Person Friday’s Favourite Films of 2020

Imagine this is a food blog and you are just trying to get to the recipe: please feel free to scroll past my rambling to get onto the lists, but do read below for a bit of the context and thought process behind the lists if you are so inclined…

Jump to:
Fiction Favourites (Top 20)
Special Mention: Favourite Cinema Experience
Documentary Favourites (Top 10)
Full Letterboxd List
Favourite First Watches of 2020
2019 Favourites List

It would be painfully obvious for me to start this by saying something about what a strange year 2020 was. (But I’m going to do it anyway). We all know it was strange, and of course it affected our watching habits. During the first few months of the pandemic, in the first UK lockdown, I went weeks and weeks unable to watch anything. I just played hundreds of hours of Animal Crossing in between Zoom classes for my film curation MA course, where I tried to keep my mind awake despite the world crumbling and my attention span shortening until my brain was nothing but soup. It should have been the perfect time to watch films, to catch up on everything in my watchlist, but it was hard to focus on anything but mind numbing (but adorable) video games. (Side note: I did build a lovely cinema on my Animal Crossing island).

Thankfully, as the year went on I began to rekindle my enthusiasm for sitting down and watching films. Coping strategies kicked in and the ‘New Normal’ started feeling a bit more, well, normal. For a brief time, cinemas were open again, and I managed to squeeze in a few socially distanced screenings (by this I mean, I went to Monday afternoon showtimes all by myself) and remembered how much the film watching experience benefits from the dark screening room, and your phone OFF. Even when they closed again, I was grateful for this time as it helped me to remember the joy of it all. Plus, having finally seen a few of those new releases that had been held back from us during the first few months, I was hungry for more, and I began using digital film rental services more than I ever had before.

The list I have written here contains a mix of films from this period when cinemas reopened, as well as from the blissful couple of months at the start of the year when we couldn’t have predicted what was to come next. On top of that, I have included a few 2020 releases that I was lucky enough to see in 2019 at London Film Festival which had a general release in 2020. I also made an attempt over the last couple of months to catch up on 2020 releases that I had neglected earlier in the year during the time that my brain was switched off. Overall, despite everything, I still managed to see more of the new releases in 2020 than I did in 2019 (you can see the full list of 98, loosely ordered by enjoyment, here).

Now in Lockdown 3, I hope that by sharing this list I can send some solidarity and inspiration to those who also took a hit to their attention spans over the last year, and who are now looking to catch up on what they missed. Glancing over this list, I truly see some of my new all time favourites, and it seems a shame that their releases were overshadowed by the cursed year they were launched into.

This list, like the one I posted for 2019, is entirely based on my own metric of enjoyment, and is totally subjective. These are my “favourites”, not necessarily “the best”, if such a thing exists. It is only based on my viewing activity which, though one of my highest numbers of films watched ever, remains incomplete. I also chose only films released in cinemas or on demand in the UK during 2020, with the exception of the more obscure entries without distribution (meaning some films you may have seen on others 2020 lists do not qualify in my mind, or I may have included some you saw on others 2019 lists). I wanted this to be a list that you can use to find the majority of the films and watch them straight away, not wait until their eventual release (who knows when or how some of the 2021 films will finally show their faces?) The list also heavily leans on some of my favourite genres and topics that I was massively treated to in 2020: coming-of-age, parent/child relationships, and queer cinema.

With all this said, scroll down to check out my favourite films of 2020, and follow the links to watch them yourself. I have tried to link to the best value place to watch each film, though some may be available on multiple platforms or moved elsewhere. Please tweet me at @hispersonfriday if you watch and enjoy (or don’t enjoy) any of my recommendations, or have any suggestions for me!

Fiction Favourites (Top 20)

(Note: I have separated fiction and documentary simply because including them both in the same list made it very long, and I wanted to feature as much of the great film of 2020 as I could. Not because I think they are distinctly different kind of cinema! Please give your attention to both lists!)

  • 20. Dark Waters dir. Todd Haynes – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: Amazon Prime (Subscription)

    This was the last film I saw in a cinema before the initial UK lockdown in March 2020. I sat anxiously in the cinema chair, hands sanitised but prior to the commonplace use of masks. Ticket purchased using my now-redundant Cineworld card I had been gifted the Christmas before, I went out to the cinema to try and ignore the chaos of the outside world. It’s safe to say this film was an immersive experience in this context, as the film highlights capitalist governments incompetence and greed in dealing with a health crisis (though in this case, a man made one). I was worried the film would be an ‘Oscar bait’ drama but, perhaps with everything going on around it, I found Dark Waters really engrossing and intense, and worthy of its prestige.

  • 19. Lover’s Rock dir. Steve McQueen – UK
    Trailer – Watch on: BBC iPlayer (Free)

    I was lucky to be able to watch Lover’s Rock on a big screen at uni during the few weeks we returned to school in person, during the London Film Festival where it premiered alongside another Steve McQueen film Mangrove, both part of his Small Axe film series commissioned by the BBC. Mangrove was not really my taste, but Lover’s Rock‘s slice of life, fly on the wall perspective of a 1980’s blues party, really hooked me. It was the small details I lived through vicariously: party preparation (from hair to food), the feeling of pushing through crowded rooms, the communal singing and dancing. It made me nostalgic for something I would never experience, heightened in particular by the circumstances of the pandemic. It was the perfect 70 minute escape, whilst still being ambitious in style and culturally meaningful.

    I have still not seen the rest of the Small Axe series as I wanted to focus my attention on other filmmakers during my catch up period, but I hope to soon, especially as they are all available free on BBC iPlayer.

  • 18. Emma dir. Autumn de Wilde – UK
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    I found Emma to be a wonderfully funny and likeable adaptation of the Jane Austen novel (though I was making mental comparisons to Clueless the whole time.) The film has absolutely gorgeous design – particularly in some of the strange hairstyles Emma wear (at one point there’s a bell in her hair!) Watching this rom-com was just a really good time, and the audience in the screening I was in enjoyed it so much they reacted out loud to some of the scenes.

  • 17. Babyteeth dir. Shannon Murphy – Australia
    Trailer – Watch on: Netflix (Subscription)

    I saw Babyteeth at London Film Festival 2019, but I saw it again during the brief reopening of cinemas in the autumn. Following 16-year-old Milla as she undergoes of cancer treatment at the same time as her first love, this teen drama deals with difficult situations and the complex give and take of human relationships. On second watch I did question whether some elements were cliched, but it is definitely worth watching if you want to see beautifully made alternative to the normal teen fare, and to have a cathartic cry.

  • 16. Parasite dir. Bong Joon-Ho – South Korea
    Trailer – Watch on: Amazon Prime (Subscription)

    I’m not sure what else I can say about 2020 Best Picture winner Parasite that you don’t already know, and without giving away too much. I was not actually looking forward to this film originally, as I hated Okja but I felt that Parasite totally lived up to the hype. Thrillers, if you can’t tell from this list, are not typically my taste either, but it is hard not to appreciate the dark humour of Parasite.

  • 15. A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood dir. Marielle Heller – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    Another one of the 2020 Oscar contenders, I was pleasantly surprised by the gentle Mr Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. I had previously watched the documentary about Mr Rogers Won’t You Be My Neighbour?, so I had a solid understanding of his story, which may have helped me to enjoy the film more than some other British members of the audience. I loved the creative incorporation of the aesthetic of the original TV show, and the message about kindness that was sweet but not saccharine. A perfect cosy movie for a Sunday afternoon.

  • 14. To the Ends of the Earth dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Japan
    Trailer – Not currently available on VOD

    I caught this one at London Film Festival 2019, and it premiered for a month on Mubi in 2020. I hope it will become available again soon, because To the Ends of the Earth is definitely a hidden gem. A travelogue about loneliness and self discovery that is also funny and, at times, magical realist. The scene on the ferris wheel is unforgettable.
  • 13. Soul dir. Pete Docter – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: Disney+ (Subscription)

    Another more obvious choice, but I just had to include Soul as my favourite animated / “family” movie of the year. This highly anticipated film gained additional poignancy in the context of 2020: a year where we have had to accept changing circumstances and lowered expectations, just as the protagonist Joe does. The film’s message about acceptance and living in the moment really struck a chord, the imaginative design of the world impressed me, and the many moments of humour lightened the mood between my floods of tears. Though the film has been the subject of some very interesting criticism and analysis, both positive and negative, I still found Soul to be one of Pixar’s successes.

  • 12. Cocoon dir. Leonie Krippendorff – Germany
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    Cocoon is a beautiful German lesbian coming-of-age tale. The warm toned cinematography and repeated motifs of the natural world project the feeling of a youthful summer romance through the screen. Though in some ways the plot may seem predictable, the film remains a beautifully crafted, joyful, and loveable addition to the coming-of-age canon that left me with a huge smile on my face.
  • 11. No Hard Feelings dir. Faraz Shariat – Germany
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    Following on from Cocoon, No Hard Feelings is another great German coming-of-age film. Equally picturesque in its cinematography, No Hard Feelings takes on somewhat heftier themes: the characters are older (in their early 20s) dealing with their immigration status and racial identities alongside their sexualities. However, the film is playful and infused with pop culture references and music that make it a quintessentially modern tale of love and friendship in trying times.

  • 10. Never Rarely Sometimes Always dir. Eliza Hittman – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    When I saw Eliza Hittman’s earlier work a few years ago I could sense she had something special to come. Her style and talent was strong and evident in her imperfect but intriguing films Beach Rats and It Felt Like Love. In 2020, Never Rarely Sometimes Always came along to be that special film; a naturalistic and beautifully observed depiction of the experience of life in the USA as a teenage girl in need of an abortion. The sisterhood between the cousin protagonists is so touching and real. The understated visuals and performances of Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder in these roles allow Never Rarely Sometimes Always to feel, at times, like a documentary, deftly avoiding melodrama, something that is incredibly hard to pull off with this difficult subject matter.

  • 9. Kajillionaire dir. Miranda July – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    Like all ex-Indie Teens, I have been a fan and a follower of Miranda July’s work for some time. Inevitably, I loved Kajillionaire, potentially the most out of all of her films to date. It has stuck with me and grown on me like the pink foam that oozes from the walls of the character’s home since the day that I saw it. The film is like a fairy tale or fable which explores the human need for connection and love through somewhat fantastical, exaggerated characters and scenarios. The world of Kajillionaire combines the surreal and the real, especially when Gina Rodriguez’s Melanie enters Old Dolio’s (Evan Rachel Woods) life. It is imaginative, strange, dark, funny, touching, and unmistakably Miranda July.

  • 8. Happy Old Year dir. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit – Thailand
    Trailer – Watch on: Netflix (Subscription)

    In very exciting circumstances, I was able to speak to director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit as part of my graduation film programming project “The Camera on Camera”, where I screened his debut 36. We talked about his fascination with cameras and photographic images in his films, starting in 36 and onto this, Happy Old Year, his most recent film. Whilst 36 is about an over reliance on photography to preserve our memories, Happy Old Year looks at how a life of complete minimalism can detach us from our memories too. Physical objects – including cameras, printed photographs, and hard drives of digital photos, as well as other household knick knacks – can evoke memories and feelings in us that are healthy and important to hold onto and examine. It tells the story of an interior designer with a Marie Kondo-like philosophy about clutter, who is brutal in removing symbols of her past from her life. However, when she suddenly has a revelation whilst clearing out her childhood home, she feels a desire to return borrowed objects and rekindle past relationships. It feels as though this film has been overlooked in the UK, but with easy access via Netflix I highly recommend this sweet and thought provoking film.

  • 7. Portrait of a Lady on Fire dir. Celine Sciamma – France
    Trailer – Watch on: MUBI (Subscription)

    I was lucky enough to see this film at Cannes Film Festival in 2019, but I had to take it in again when it received its general release just before lockdown in the UK. I was already a huge fan of Celine Sciamma, with Tomboy being one of my favourite films of all time. I was intrigued about her move away from the coming-of-age genre and into a period romance, but she transitioned between the genres with ease, creating a classic love story from a lesbian perspective. Portrait’s romantic power is strengthened by the intense chemistry that is felt between Noemie Merlant and Adele Haenel as well as the lush scenery, costumes, and artistic themes.

  • 6. Days of the Bagnold Summer dir. Simon Bird – UK
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    I caught Days of the Bagnold Summer at LFF 2019, intrigued by the films graphic novel origins, Belle & Sebastian soundtrack, and Simon Bird (of Inbetweeners fame) directing. I absolutely adored it – the story of a British summer and the relationship between a shy librarian mother and her grumpy metalhead son. The film observes suburban British life with love, humour, and attention to detail (just as The Inbetweeners did, I would argue, though without the gross out jokes). The film also acts as a love letter to mother/son relationships and what we can each offer to one another in our journeys of self discovery. I rented the film to watch again with my family during the summer of lockdown, and enjoyed it equally on a second viewing, and appreciated how apt the subject matter must be for young people in these strange times.

  • 5. System Crasher dir. Nora Fingscheidt – Germany
    Trailer – Watch on: BFI Player (Subscription)

    Not for the faint of heart, System Crasher demonstrates the difficult life of a troubled child in the German care system. With a wild and fierce performance by young Helena Zengel as the 9-year-old Benni at the centre of the drama, System Crasher is a nuanced and empathetic look at this child’s life from all angles; from that of her family, care workers, and herself. I also particularly loved the heart-racing score by John Gurtler that creates an intense atmosphere that remains imbued with a childlike playfulness – just as Benni’s presence gives to the other character’s lives.

  • 4. Proxima dir. Anna Winocour – France
    Trailer – Watch on: Netflix (Subscription)

    Proxima is a beautiful story of a mother and daughter relationship undergoing separation. Eva Green’s Sarah is in training to become an astronaut, and to further her career she must move away from her daughter for preparation for her time among the stars. Director Anna Winocour (writer of Mustang) uses her film to confront expectations and experiences of women in the workplace and in motherhood. The result is incredibly moving without being overly sentimental; it is easy to imagine this same plot in Hollywood hands, but the European arthouse sensibility allows the emotion at the heart of the story to build up throughout the film, leaving you sobbing by the arrival of the touching closing scene.

  • 3. Amanda dir. Mikhael Hers – France
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    In Amanda, Mikhael Hers explores the devastating effects of grief on the family of a terrorist attack victim. The titular Amanda, played beautifully by first time actor Isaure Multrier, is the young daughter of Sandrine, who is killed in a random attack in a Paris park. Her brother David (played by Vincente Lacoste) is late to the picnic, arriving at the scene to witness the aftermath of the atrocity. The film is incredibly naturalistic and gentle given the subject matter and, though very upsetting, the scene is played out with a level of mundanity that encapsulates both the pain and the numbness experienced by the characters when they are first hit with this unfathomable tragedy. Through the rest of the film, David and Amanda must learn to live together and move forward with their lives without their beloved Sandrine. Though I am sure this plot will be off putting to many, I can promise that overall the tone of the film is warm and sweet, and the sun drenched scenes of Paris and London act as a balm to the suffering the characters are going through.

  • 2. A Perfectly Normal Family dir. Malou Reymann – Denmark
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    During the brief return to in-person teaching at my university, I was able to attend weekly “Cinema Club” screenings of new releases. I hadn’t heard anything at all about A Perfectly Normal Family before this, but after such a long cinema drought, I was open to pretty much anything. That afternoon, I checked out the trailer, and I was already excited – if you can’t tell already from this list, I love coming-of-age films, especially those about parent/child relationships. That evening, watching the film, I felt I had uncovered a hidden gem. A Perfectly Normal Family is an incredibly empathetic film which follows a trans woman through her transition from the perspective of her youngest daughter. This point of view allows the viewer to go through the journey of understanding with her, starting from a place of ignorance and slowly moving towards acceptance and love. This is so beautifully done, perhaps because the story is based on director Malou Reymann’s childhood experience, with the endorsement of her trans parent. Though I do wish slightly different casting choices were made (the trouble with casting a cisgender man in the role of a trans woman is explored in Disclosure, discussed below), however, I think that overall the film is incredibly loving and the casting issue was (for me) negligible compared to the positive messages of the film as a whole (though I appreciate that others might not feel the same way!). This film also contains probably the best ABBA needle-drop of any film ever that had me sobbing harder than in either Mamma Mia film! (There is also a surprisingly moving moment soundtracked by Aqua’s “Cartoon Heroes”…)

  • 1. Rocks dir. Sarah Gavron – UK
    Trailer – Watch on: Netflix (Subscription)

    After I saw Rocks at LFF 2019, I excitedly texted my friend: “I have just seen the best modern British film!!!” (or words to that effect…). On rewatch after its postponed release in autumn 2020, I stand by this statement. Rocks may sound on paper like traditional, “gritty” British realism – London teenagers dealing with trouble at home in their high rise flats – but the execution reminded me more of Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda (one of my favourite filmmakers), and not just because of the obvious thematic connections to his film Nobody Knows. This vision of life for a teenage girl who is left alone to care for her younger brother when her mum disappears also matches his trademark naturalism and gentle atmosphere. The film is the opposite of gritty, even in its darkest moments, the world is ultimately bright, and full of sisterly love between its brilliant stars. The girls make the film, both due to their excellent first-time performances and chemistry on screen, but also due to the collaborative way the film was made. I strongly suggest that, after the film, you watch some interviews with the amazing Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, and the rest of the group to learn more, as the creation is as fascinating as the film itself. Rocks is a total treat for the heart and soul. (PS. Oscar for Emmanuel please!)

Special Mention (Favourite Cinema Experience):

  • Jesus dir. Hiroshi Okuyama – Japan
    Trailer – Not currently available on VOD

    With everything going on in 2020, I clung for dear life onto the good times I was very lucky to have in the first couple of months of the year. I did an amazing work placement! I went to see Carly Rae Jepsen live!! And… I went to see the film Jesus as part of the Japan Foundation touring film programme.

    I went to see Jesus with my excellent friend Luna (who directed amazing short film Shagbands which you can also check out for free here… yes I am plugging this because it would have made the list if I was including shorts). The screening was at the ICA in London; this is a cinema I most often go to to see obscure, arthouse cinema during normal times. It is not often where I tend to go for a laugh. But this screening was something else.

    The film title is directly translated as I Hate Mr. Jesus. It is all about a young boy in Japan who is moved to a new home and, crucially, to a Christian school after the loss of a grandparent. At school, he learns about Jesus for the first time, and the potential opportunities for getting his desires via prayer. Soon, he sees Jesus as his imaginary friend – literally manifested on screen as a tiny Thumbelina style figure, who silently hangs around with the films protagonist, playing games with him and listening to his thoughts.

    It’s a genuinely touching film about grief which uses an imaginative take on a child’s point of view to tell the story. However, the touch of humour (which I hope is intended), tickled me and Luna so much that we had childish giggles throughout the screening, and probably annoyed everyone else there. As the serious parts of the film played out, I genuinely thought I might have to run for the exit if I couldn’t control myself.

    Throughout 2020, I kept reflecting back on this cinema experience because it reminded me of why the communal experience of cinema is so special, and how much I missed being with my friends. The film itself is flawed – the tonal shifts that created this fun experience are potentially jarring for some – but if it ever makes its way onto streaming I might watch it again and remind myself of that silly evening that was genuinely one of the highlights of 2020 (though there certainly weren’t many).

Documentary Favourites (Top 10)

  • 10. Talking About Trees dir. Suhaib Gasmelbari – Sudan
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    Talking About Trees follows a group of Sudanese filmmakers who hope to reopen a neglected cinema in their home country. However, cultural shifts and a conservative Islamist state are road blocks in their path. It is is a fascinating and surprising watch for any film fan, not least to be exposed to the important, interesting and endearing filmmakers (the Sudanese Film Group) who guide us, but to consider the meaning and importance of cinema-going culture wherever we are, especially in these times when we are mostly denied access to the big screen.

  • 9. Overseas dir. Yoon Sung-a – Belgium
    Trailer – Watch on: MUBI (Subscription)

    In this observational documentary, we peer into the lives of Overseas Filipino Workers, in training to work as house keepers in the USA. Through predominantly static shots we are able to experience the training process the women undergo, including role play scenes of situations they might experience in their new workplaces. Overseas allows us to get to know some of the women personally, and discover more about their background, current circumstances, and dreams. I knew very little about the industry around OFW before seeing this eye opening film, and it was heartbreaking to see what these women endure, but at times heartwarming to see their solidarity and friendship with one another through it all.

  • 8. Time dir. Garrett Bradley – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: Amazon Prime (Subscription)

    What I found so interesting about Garrett Bradley’s Time was that, though it is a documentary about a man who is doing jail time, and there is some discussion of the circumstances that led to this situation, this is not the primary focus of the narrative. Time is not a “true crime” documentary, but a film about the strange, warped passage of time experienced by the family on the fringes of this unjust situation. The innovative use of home movie footage demonstrates the way we cling onto memories to make sense of time; for this family time will not flow ‘normally’ until they are all reunited. The black and white cinematography in the contemporary sections, too, allows no delineation from the past and present. This stylistic choice shows the family’s state of limbo as they cling onto their love for one another whilst persisting against the ‘justice’ system that has been sending them round in bureaucratic circles for two decades.

  • 7. Feels Good Man dir. Arthur Jones – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: BBC iPlayer (Free)

    Reflecting on the last decade of American (and indeed British and possibly global) life, Feels Good Man is an incredibly prescient documentary. Ostensibly about the shy and sweet comic artist and creator of the infamous Pepe The Frog (Matt Furie), on a broader scale the film explores the impact of the internet and memes on politics, culture, and perceptions of reality. The subject is fascinating and vital in an era of disinformation, QAnon, and right wing uprisings, whilst still being an enjoyable film to watch due to the likeable Furie and animated elements that bring Pepe to life in a new way.

  • 6. Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema dir. Mark Cousins – UK
    Trailer – Watch on: BFI Player (Subscription)

    Now, I am famous amongst my friends as a long film hater – but broken down into ‘episodes’, Mark Cousins epic 14 hour road movie allows us to explore the work of women filmmakers from around the world, and is a feast for any film fan. Women Make Film acts as smorgasbord of important and interesting film clips, offering a taster of the multitudes of varied and diverse works that have been made by women over the course of cinema history. Cousins himself describes the documentary as not being about ‘women’s films’, but being about film more generally as a form, exclusively using only those directed by women as examples. When watching Women Make Film, you will want to have a pen and paper to note down titles and names that catch your eye!

  • 5. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen dir. Sam Feder – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: Netflix (Subscription)

    Working well as a companion to the previously mentioned Women Make Film, Disclosure is a fascinating documentary in a similar vein to The Celluloid Closet. Made up of a combination of clips of TV/film representations of trans life and interviews with prominent trans figures in the entertainment industry, the two together examine both the problematic and the positive examples of trans representation. The talking heads, including Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, and Lilly Wachowski, break down how these representations have impacted and shaped their own lives. In these times of transphobic moral panic, this accessible documentary is deeply important in showing how the media shapes narratives against persecuted groups.

  • 4. Dick Johnson is Dead dir. Kirsten Johnson – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: Netflix (Subscription)

    Dick Johnson is Dead is a bold and creative exploration of how we conceptualise and deal with life, death, and the grief that comes with it. Director Kirsten Johnson enlists her ageing father to act in scenes imagining possible gruesome death scenarios, emotional funerals, and a star-studded afterlife. Through these vignettes and snippets of their day to day life together, the two explore each other’s feelings about Dick’s end of life with dementia, the loss of Kirsten’s mother to the same illness, and what the future holds for them both. Kirsten and Dick’s love for life and each other makes the film delightfully dark and heartbreakingly humorous.

  • 3. Little Girl dir. Sebastian Lifshitz – France
    Trailer – Watch on: VOD

    A tender, empathetic, and humanistic film, Little Girl shows the life experienced by the wonderful Sasha, an 8 year old trans girl. With the support of her family and medical experts, Sasha grows in confidence as we follow her journey through the years. Let into the family’s private world, the audience is allowed to observe the accomplishments and joys along the way, as well as the struggles she and her parents go through in the fight for acceptance and understanding. In the current climate where attacks on the healthcare of trans youth have gained traction in the UK, it was wonderful to see the possibility of a future where children are given the support and love they need to be themselves, even in the face of those who wish to refuse them this.

  • 2. Night Gowns FOREVER dir. Sasha Velour – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: YouTube (Free)

    Less of a documentary and more a performance film, Nightgowns Forever is a compilation of previously unreleased performance footage from the New York City queer art show Nightgowns. The show was founded by my favourite RuPauls Drag Race winner Sasha Velour, and has been called “the drag artist’s drag show”. This film, stitched together during the pandemic with (occasionally awkward, but still charming) links by Sasha and the Nightgowns main cast via video call, celebrates 5 years of Nightgowns. Showcasing some of the most exciting, diverse, and innovative drag and queer art I have ever seen, this film should be seen by anyone who is missing theatre, performance, and nightlife. My particular favourites were the surprising inclusion of a Carseat Headrest lip sync by Untitled Queen, Sasha’s own take on Alexandra by Allie X, and the iconic Drag Race All Star Shea Coulee doing a Janelle Monae number, amongst a host of other brilliant performances from drag queens, drag kings, and trans/gender non-conforming artists.

  • 1. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution dir. Nicole Newnham and James Lebrecht – USA
    Trailer – Watch on: Netflix (Subscription) / YouTube (Free)

    The brilliantly hopeful documentary Crip Camp showcases remarkable archival footage to chronicle the changing landscape of disability activism. Starting with the story of Camp Janed, a summer camp for disabled teenagers in the 1970s attended by co-director James Lebrecht, amazing footage shows the freedom and joy the place infused into those who stayed there. Contrary to the typical depiction of those with disabilities, the children are shown expressing their authentic selves together; being creative, having fun, as well as talking frankly about sexuality and other life experiences. The impact of these freeing and liberating summers is then explored as ex-campers are shown at the heart of the disability rights movement, with its impact felt right up to the present day. Whilst exposing the undercurrent of disability discrimination that persists in the world to this day, the film primarily acts as a joyous celebration of the power of protest and togetherness.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s