By Kara Headley and Vicki A. Lee
Since the 1969 Stonewall Uprising members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies have celebrated Pride Month every June, honoring the social, cultural, and political contributions — recorded and unrecorded — by queer folks throughout history. As the Library of Congress reminds us, LGBTQ+ Pride Month is just as much a time of solemn remembrance as it is a time of unapologetic self-expression, during which we pay respects to the casualties of homophobic hate crimes and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The LGBTQ+ rights we enjoy today can be largely be credited to the queer and trans activists who paved the way. The forerunners of resistance have fought — often at grave personal expense — against discriminatory laws and hateful institutions to create a safer, more compassionate world for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. But history warns that we must not rest on our laurels: there’s still a long way to go in the fight for equality for every segment of the queer community, differently affected by discrimination based on race, gender, class, physical ability, or mental illness. To quote GLAAD, “There can be no Pride if it is not intersectional.”
Coming up in June, we have films by and about LGBTQ+ folks that reflect on the trials and triumphs of sexual exploration and liberation. The month kicks off with several documentaries about the LGBTQ+ community, all out June 1. “Changing the Game” depicts the current civil rights battle for transgender inclusion in sports and follows three transgender high school athletes. Susan Sandler’s “Julia Scotti: Funny That Way” recounts the comedian’s return to the stage after a decades-long hiatus that saw her coming out as a trans woman. “The Sound of Identity” documents Lucia Lucas’ career as the first-ever transgender woman to perform an opera lead.
Another doc coming out later this month, “Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation” (June 18), sees director Lisa Immordino Vreeland revisiting the lives of two iconic gay writers: Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.
A number of narrative films centering on LGBTQ+ characters will also be released in June. “Tove” (June 3), a biopic of Tove Jansson from director Zaida Bergroth, follows the painter in postwar Helsinki as she creates the Moomins and falls in love with theater director Vivica Bandler. Heidi Ewing’s “I Carry You With Me” (June 25) tells the story of Iván and Gerardo, from their childhood in Mexico to their blossoming relationship as adults.
Also among June’s notable releases is “In the Heights” (June 11), written by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The musical follows a bodega owner as he saves money and yearns for a better life. Lizzie Borden’s “Working Girls,” which shows the daily life of a photographer working part-time in a Manhattan brothel, will be re-released in theaters on June 18. Janicza Bravo’s take on a viral Twitter thread, “Zola,” is out June 30, and tells the story of a Detroit waitress who embarks on a road trip to Florida to earn some cash stripping.
Here are the women-centric, women-directed, and women-written films debuting this June. All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise noted.
“Julia Scotti: Funny That Way” (Documentary) – Directed by Susan Sandler (Available on VOD)
Decades ago, Julia Scotti performed as Rick Scotti, and appeared on bills with Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. Now, the trans comedian returns to the stage as “the crazy old lady of comedy” in this tender, funny, and triumphant comeback story.
“Changing the Game” (Documentary) – Written by Amanda C. Griffin, Michael Barnett, and Michael Mahaffie (Available on Hulu)
“Changing the Game” illuminates what many have called the civil rights issue of our time: transgender inclusion in sports. It takes us into the lives of three high school athletes — all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives, and unique paths as transgender teens. Their stories span across the U.S. — from Sarah, a skier and teen policymaker in New Hampshire, to Andraya, a track star in Connecticut openly competing on the girls track team. The film centers on Mack Beggs, who made headlines when he became the Texas State Champion in girls wrestling — as a boy.
“It’s Not A Burden: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Michelle Boyaner (Available on VOD)
“It’s Not A Burden: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents” is a feature-length documentary that provides an intimate look, presented with humor and heart, at the relationships between aging parents and the adult children who care for them, examining the challenges they face and the solutions they discover along the way.
“Bullied” – Written and Directed by Angela How (Available on VOD)
“Bullied” tells the tale of 12-year-old Charlotte (Jacinta Klassen) who, despite her best efforts to stand up for herself, continues to be tormented by Brenda the bully (Lulu Fitz). When attacked in the park late one night, Charlotte fights back hard, knocking Brenda to the ground. The bully falls, hits her head, and stops moving. Charlotte is suddenly in crisis mode — she must now hide the body, or face the consequences of her action.
“The Sound of Identity” (Documentary) (Available on VOD)
“The Sound of Identity” is a unique, history making, feature length documentary, featuring the first-ever transgender woman performing an opera lead in the U.S. with a professional company, in a standard work. And, it happened in Tulsa. Playing Don Giovanni, Lucia Lucas breaks archaic social barriers, making way for other trans opera performers.
“Deadly Illusions” – Written and Directed by Anna Elizabeth James (Available on VOD)
Novelist Mary Morrison (Kristin Davis), suffering from writer’s block, hires innocent yet beautiful caregiver Grace (Greer Grammer) to watch over her children as she dangerously indulges into the fantasies of her new bestseller. Everything changes when Mary becomes spellbound by Grace, who soon becomes her muse. As their relationship blossoms, the line between the life she’s writing and the one she’s living becomes blurred.
“Spare Parts” (Available on VOD)
While traveling on their first American tour, Ms. 45, an all-girl punk band, is drugged and kidnapped. They awaken to find their limbs removed and replaced with crude weaponry, and are forced to fight as Gladiators for a sadistic town.
“Carnaval” – Written by Luisa Mascarenhas, Audemir Leuzinger, and Leandro Neri (Available on Netflix)
After a breakup, an influencer takes her friends on a free trip to Bahia’s vibrant Carnival, where she learns life’s not just about social media likes.
“Tove” – Directed by Zaida Bergroth; Written by Eeva Putro (In Theaters)
Helsinki, 1945. The end of the war brings a new sense of artistic and social freedom for painter Tove Jansson (Alma Pöysti), whose desire for liberty is tested when she meets theater director Vivica Bandler (Krista Kosonen). Tove’s love for Vivica is electric and all-consuming, but she realizes that the love she truly yearns for has to be reciprocated. As she struggles with her personal life, her creative endeavors take her in an unexpected direction. The exploits of the Moomins, infused with inspiration from her own life, bring Tove international fame and financial freedom.
“Dancing Queens” – Directed by Helena Bergström; Written by Helena Bergström and Denize Karabuda (Available on Netflix)
A dancer who gets a job cleaning at a struggling drag club dreams of being in the show and her talent catches an ambitious choreographer’s eye.
“Meltdown in Dixie” (Documentary) – Directed by Emily Harrold (Available on Topic)
In the wake of the 2015 Charleston Massacre, a battle erupts in Orangeburg, South Carolina, between the Sons of Confederate Veterans and an ice cream shop owner forced to fly the Confederate flag in his parking lot. “Meltdown in Dixie” explores the broader role of Confederate symbolism in 21st century America and the lingering racial oppression which these symbols help maintain.
“Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie” – Directed by Chiaki Kon (Available on Netflix)
When a dark power enshrouds the Earth after a total solar eclipse, the scattered Sailor Guardians must reunite to bring light back into the world. The upcoming adventures are set in April, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and Tokyo is in a festive mood as it celebrates the largest Total Solar Eclipse of the century. As the new moon obscures the sun and gradually dims its light, Usagi (Kotono Mitsuishi) and Chibi-Usa (Misato Fukuen) encounter Pegasus, who is in search of the chosen Maiden who can break the seal of the Golden Crystal. Meanwhile, a mysterious troupe called the Dead Moon Circus appears in town, whose nefarious plan is to scatter the nightmare incarnations known as Lemures, seize the Legendary Silver Crystal, rule over the moon and the earth, and eventually dominate the entire universe.
“Spirit Untamed” – Directed by Elaine Bogan; Written by Kristin Hahn and Aury Wallington (In Theaters)
Lucky Prescott’s (Isabela Merced) life is changed forever when she moves from her home in the city to a small frontier town and befriends a wild mustang named Spirit.
“Knots: A Forced Marriage Story” (Documentary) – Directed by Kate Brewer (Available on VOD)
“Knots” explores forced and child marriages, which are occurring legally across the United States every day. Director Kate Brewer reveals the disturbing truth about this problem in modern America through the complicated experience of three forced marriage survivors. Nina Van Harn, Sara Tasneem, and Fraidy Reiss share intimate details of their personal journeys of surviving, escaping, and ultimately becoming powerful voices in the historic fight to end the human rights abuse of forced marriage.
“Undine” (In Theaters and Available on VOD)
Undine (Paula Beer) works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.
“Slow Machine” (In Virtual Cinemas; Available on VOD June 11)
Stephanie (Stephanie Hayes), a restless and vibrant actress, meets Gerard, an NYPD counter-terrorism specialist who’s an aficionado of experimental theater — and maybe out of his mind. Flirtation ensues, ends disastrously, and forces Stephanie to the ramshackle upstate home of musician Eleanor Friedberger, yet this supposed escape is infected by violent memories of her past life.
“The Ancient Woods” (Documentary) – Written by Gintė Žulytė and Mindaugas Survila (In Theaters)
In Lithuania, one of Europe’s last remaining old growth forests is the setting of this immersive, lyrical, often surprising cine-poem, shot over a 10-year period. Wolves trot casually through the snow; snakes slither and attack mice; eagles, ravens, and, most startlingly, owls, compete, eat, feed their young, mate, and preen. Ants, bees, and spiders live side-by-side with a yawning dormouse who looks ready for cartoon stardom. The astounding variety of nature – its mysterious, cruel, and shockingly beautiful moments – are recorded to the natural sounds of this deep, dark forest.
“Trippin’ with the Kandasamys” – Directed by Jayan Moodley; Written by Jayan Moodley and Rory Booth (Available on Netflix)
To rekindle their marriages, best friends-turned-in-laws Shanthi and Jennifer plan a couples’ getaway. But it comes with all kinds of surprises.
“The Carnivores” (In Theaters and Available on VOD)
Alice (Tallie Medel) and Bret’s (Lindsay Burdge) dog Harvey is dying, and he’s ruining everything. What had been a bright little family is quickly getting consumed by clouds of self-doubt, suspicion, and a disturbing amount of ground beef.
“Chasing Wonders” – Written by Judy Morris (In Theaters and Available on VOD)
A coming-of-age story set across the lush wine country of both Australia and Spain, a young man explores the nature of father-son relationships and the pathway toward understanding and forgiveness.
“To the Ends of the Earth” (Available on VOD)
Yoko (Atsuko Maeda) travels with a small crew to Uzbekistan to shoot an episode of her travel reality show. In front of the camera, her persona is carefree and happy-go-lucky, but behind the scenes she is cautious and introverted. Despite her best efforts, the filming of the television series ends unsuccessfully, and frustrated by the failure, she sets off into the mysterious country. Lost in the streets of Tashkent, she finds herself adrift and alone, confronting her deepest fears and hidden aspirations.
“Tragic Jungle” – Directed by Yulene Olaizola; Written by Yulene Olaizola and Rubén Imaz (Available on Netflix)
1920, on the border between Mexico and Belize. Deep in the Mayan jungle, a lawless territory where myths abound, a group of Mexican gum workers cross paths with Agnes (Indira Rubie Andrewin), a mysterious young Belizean woman. Her presence incites tension among the men, arousing their fantasies and desires.
“Awake” (Available on Netflix)
Global hysteria ensues after a mysterious catastrophe wipes out all electronics and takes away humanity’s ability to sleep. Scientists race against the clock to find a cure for the unexplained insomnia before its fatal effects eliminate the human race. When Jill (Gina Rodriguez), a former soldier, discovers her young daughter may be the key to salvation, she must decide whether to protect her children at all costs or sacrifice everything to save the world.
“In the Heights” – Written by Quiara Alegría Hudes (In Theaters and Available on HBO Max)
The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop. The likeable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines, and sings about a better life.
“Censor” – Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond; Written by Prano Bailey-Bond and Anthony Fletcher (In Theaters; Available on VOD June 18)
Film censor Enid (Niamh Algar) takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past.
“Skater Girl” – Directed by Manjari Makijany; Written by Manjari Makijany and Vinati Makijany (Available on Netflix)
Set in a remote village in Rajasthan, India, the film follows Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta), a local teen living a life bound by tradition and duty to her parents. But when London-bred advertising executive Jessica (Amy Maghera) arrives in the village to learn more about her late father’s childhood, Prerna and the other local children are introduced to an exciting new adventure thanks to Jessica and her old friend (Jonathan Readwin) who cruises into town on a skateboard. The kids become infatuated with the sport, skating through the village, disrupting everything and everyone around them. Determined to empower and encourage their newfound passion, Jessica sets out on an uphill battle to build the kids their own skatepark, leaving Prerna with a difficult choice between conforming to society’s expectations of her or living out her dream of competing in the National Skateboarding Championships.
“Holler” – Written and Directed by Nicole Riegel (In Theaters)
Ruth (Jessica Barden), a bright but rebellious teen, joins a dangerous scrap metal crew to pay for her education. Will the job be a ticket out of her small town or the mistake that holds her back?
“Asia” – Written and Directed by Ruthy Pribar (In Theaters)
Asia’s (Alena Yiv) motherhood has always been an ongoing struggle rather than an obvious instinct. Becoming a mother at a very early age has shaped Asia’s relationship with her teenage daughter Vika (Shira Haas). Despite living together, Asia and Vika barely interact with one another. Asia concentrates on her job as a nurse while Vika hangs out at the skate-park with her friends. Their routine is shaken when Vika’s health deteriorates rapidly. Asia must step in and become the mother Vika so desperately needs. Vika’s illness turns out to be an opportunity to reveal the great love within this small family unit.
“In My Blood It Runs” (Documentary) – Directed by Maya Newell (Available on OVID.tv)
An intimate and compassionate observational documentary from the perspective of a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy in Alice Springs, Australia, struggling to balance his traditional Arrernte/Garrwa upbringing with a state education.
“So Pretty” – Written and Directed by Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli (Available on OVID.tv)
Four queer and trans youth in New York City struggle to maintain their proto-utopian community against the outside world as their lives curiously merge with the 1980s German novel “So Schön” by Ronald M. Schernikau.
“Queen Bees” (In Theaters and Available on VOD)
While her house undergoes repairs, fiercely independent senior Helen (Ellen Burstyn) moves into a nearby retirement community ― just temporarily. Once behind the doors of Pine Grove Senior Community, she encounters lusty widows, cutthroat bridge tournaments, and a hotbed of bullying “mean girls” the likes of which she hasn’t encountered since high school, all of which leaves her yearning for the solitude of home. But somewhere between flower arranging and water aerobics Helen discovers that it’s never too late to make new friends and perhaps even find a new love.
“No Ordinary Love” – Written and Directed by Chyna Robinson (Available on VOD)
Lines between romantic ideals and control become blurred when Tanya’s (DeAna Davis) husband can no longer handle the stress of his career as a police officer. His warm kisses turn cold, and she is left to fight for her life. At the same time, Elizabeth’s (April Hartman) idyllic life is marred when her charming husband manipulates her into believing she is going insane. Both women plot to leave, but the escape they seek may turn deadly.
“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” (Documentary) – Directed by Mariem Pérez Riera (In Theaters)
Over a 70+ year career, Rita Moreno defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become a celebrated and beloved actor, one of the rare EGOT Award Winners of our time. Born into poverty on a Puerto Rican farm, Moreno and her seamstress mother immigrated to New York City when Moreno was five years old. After studying dance and performing on Broadway, Moreno was cast as any ethnic minority the Hollywood studios needed filled, be it Polynesian, Native American, or Egyptian. Despite becoming the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award for her role as Anita in “West Side Story” (1961), the studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent. “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” illuminates the humor and the grace of Moreno, as well as lesser-known struggles faced on her path to stardom, including pernicious Hollywood sexism and abuse, a toxic relationship with Marlon Brando, and serious depression a year before she emerged an Oscar winner. Moreno’s talent and resilience triumphed over adversity, as she broke barriers, fought for Latinx representation, and forged the path for new generations of artists.
“Working Girls” (Restoration) – Directed by Lizzie Borden; Written by Lizzie Borden and Sandra Kay (In Theaters)
Sex work is portrayed with radical nonjudgment in Lizzie Borden’s immersive, richly detailed look at the rhythms and rituals of society’s most stigmatized profession. Inspired by the experiences of the sex workers Borden met while making her underground feminist landmark “Born in Flames,” “Working Girls” reveals the textures of a day in the life of Molly (Louise Smith), a photographer working part-time in a Manhattan brothel, as she juggles a steady stream of clients, balances relationships with her coworkers with the demands of an ambitious madam, and above all fights to maintain her sense of self in a business in which the line between the personal and the professional is all too easily blurred. In viewing prostitution through the lens of labor, Borden boldly desensationalizes the subject, offering an empathetic, humanizing, often humorous depiction of women for whom this work is just another day at the office.
“Les Nôtres” – Directed by Jeanne Leblanc; Written by Jeanne Leblanc and Judith Baribeau (In Theaters and Available on VOD)
In the face of many provincial dramas, the tight-knit community of Sainte-Adeline, Québec, has always remained united. But when a shockwave engulfs this sleepy community, the townsfolk are forced to confront their contradictions. When it’s discovered that popular high school sophomore Magalie (Emilie Bierre) is pregnant, she refuses to reveal the identity of the father. The ensuing scandal rocks Sainte-Adeline, where appearances are deceptive and the layers of a carefully maintained social varnish eventually crack.
“A Crime on the Bayou” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Nancy Buirski (In Theaters)
“A Crime on the Bayou” is the story of Gary Duncan, a Black teenager from Plaquemines Parish, a swampy strip of land south of New Orleans. In 1966, Duncan tries to break up an argument between white and Black teenagers outside a newly integrated school. He gently lays his hand on a white boy’s arm. The boy recoils like a snake. That night, police burst into Duncan’s trailer and arrest him for assault on a minor. A young Jewish attorney, Richard Sobol, leaves his prestigious D.C. firm to volunteer in New Orleans. With his help, Duncan bravely stands up to a racist legal system powered by a white supremacist boss to challenge his unfair arrest. Their fight goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and their lifelong friendship is forged.
“Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation” (Documentary) – Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland (In Theaters and Virtual Cinemas)
The work, lives, and personal journeys of two iconic American artists coalesce with creative combustion in this innovative dual-portrait documentary.
“Sweat” (In Theaters)
Beloved fitness influencer Sylwia (Magdalena Koleśnik) seemingly has it made: hundreds of thousands of social media followers, endorsement deals, photo spreads in magazines. But as she starts to share more and more online, the rising pressure from concerned sponsors and increasingly obsessive fans forces her to confront her deepest insecurities and the exhaustive demands of her lifestyle.
“Clairevoyant” – Written and Directed by Micaela Wittman and Arthur De Larroche (Available on VOD)
Claire Rivers (Micaela Wittman) is a spoiled rich girl who hires a camera crew to document her journey as she attempts to shed her ego and attain enlightenment. After a particularly mind-blowing yoga session, 21-year-old Claire realizes she’s the only one with most of the answers to all of life’s questions and that she’s the best-suited person to answer the rest. Her yoga teacher (Heidi Fecht) once said that yoga was Indian, so, that’s where she’ll start. But, after realizing that the Indian Art Center is actually Native American, the Indian Embassy has no Buddhists, and the Buddhist temple has no Indians, she embarks on a wild goose chase, interviewing a myriad of “spiritual” teachers, most of whom are more concerned with sliding Claire’s Mastercard than anything else.
“Good on Paper” – Directed by Kimmy Gatewood; Written by Iliza Shlesinger (Available on Netflix)
Andrea Singer (Iliza Shlesinger) always put her stand-up career first, and while dating came easy, love wasn’t a priority — that is until she meets Dennis (Ryan Hansen), a quirky nerd with disarming charm who coaxes her into letting her guard down. Her best friend Margot (Margaret Cho) isn’t convinced he’s all he seems and she urges Andrea to embark on a wild goose chase to uncover who Dennis really is.
“Sisters on Track” (Documentary) – Directed by Corinne van der Borch and Tone Grøttjord-Glenne (Available on Netflix)
“Sisters on Track” chronicles the coming-of-age story of the Sheppard sisters: Tai (12), Rainn (11), and Brooke (nine), who were propelled into the national spotlight in 2016 with their first-time wins at the Junior Olympics. The resulting media storm landed the trio on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Kids of the Year and they were able to move from shelters into their own home. The film offers a rare intimate glimpse into a tight-knit Brooklyn family’s journey to recover from trauma and tragedy. With the support of their mother, Tonia Handy, and the guidance of coach Jean Bell, the Sheppard sisters aim to beat the odds, dream big, and aspire to higher education as they are finding their voices as athletes and students – all while processing the growing pains of adolescence. At the heart of the story is the bond between sisters and an entire community of women, passing the baton of self-empowerment and hope through track and field, from one generation to another.
“I Carry You With Me” – Directed by Heidi Ewing; Written by Heidi Ewing and Alan Page (In Theaters)
Heidi Ewing’s debut as a narrative filmmaker, “I Carry You With Me,” follows a tender romance spanning decades. Starting in provincial Mexico and continuing as first Iván (Armando Espitia), then Gerardo (Christian Vazquez), journey towards sharing a life together in New York City, the film traces both men’s lives from their childhoods in Mexico, through the decisions that lead them into adulthood. Iván, an aspiring chef and young father, hopes to secure a spot in a restaurant’s kitchen while supporting his child. But the discovery of his relationship with Gerardo causes conflict, and in despair, he makes the arduous choice to cross the border into the United States, promising his son and his soulmate Gerardo that he will return.
“False Positive” – Written by Ilana Glazer and John Lee (Available on Hulu)
After months of trying and failing to get pregnant, Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) finally find their dream fertility doctor in the illustrious Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan). But after becoming pregnant with a healthy baby girl, Lucy begins to notice something sinister through Hindle’s gleaming charm, and she sets out to uncover the unsettling truth about him, and her own “birth story.” As if getting pregnant weren’t complicated enough.
“God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya” – Written and Directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska (In Theaters and Virtual Cinemas)
“God Exists Her Name is Petrunya” is based on a true story. It takes place in Stip, a small town in Macedonia. Every 19th of January for the holiday of Epiphany, the throwing of the cross event takes place in almost all the Orthodox world of Eastern Europe. The local priest throws a wooden cross into the river and hundreds of men dive after it. Good fortune and prosperity are guaranteed to the man who retrieves it. This time, the young woman Petrunya dives into the water on a whim and manages to grab the cross before the others. Her competitors are furious, the local population as well as religious establishments are outraged as women aren’t allowed to take part in the ritual. All hell breaks loose, but Petrunya holds her ground. The next day, in an interview with the local television station she encourages more women to jump for the cross in the future. She is labeled by the population as “crazy/disturbed/troubled.”
“Mary J. Blige’s My Life” (Documentary) – Directed by Vanessa Roth (Available on Amazon Prime Video)
Nine-time Grammy-winning recording artist and Academy Award-nominated singer and actress Mary J. Blige set the music world on fire with her trailblazing 1994 LP “My Life,” a collection of powerful confessionals about her battles with abuse, depression, and addiction that forged a profound and enduring connection with millions of fans around the globe. In Oscar-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth’s documentary “Mary J. Blige’s My Life,” the singer, producer, and actress reveals the demons and blessings that inspired the record and propelled her from the soul-crushing world of New York’s housing projects to international stardom. In the process, she celebrates the 25th anniversary of her most influential work by performing the album live for the first time.
“Too Late” – Directed by D.W. Thomas (In Theaters and Available on VOD)
Violet Fields (Alyssa Limperis) works a thankless job as the assistant to Bob Devore (Ron Lynch), famed comedian and host of the live variety show “Too Late.” But what only Violet knows is that Bob is a monster both literally and figuratively. Resigned to her fate, Violet is caught by surprise when she meets aspiring comedian Jimmy Rhodes (Will Weldon) and sparks fly. But as her feelings for Jimmy grow and Bob starts to doubt her loyalty, she and Jimmy could end up as Bob’s next meal.
“Chasing Childhood” (Documentary) – Directed by Margaret Munzer Loeb and Eden Wurmfeld (In Virtual Cinemas)
“Chasing Childhood” is a feature documentary exploring the unintended consequences of overparenting. What if all this well-intended hovering, fear, and over-scheduling has backfired? The film takes us to three communities that are trying to shift culture to create room for play and independence with the hope of raising kids to become competent, healthy, and happy adults.
“Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Malia Scharf and Max Basch (In Theaters and Available on VOD)
Along with friends Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf grew from a graffiti artist into a major force in the 1980s NYC art scene. Obsessed with garbage, cartoons, and plastic, this playful Peter Pan’s roller coaster career flourished despite the decimation of the AIDS crisis and the fickle tastes of the art world. From street art to museums, Scharf continues to create colorful, complex work that puts him at the forefront of where popular culture meets fine art.
“The New Bauhaus” (Documentary) – Directed by Alysa Nahmias; Written by Alysa Nahmias and Miranda Yousef (Available on VOD)
When radical Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy moved to Chicago in 1937, he spearheaded “The New Bauhaus,” a movement descended from the famous German school. An original Bauhaus member, Moholy-Nagy, took a pioneering interdisciplinary mixed-media approach to art and design that was vastly ahead of its time. Featuring intimate interviews with Moholy-Nagy’s daughter and an in-depth exploration of his groundbreaking work, “The New Bauhaus” offers an illuminating portrait of a visionary teacher and thinker.
“Fathom” (Documentary) (Available on Apple TV+)
Regarding intelligence, emotionality, language, and culture, the study of whales challenges our most basic assumptions about what it is to be human. “Fathom,” a feature documentary, will follow some of the world’s most immersed whale researchers — Dr. Ellen Garland and Dr. Michelle Fournet — to explore their groundbreaking work and how a life among whales has shaped them personally.
“Werewolves Within” – Written by Mishna Wolff (In Theaters; Available on VOD July 2)
When a proposed oil pipeline creates hostilities between residents of a small town, a newly-arrived forest ranger must keep the peace after a snowstorm confines the townspeople to an old lodge; but when a mysterious creature begins terrorizing the group, their worst tendencies and prejudices rise to the surface, and it is up to the ranger to keep the residents alive, both from each other and the monster which plagues them.
“The Perfect Candidate” – Directed by Haifaa Al Mansour; Written by Haifaa Al Mansour and Brad Niemann (Available on VOD)
“The Perfect Candidate” follows Maryam (Mila Al Zahrani), a determined young doctor who runs for city council after the male incumbent repeatedly ignores her request to fix the muddy road leading to her clinic. Despite her father and her community’s struggle to accept her as their town’s first female candidate, Maryam’s creative and ambitious campaign builds momentum, becoming a symbol for a larger movement.
“Zola” – Directed by Janicza Bravo; Written by Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris (In Theaters)
Zola (Taylour Paige), a Detroit waitress, is seduced into a weekend of stripping in Florida for some quick cash — but the trip becomes a sleepless 48-hour odyssey involving a nefarious friend, her pimp, and her idiot boyfriend.