In 2017, the LGBTQI* community, human rights defenders and allies all over the world were shocked by the devastating news of crimes being committed in the Russian republic of Chechnya. In a coordinated action, the authorities were rounding up gay and bisexual men and women, and taking them to illegal prison facilities where they were tortured and forced to out others, with the result that they were either executed or released to their families where they were often subjected to “honour killings”. In an interview, Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied all accusations, claiming that there are no queer people in Chechnya.
David France’s film is the first documentary about those who have come together to save lives – both their own and those of others. This film is a raw, emotionally arresting account of the enormous risks and setbacks but also the victories won against an ultra-conservative society and government. Following rescue operations undertaken by several courageous activists, the film is meticulous in unveiling reality in today’s Chechnya as it unfolds, and excels at making palpable the fear and the hope in the fight for survival.
Here’s our list of films that shine a light on some much-loved bisexual characters.
Bi-erasure has always been a prominent issue in mainstream media. Whether bisexuality is watered down, misrepresented or not included at all, it’s clear that there’s a severe lack of representation when it comes to the big screen.
However, 2019 saw the release of The Favourite which not only proved that bisexual films can be widely successful and critically-acclaimed, but also showed the importance of representation.
Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of bisexual films that walked so that The Favorite could run. How many have you seen?
Appropriate Behaviour (2014)
Desiree Akhavan, who directed, wrote and starred in this playful and dark comedy, plays the character of Shirin who is struggling to blend her three identities of being: the perfect Persian daughter, the politically correct bisexual and the girl trying to make it in a big city. At the beginning of the film, you quickly find out that the protagonist has recently been dumped, is homeless and has lost her job. We love an overachiever. Throughout the film, we follow Shirin as she tries to retake control of her life with a broken heart and the judgement of her parents. Appropriate Behaviour explores the reality of bisexuality in a real-world context.
Atomic Blonde (2017)
If you’re wondering if blondes really do have more fun, well ponder no more, because in this action-packed thriller Charlize Theron proves that yes, yes they do. Set in 1989, against the back drop of the Berlin wall, Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, a top-level MI6 agent who is sent to Berlin to achieve a list which contains the names of all active agents from both MI6 and the KBG. Upon arriving in Berlin, Broughton comes into contact with the character David Percival, the second protagonist who’s played by James McAvoy. But among all the gun fire and second guessing, Theron’s character is able to fit in an all-bearing sex scene with actress Sofia Boutella who plays Delphine – another MI6 agent. This makes a change from the female lead, though powerful, having to fall in love with her male counterpart. And if you didn’t think Theron was badass enough, the actress was one of the lead producers behind the film and is rumoured to be producing the second one.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Old Town Road may have been knocked from the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 but nothing says yeehaw like the bisexual duo of Ennis Del Mar, played by Heath Ledger, and Jack Twist, played by Jack Gyllenhaal. Brokeback Mountain tells the tale of the relationship of Del Mar and Twist who meet when they’re both hired by a farmer to herd sheep. Set against the backdrop of the Wyoming mountains in the summer of 1963, Del Mar and Twist develop a sporadic sexual affair that continues long after their initial encounter on Brokeback Mountain. And though the pair both find wives, Del Mar with Alma (played by Michelle Williams) and Twist with Lureen (played by Anne Hathaway) the lovers still rekindle their affair on their annual fishing trip. The film received three Academy Awards and today is still considered a staple of LGBTQ cinema.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
It was the film that captivated everyone in 2018, with its picturesque Northern Italy aesthetics, evocative soundtrack and on-screen romance. You would have to be living under a rock to not know about Call Me by Your Name. While the film has received critical acclaim and mainstream attention, there has been much confusion about the sexuality of the protagonists Elio (played by Timothée Chalmet) and Oliver (played by Armie Hammer), with many fans believing that the characters are gay when in actual fact they’re bisexual. The film starts when Oliver, a 24-year old undergraduate, arrives at Elio’s parent’s summer house as he has been invited by Elio’s father, Samuel, to stay and work on his academic papers. Over the summer, while riding bikes and swimming in the lake, the two develop an intimate relationship. Yet running adjacent to this, Elio still manages to pursue a romantic relationship with his long-time friend Marzia played by Esther Garrell, while Oliver ends up engaged to a woman. The famous line in which the book name derives from summarises the intensity of the characters of the relationship over the summer: “Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.”
Kiera Knightly being in a biographical drama is a film worth watching. But Keira Knightly playing a bisexual writer is a biographical drama is a film you have to see. Colette tells the tale of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a young woman from Northern France. Set in the 19th Century, Colette eventually moves to Paris with her husband Willy who refers to himself as an “literary entrepreneur” because he employees ghost writers to write novels for him. When hard times comes, Willy implores Colette to write a novel based on her school days which he later publishes under his by-line. The film sees Colette exploring her identity after the novel’s release which leads to her having an affair with Missy who is a French socialite played by Denise Gough. The film has been considered by critics as Knightley’s best performance yet.
Many people know Frida Kahlo for her surrealist Mexican influenced art that dominated the 20th century, but what many people may not know was that the artist was openly bisexual. The name sake film starts by showing the origin story of the artist, played by Salma Hayek, and how she started painting. Throughout the film, we see Frida develop a relationship with the muralist Diego Rivera, played by Alfred Molina, who both encourages her art and her sexual promiscuity with women. Altogether, Hayek plays the part accurately and with ease making it a film worth watching.
Gia is the hidden gem of the bisexual film industry. The biographical film sees Angelina Jolie take on the role of one of America’s first supermodels Gia Marie Cargini. At the beginning of the film, Gia moves from Philadelphia to New York City to become a super model. Upon landing in the big apple she catches the eye of the agent Wilhelmina Cooper, played by Faye Dunway, and quickly starts making her way up the fashion industry ladder. But after Cooper’s death, Gia begins to spiral resulting in the model seeking solace in drugs and begins a love affair with Linda, a makeup artist played by Elizabeth Mitchell.
What could be worse than the 2017 travesty of The Academy accidentally giving La La Land the award for Best Picture instead of Moonlight? The answer is you not watching the bisexual experience that is Moonlight. Moonlight spotlights the story of Chiron and the three different chapters of his life titled: Little, Chiron and Black. The film tells the tale of Chiron and his experience growing up in a world full of drugs and violence as well as his relationship with his long-time friend Kevin.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The murder mystery The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo sees Daniel Craig hang up his James Bond suit and putting on a hat of a financial reporter by the name of Mikael Blomkvist. His investigation into the 40-year-old murder of Harriet Vagner leads him to working with Lisbeth Salander an investigator that is played by Rooney Mara. Salander is considered an enigma not only for her hacking skills but also her relationship with men and women.
The History Boys (2006)
Deriving from the much-loved play by Alan Bennett, the film focuses on a class of charismatic, unruly, boys and their pursuit to get into Oxbridge. Throughout the film you bare witness to each boys journey of trying to fit an academic criterion while at the same time trying to understand themselves. You see the character of Posner, played by Samuel Barnett, struggle with his homosexuality while the character of Dakin, played by Dominic Cooper, crosses into the realms of bisexuality when a new professor arrives. The film is a testament to the fluidity of sexuality and knowledge, summarised in the quote from Bennett “the transmission of knowledge is an erotic act.”
The singer hit out at the “hypocrisy” the Russian president showed.
Earlier this week, in an interview with the Financial Times, Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia has “no problems” with the LGBTQ community.
“God forbid, let them live as they wish,” said Putin. “Some things do appear excessive to us… They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles.”
He added: “Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.
“I am not trying to insult anyone, because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia as it is. But we have no problems with LGBT persons.”
Given how the LGBTQ community is treated in Russia, with an intersex woman being evicted from her home following police harassment and a BTS concert being cancelled for being ‘gay’ in this year alone, many took issue with what the Russian president said.
Those included singer, Sir Elton John, who in a letter to Putin, wrote: “I was deeply upset when I read your recent interview in the Financial Times. I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies.
“I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to ‘be happy’ and that ‘we have no problem in that’.”
Making reference to the cutting of gay sex scenes and a picture of Elton John with his husband in the star’s biopic, he added: “Yet Russian distributors chose to heavily censor my film Rocketman by removing all references to my finding true happiness through my 25 year relationship with David and the raising of my two beautiful sons. This feels like hypocrisy to me.
“I am proud to live in a part of the world where our governments have evolved to recognise the universal human right to love whoever we want. And I’m truly grateful for the advancement in government policies that have allowed and legally supported my marriage to David. This has brought us both tremendous comfort and happiness.”
In a decision to censor Rocketman, Olga Lyubimova, the head of the Culture Ministry’s cinema department, told Tass that no specific restrictions were put on the film, but films had to abide by Russia’s laws on “paedophilia, ethnic and religious hatred and pornography.”
Speaking to CNN, Putin rejected Elton’s claims, saying: “Speaking of Elton John, I respect him very much … but I think he is mistaken. I didn’t overstate anything.
“We have a law that everybody is angry at us because of the law that doesn’t allow propaganda of homosexuals among underage population. Let’s let the kids grow and then let them decide what they want to do.”
It will be necessary to watch late to see Chechnya: The Purge on France 3 this Friday. The short film about homophobic repression in Chechnya will be broadcast on the night from Friday to Saturday at 1:35. But rest assured, the movie will then be visible in replay for a week.
The film tells the story of Doga, who works in the family restaurant, including the man he loves in secret. One day he is arrested by the Chechen police and his lover’s turn will not be long. When that happens, Doga finds himself in a gear that can only end badly.
Jordan Goldnadel, the director of Chechnya: La Purge , tells us that it was Evgeny Gordeyev, the main actor himself, who inspired this project:
“Four years ago, at the end of a difficult shoot, I found myself in the evening with people I did not know, friends of friends. And there, at 3 o’clock in the morning, I met Evgeny, who told me all his story, how he was from the Caucasus on the Chechen border, how he was beaten and humiliated in prison with his boyfriend just because they were homosexuals before finally settling in France. I did not see him again after that night, but his story touched me a lot and it was then that I started thinking about making a film about the treatment of homosexuals in this part of the world. Years later, when I heard about what was happening in Chechnya, I thought the time had come, we could not wait, there was a real urgency. is that friends in common then put us in touch with Evgeny, who had meanwhile become a comedian.He passed the auditions and immediately, I knew that the role was for him, since it’s a little history that we tell and who is at the origin of the film. “
The only salvation for Chechen homosexuals is indeed exile.
The shooting was not easy. The team had to keep the filming locations secret, following threats. Finding comedians was complicated too, as Jordan Goldnadel says: “We contacted talent agencies in Russia who at first were very excited about working with a French production, but who, by the time they learned from what to talk about the film, were unable to help us out of fear for their talents. (Even if off, they supported our approach!).
The casting was done through a word of mouth. We finally organized hearings. I also contacted myself Sacha Bourdo, who plays the role of the father, whom I loved very much as an actor. I had seen him in Gondry’s films and in the Western movie , for which he had been named to the Caesar. He immediately accepted. ” Since its release, the short film connects the festivals. And the spectators do not come out unscathed: “People are usually very shocked, many do not know what is happening in Chechnya. Some sensitive people sometimes get up and leave the room in the face of violent images (despite the fact that our film does not include terribly raw images). All are moved by the universal message of tolerance and respect for human rights.
The Russian newspaper Novaia Gazeta revealed in April 2017 the wave of anti-LGBT repression in Chechnya.
According to an OSCE report, published in late 2018, “There were several” waves “or” purges “: The first wave took place from December 2016 to February 2017, the second began in March 2017 and was continued until May, the month of Ramadan, after which the third wave began, before stopping largely due to international protests.
Asked about these persecutions in July 2017 , Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said: “We do not have those kinds of people. There are no gays here. If they are brought to Canada. Take them away from us that we do not have that anymore at home. To purify our blood, if there are any, take them away. “