By Request “Cool Queer People of Color indie films/documentaries”

A post in progress:

The request has come in for “cool people of color indie films/documentaries” from Black Folk. Part of the request is really about films that are Mangos with Chiliteachable since the goal is to find films to use in class. For me, teachable films may not alway be “cool” films. Many of the films below are among my favorites to watch and to teach. You can follow the links beside those that have been reviewed on this blog or listed in my movies to watch over and over post. I’ve committed to posting more reviews of the films on this list after realizing how many people are unaware of the breadth o films by, for, starring or co-starring a queer person of color particularly those that do not recreate stereotype.

However, despite the plethora of movies on this list and others on the blog that I absolutely love, it should be noted that there are many documentaries and films I use in class that have problematic elements or that are not among the movies that I would watch regularly myself. As learning material they are amazing because they provide opportunities to both learn from the good points of the films and to critically examine the slippages. I’ve never been one who subscribes to the all or nothing school of intellectual inquiry, ie I don’t think we can educate ourselves and others if we subscribe to the idea that film or politics have to perfectly reflect a single definition of identity or desire in order to be accurate otherwise it is killing people. After all, our communities are wide and varied & just looking at some of the discussion on films on this blog alone point out to differences in how we define queer cinema, critical interventions in queer media, etc.

I’m also not a big fan of films that victim blame, play oppression olympics, vilify cultures rather than anti-gay or trans ideologies, etc. While us-grants-panel-2008these are also teachable, they require advanced standing and are not entertaining unless you too subscribe to the unexamined ideologies they present. I’ve tried not to include any of those films here, though there are a few that will require supplemental reading for students inclined to see poc as more homophobic or to question the legitimacy of transgender identity. I have marked them accordingly.

Also since I teach globally, many are also “foreign films.” It can get muddy to include global people of color in a list on N. American people of color and vice versa, however I think it is equally important to think about global constructions of the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender transgression to better develop a language for understanding those intersections truly mean. To be honest, sometimes “foreign films” do a better job of representing intersections and cultural perspectives outside of white N. American norms than what is available in the U.S.

So here is my list. Many of these will be reviewed on the blog at some point or have been reviewed already (see links):


  • Tal Como Somos/As We Are Dir. Judith McCray
  • I Exist Distrib. Arab Film Distribution
  • Brother Outsider Dir. Sam Pollard
  • China Dolls Dir. Tony Ayres
  • Honored by the Moon Dir. Mona Smith
  • Tongues Untied Dir. Marlon T. Riggs
  • Latino Beginnings a Logo Documentary Dir. ?
  • Khush Dir. Pratibha Paramar
  • Looking for Langston Dir. Isaac Julien
  • Jihad for Love – Parvez Sharma (review forthcoming)
  • Milind Soman Made Me Gay Dir. Harjant Gil (read my review here)
  • Paris is Burning Dir. Jennie Livingston
  • Bricando el Charco Dir. Frances Negron-Muntaner
  • Jumpin the Broom Dir. ?
  • Coming out Coming Home Distr. Asian Family Pride
  • still black Dir. Kortney Ryan Zigler (read my full review here)
  • The Hunting Season Dir. Rita Moriera (requires literature to balance against seeing poc as more homophobic)
  • Juchitan Queer Paradise Dir. Patricio Enriquez
  • Pecah Lobang Dir. Poh Si Teng
  • Be Like Others Dir. Tanaz Eshaqhian
  • For Straights Only Dir. Vismita Gupta-Smith
  • BD Women Dir. Inge Blackman
  • Cities of Lust Dir. Raul Ferrera-Balanquet
  • Kim Dir. Alyn Gajilan
  • Almost Myself Dir. Tom Murray (will need accompanying literature on gender queer identity)
  • Boys from Brazil Dir. John Paul Davidson
  • Cruel and Unusual Dir. Dan Hunt
  • U People Dir. Hanifah Waldah (best if also used with music video for context)
  • And the March Continues Dir. Guadalupe San Miguel
  • Pick Up the Mic Dir. Alex Hinton (nice when used with music by out rappers of color, see my post on lesbians and rap here)
  • Shinjuku Boys Dir. Kim Longinotto
  • 1 in 2000 Dir. Ajae Clearway  (includes interviews w/ intersex ppl of color that can be pulled out)
  • Transgression Dir. ?
  • The Agressives Dir. Daniel Peddle
  • The Body of a Poet Dir. Nancy Kates
  • James Baldwin Dir. Karen Thorsen
  • In the Name of Allah Dir. Parvez Sharma


  • Watermelon Woman Dir. Cheryl Dunye (read my partial review here)
  • Saving Face Dir. Alice Wu (see clip under my Top Queer Films post here)
  • Clandestinos Dir. Antonio Hens
  • Love My Life Dir. Koji Kawano (review forthcoming)
  • Fire Dir. Deepa Mehta
  • Adios Roberto Dir. Enrique Dawi
  • Before Night Falls Dir. Julien Schnabel
  • The Journey Dir. Kaya Behkalam
  • The Amazing Truth of Queen Raquela Dir. Olaf de Fleur (read my review here)
  • Noah’s Arc Dir. Patrick Ian-Polk (read my review here)
  • Drifting Flowers Dir. Zero Chou (my review forthcoming)
  • A Brazilian Dream Dir. Limongi Djalma
  • Desi’s Looking for a New Girl Dir. Mary Guzman
  • Floored by Love Dir. Desiree Lim (this movie is very cute & two movies in one; my review forthcoming)
  • Finding Me Dir. Roger S. Omeus Jr.
  • Round Trip Dir. Shahar Rozen (my review forthcoming)
  • The Color Purple Dir. Steven Speilberg
  • Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros Dir. Aureaus Solito
  • Truth Hall Dir. Jade Dixon (really fluffy borderline teachable)
  • Frida Dir. Julie Taymor (minimal lesbian content)

multiculti films w/poc lead

  • When Night is Falling Dir. Patricia Rozema (see clip under my Top Queer Films post here)
  • Nina’s Heavenly Delights Dir. Pratibha Parmar
  • The Bubble Dir. Eithan Fox
  • Making Maya Dir. Rolla Selbak
  • Chutney Popcorn Dir. Nisha Ganatra
  • Incredible True Adventures of Two Girls in Love Dir. Maria Maggenti (see clip under my Top Queer Films post here)
  • Under One Roof Dir. Todd Wilson
  • The Buddha of Suburbia Dir. Roger Michell (I prefer the book)
  • Chicken Tikka Masala Dir. Harmaqe Kalirai (my review forthcoming)

What movies would be on your list?


  • Mangos w/ Chili. promotional image. unattributed.
  • members of Astrea Foundation. unattributed.

3 thoughts on “By Request “Cool Queer People of Color indie films/documentaries”

  1. Here’s my list. I’ve used all of these to some degree in the classroom. Although I would not call all of them “cool” they are useful for discussion and evaluation.

    • Toilet Training (purchase from Sylvia Rivera Law Project )
    • “Good Lookin’ Out” & “Interviews With Renee” from F-Word graduates of Chica Luna Productions, Inc
    • Carandiru
    • The Age of AIDS (shows how in the US, HIV was very much constructed to focus on gay men when in other parts of the world the same illness were affecting women of color and heterosexuals. Free to watch (although over 3 hours) on PBS)
    • Set It Off
    • The Wire (scenes from)
    • Caramel
    • I Like It Like That
    • Midnight In The Garden of Good & Evil
    • My So-Called Life (scenes from)
    • Shortbus
    • She Hate Me
    • Bam Bam & Celeste
    • Live Nude Girls Unite!
    • Osama
    • Quinceanera
    • August The First
    • Second Skin
    • Kinky Boots
    • Doubt
    • Venus Boyz

    • I love Kinky Boots, that should have been on my other list (movies to watch over and over again). Haven’t ever taught it tho.

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