The Best LGBTQ+ Films to Learn Foreign Languages
Since the 1990s, the way in which LGBTQ+ identities are portrayed in entertainment has improved greatly. The popularity of movies such as Philadelphia, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Brokeback Mountain has shown that queer audiences are hungry for more and better representation in film.
At the same time, the rise of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime make it very easy for people who are tired of Hollywood cinema to access foreign or independent contents that are more suitable to their interests. This accessibility allows us, for example, to see how LGBT characters are depicted in distant cultures while exposing us to a wide variety of languages.
That is why, today, we have decided to make a list of the best LGBTQ films you can watch to learn foreign languages.
120 Battements Par Minute (Robin Campillo, 2017) – French
In the early 1990s, a group of HIV/AIDS activists join ACT UP, a radical organization that seeks to push the French government to take action against the AIDS epidemic. Nathan, who is a newcomer to the group and somewhat naïve, is drawn to the explosive, HIV-positive Sean. The two boys fall in love and start a tender relationship, but Sean soon starts to exhibit signs of the disease.
Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, the Argentinean actor who speaks perfect French as Sean, learnt to speak the language by taking 8-hour lessons every day for three months. Inspiring, right?
Even though watching a film might not help you sound like a native speaker, this movie can teach you lots of French vocabulary related to social activism and sexual identities.
Pride (Matthew Warchus, 2014) – English
It is the summer of 1984, and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike due to an ongoing fight with Margaret Thatcher’s government. In London, a group of young gay and lesbian activists decides to raise money to help the families of the impoverished miners.
The Union, however, is reluctant to accept support from a group of “queers”. But the activists don’t give up. They ignore the Union, get on a minibus, and travel to a mining town in deep Wales to offer their support to the families in person. This is the beginning of an inspiring true story about two seemingly opposite communities who form an endearing and lasting friendship.
Pride is a great British film for English learners who enjoy noticing the differences between different accents. In only 90 minutes, you will get to hear people from London, Northern Ireland, and Wales. After watching the film, you can practise your Welsh accent by singing along to this song:
Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017) – Norwegian
This Norwegian thriller drama film tells the story of an introverted and repressed young woman from an ultra-religious Christian background who arrives in Oslo to start university. There, she meets Anja, a beautiful, brilliant girl to whom she feels inevitably attracted.
It seems like Thelma will finally be able to open up to the world, but then she begins to experience unexplained epileptic seizures which serve as a manifestation of her repressed desires.
A wonderful study about what guilt and repression can do to a person, Thelma offers viewers a rare opportunity to hear this lesser-known language in an exciting, engrossing film that will stay with you long after you’ve seen it. You can watch the fantastic US trailer below:
Lilting (Hong Khau, 2014) – English / Mandarin Chinese
Lilting is an acclaimed British romantic drama about grief and understanding. It tells the story of a Chinese woman named Junn, who has to come to terms with his son’s identity as a gay man after his untimely death. Richard, who was her son’s partner, is also trying to overcome his grief while trying to help Junn understand who her son was.
Little by little, Junn and Richard start to understand each other, despite their linguistic and cultural differences, and they learn to heal each other in unexpected ways.
Throughout the movie, the linguistic differences between the two characters serve as a metaphor for their inability to understand each other’s feelings. This dual-language structure makes it an excellent film for Mandarin students.
Below, you can watch this film’s moving trailer and see how Junn says the lines “Why did you come here?” and “He was my only child”.
Una Mujer Fantástica (Sebastián Leilo, 2017) – Spanish
Una mujer fantástica is an Oscar-winning film from Chile about a transgender woman who has to deal with the suspicions of her partner’s family after the sudden death of her boyfriend. Marina, who has a precarious job as a waitress, is put under the spotlight by both the family and the medical system.
An affecting study about transphobia and discrimination, this fantastic film tells the journey of a woman who has to deal with grief while receiving constant attacks from a harsh, prejudiced society.
People learning Spanish will find lots of powerful quotes in this movie, such as the one by Marina in the trailer: “Es un derecho humano básico despedirse de una persona que uno quiere” (Saying goodbye to the ones we love is a basic human right).
As you can see, there are lots of great films out there for language-lovers who are also interested in LGBTQ+ representation. No matter which one you pick, we believe that your viewing experience will teach you lots of valuable things, not only about language but about diversity and acceptance as well.
If these movies piqued your interest and you’d like to learn more about the languages and cultures of the countries where they were filmed, join our group online classes. There, not only will you learn your target language, but you will also get to know more about other cultures and points of view in a rich multicultural setting.