We would caution against using films in class, as they are too lengthy, taking up too much lesson time, and would not generate useful discussion used in this way. However, you may decide to show an excerpt from one or more films depending on the theme you are covering for any particular lesson, as a piece for discussion
Films about Gender
52 Tuesdays (Sophie Hyde, 2013, 15 cert). The film follows the relationship between a mother and her daughter as the mother progresses towards gender transition which results in limited time for 16-year-old Billie to just Tuesday afternoons.
Ma Vie en Rose (Alain Berliner, 1997, 12 cert). This Belgium film follows the innocent seven-year-old Ludovic, a child who insists that she is a girl, despite the reactions of her family and her neighbours. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. The film could be useful to elicit discussion about gender.
The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper, 2015, 15 cert) highlights the historical significance of Lili Elbe (see Chapter 5). The film loosely follows the relationship between Einar Wegener and Gerda Wegener and Lili’s progression of self-discovery to embrace her true identity as Lili Elbe. Alicia Wikander won the best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of Gerda.
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (Beeban Kidron, 1995, PG cert). Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo play three transvestites who get stranded in a small town but help to empower a range of people they meet.
Transparent (Jill Soloway, 2014-2019, 15 cert). Available on Amazon Prime Video. A family come to terms when the father, Mort, identifies as a trans woman, Maura.
Films about Sexuality
Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005, 15 cert) follows the developing relationship between two cowboys as they get closer and their subsequent relationship in the preceding years. The film won three Oscars and could be used to discuss the various relationships portrayed within the film.
But I’m a Cheerleader (Jamie Babbitt, 1999, 15 cert), a film about a conversion therapy camp where Megan (played by Natasha Lyonne) is sent to help cure her lesbianism. The director, Jamie Babbit was inspired by an article about such conversion and rehabilitation camps, while challenging sexuality and the social construction of gender roles.
Films about Hate Crime and Advocacy
Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Peirce, 1999, 18 cert). Hilary Swank stars in the biographical film of Bandon Teena, a trans man who was gang raped then killed in Nebraska in 1993. Hilary Swank won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Lead Actress for her portrayal of Brandon and prepared for the role by living as a man for a month.
Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008, 15 cert) is a biography of Harvey Milk and features Sean Penn in the main role for which he won an Oscar as best actor. The biopic follows Milk’s career including his fight against the State to allow LGB teachers from being banned from teaching in public schools.
Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme, 1993, 12). This is a powerful film starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington of a man who is fired from his job for being HIV positive and his attempt to combat the discrimination he faces. The film won two Oscars, one for Tom Hanks as Best Actor, the other for Bruce Springsteen for the title song. The film could be used to discuss how such discrimination has been and still is prevalent in society.
Stonewall (Roland Emmerich, 2015, 15 cert) follows the events of the 1969 Stonewall Riots through the character of Danny Winters.
Films about Perspective
Oblivion (Joseph Kosinski, 2013, 12 cert) where subjective judgements about reality made during the film are completely wrong due to being unable to see the larger perspective.
Rashōmon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950, 12 cert) the infamous film of different people’s perspective.
Citizen Kane (Orson Wells, 1941, U cert). A dying newspaper tycoon, Charles Foster Kane, utters his last words, ‘Rosebud’. A group of reports seek to find the meaning of this word.
The Matrix (Lana and Lilly Wachowski, 1999, 15 cert). Based on the philosophical question posed by René Descartes, The Matrix challenges Neo’s assumption of reality while introducing him to a true reality and his role in taking on those that control the matrix.
Hoodwinked (Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards, Tony Leech, 2005, U cert). The events leading up to their encounter is told to the police from the perspectives of the Wolf, Granny, the Woodsman and Little Red Riding Hood herself.