With the holidays fast approaching, that hopefully means time for some R&R. If you're looking to catch up on meaningful pop culture conversations, consider our recommendations for film, television, and podcasts that you may not have heard of yet and are certainly worth your time!
Thanks to the Level Ground Programming Team for putting this list together. What would you add? Let us know on our Facebook page!
Amazon Prime(r) On Gender & Sexuality
Two wonderful, thoughtful, and moving works of art concerning gender and sexuality are available for free on Amazon Prime. Check them out!
The first is Pedro Almodóvar's classic All About My Mother. This film put both the radical gay Spanish filmmaker and his muse Penelope Cruz on the international map for good reason. It tells the story of Manuela whose son's death sends her on a journey to find her son's absentee father and tell him the news. Along the way she coincidentally begins to mother a community of women across religious, class, and gender spectrums. Visually striking and fantastically acted All About My Mother continues to be a beautiful film that displays the joys and struggles of being a woman in society.
The second is Jill Solloway’s TV series Transparent that follows the lives of a Jewish family whose parent comes out as a Transgender woman late in life. Though the show is certainly about the Trans* parent, it also explores how gender and sexuality inform the choices of everyone in the family. The show is incredibly acted and surprisingly well shot thanks to guest directors such as Andrea Arnold and Staci Passon. It also is the only LGBTQ themed film/TV show we know of that wrestles with the gray areas many of us experience: What is the line between selfishness and personal liberation? Each character needs (and sometimes finds) liberation, though often through selfish decisions, making Transparent well-rounded and always surprising.
OSCAR WATCH ON "MOONLIGHT"
Moonlight is a gift. Director Barry Jenkins has created a beautiful film about a boy growing up in Miami. Told over three decades (childhood, adolescent, and adulthood), this story about masculinity and sexuality does not preach or proclaim an agenda. It invites viewers into the complex, heart-wrenching world of one person's uncertainty, anger, and hard-won community.
If there is a film that embodies the heart of Level Ground's aims for art creating meaningful conversation, it is Moonlight. If you can, go see this film while it's still in theaters.
ARE YOU WATCHING?
How to Get Away with Murder
Created by Peter Norwalk; Produced by Shonda Rhimes
Lead character Annalise's bisexuality is deeper than an attention seeking story line. Oliver's HIV-Positive status and use of PrEP is a colossal step forward for Network TV. Subsequently, the complexity of his relationship with Connor (and their nonchalant use of the hookup app "Humpr") brings visibility to a journey that resonates with countless members of the LGBTQ community. Go ahead with your bad self, Shondaland!
Resounding praise is in order for the incomparable Ava Duvernay. She created, directed, and executive produced the television series that is Queen Sugar and clearly understands that inclusivity is greater than diversity. A force to be reckoned with, Duvernary flawlessly executes a storyline that encompasses LGBTQ characters and refuses to shy away from issues such as police brutality and sexual abuse. Oh, and Oprah Winfrey is an executive producer of Queen Sugar, too. How can this not be worth your time?
Bonus: Read The Hollywood Reporter's writeup on "Boosting Female Filmmakers" here.
ARE YOU LISTENING?
Jenna Wortham & Wesley Morris
New York Times Culture Podcast
Join the wonderfully queer and critically acclaimed writers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris in processing the most recent and newsworthy events. With special guests like RuPaul and Tika Sumpter, subscribe for a thoughtful evaluation of Beyonce, Colin Kaepernick, and Thanksgiving dinner after the 2016 election.
Kid Fury & Crissle West
Pop Culture Podcast
Black excellence, shade in full, listener letters and more..... Throw some shade and sip some tea with the queer, black and absolutely fabulous Kid Fury & Crissle.