-conforming queer pioneer. Pauli was a social justice warrior long before the civil rights movement was in full swing, and was wrestling with broader ideas of gender identity long before it was something discussed. Her story is finally being told, and it's a most significant one.

"Mascarpone (Maschile Singolare)"




What is mascarpone? A tangy cream cheese used in many Italian dishes — one that often tastes better if homemade. But getting it right is not easy. The sublime, gay-affirming film "Mascarpone (Maschile Singolare)," directed by Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati, chronicles the journey of 30-year-old Antonio (Giancarlo Commare), who is dumped by his husband of 12 years and must now find his place in the gay world. Italian filmmakers are finally daring to tell queer-positive stories, and this one is a delight.

"The Sixth Reel"




The grand drag diva Charles Busch is back, this time as co-writer, co-director and, of course, star of "The Sixth Reel," a gloriously old-fashioned tale of a cinephile who, after the death of an old friend, discovers a Hollywood treasure long thought lost (an actual Lon Chaney film, "London After Midnight.") What ensues is madcap madness and mayhem. Busch and his co-conspirator, Carl Andress, have assembled a marvelous supporting cast that includes a scene-stealing Julie Halston, Tim Daly, and Margaret Cho. Lovers of old movies will kvell.

"Flee"




The Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Jonas Poher Rasmussen's "Flee" is an atypical blend of animation and documentary that chronicles a gay Afghan refugee's deeply personal story. It also boasts a most surprising reaction by a brother discovering that his sib is gay.

Three releases Yet to Be Seen But Coming Soon:

"Eternals"




It's been highly publicized that Chloé Zhao's "Eternals" will feature the first openly gay superhero in a Marvel movie, as well as a kiss between the two. We shall see just how much screen time Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman get, and how far Disney will go.

"tick, tick... BOOM"




Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his highly anticipated directorial debut with the Jonathan Larson ("Rent") musical, "tick, tick... BOOM," starring Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, and Robin de Jesés. You had us at Lin-Manuel.

"Benedetta"




The always controversial Paul Verhoeven ("Elle," "Showgirls," "Basic Instinct") is back with "Benedetta," the story of a 17th-century Tuscan nun who has a sexual relationship with a fellow sister and sees visions of Christ. Based on a true story. Can't wait for the protests!

Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep. Frank is a recipient of a 2019 International Writers Retreat Residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assisi, Italy), a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and a 2015 NJ State Arts Council Fellowship Award. He is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW, FIG JAM, VATICAN FALLS) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute