Lesbian-Centered European Films

From The GLBO-Centered Film List
compiled by Frank Swilling
November 1997 edition

Full version of the list is available at http://www.qrd.org/media/film/1997/glbo.films.list-11.03.97.
See attached notes and acknowledgements.

This selection of European lesbian films has been picked from the above list by Eva Isaksson.


Flaming Ears

Angela Hans Scheirl, Dietmar Schipek, & Ursula Purrer, Directors 1992 : Austria : 84 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A fragmented and bizarre tale of lust, jealousy, and revenge among three lesbians in the far, far future. Technically innovative, staking out a new lesbian aesthetic for the 90s.


Daughters of Darkness

La Rouge aux Levres, Blud an den Lippen, Bloed and de Lippen
Harry Kumel, Director 1970 : Belgium/West Germany/France : 87 minutes : Lesbian/Bisexual : Horror : Campy cult lesbian horror film which features a lesbian vampire as its most sympathetic character and makes heterosexuality seem abnormal.

I, You, He, She

Je, Tu, Il, Elle
Chantal Akerman, Director 1974 : Belgium : 90 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : Conflict-ridden relationship between a woman and her lover and a strange man. Features an 18-minute love scene between the two women.

The Life that We Dreamt

Het Leven dat we Droomden
Robbe de Hert, Director 1981 : Belgium : Lesbian : Drama : Two women fall in love with the same man, but soon discover that they love each other.


The Farewell

Tuija-Maija Niskanen, Director 1980 : Finland/Sweden : 90 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : In the 1930s, a young Finnish woman defies her tyrannical father to have a relationship with a young German woman. In Finnish with English subtitles.


Bad Girls

Les Biches
Claude Chabrol, Director 1968 : France: : 99 minutes : Lesbian/Bisexual : Drama : A young woman (Jacqueline Sassard) who is picked up by a stylish Parisian woman (Stephane Audran) and taken away for the summer gets her own back after being spurned for another. This is the 'Lesbianism as best avoided' school of voyeur cinema, but unique in its time.

The Banker

La Banquiere
Francis Girod, Director 1980 : France : Lesbian : Drama : The rise and fall of a masculine self-made bank president in the 1920s in Paris.

Celine and Julie Go Boating

Celine et Julie Vont en Bateau
Jaques Rivette, Director 1974 : France : 192 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A magician and a librarian meet in Montmartre.

Entre Nous

Between Us, Coup de Foudre
Diane Kurys, Director 1983 : France : 110 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : In 1950s Lyons, France, two married women meet, develop a friendship, and leave their husbands for one another.

French Twist

Gazon Maudit
Josiane Balasko, Director 1995 : France : 107 minutes : Lesbian/Bisexual : Comedy : When super-butch Marijo, a DJ and handywoman, drives her hippie van through town, it breaks down at Loli's house. Loli is the neglected, Spanish-emigre wife of Laurent, a philandering real- estate agent. Marijo asks to use the phone, Loli says yes, and the stage is set for the most original slant on the French sex farce to come along in years. In French with English subtitles.


Pit of Loneliness
Jacqueline Audry, Director 1950 : France : 100 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : In the latter half of the 1800s, an English schoolgirl falls deeply in love with one of her headmistresses in the French boarding school she attends.


Christine Ehm, Director 1984 : France : 90 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : Simone, a mysterious stranger, enters the life of Francoise, a suicidal woman, and the two explore their fantasies.

Therese and Isabelle

Radley Metzger, Director 1968 : France/West Germany/USA : 102 mintues : Lesbian : Drama : A woman reminisces about a love affair she had with a girl in boarding school.

Zoe The Boxer

Zoe le Boxeuse
Karim Dridi, Director 1992 : France : 24 minutes : Transsexual : Drama : A clever faux documentary which examines the story of a female boxer who became a man and murdered her manager.


Anna und Elisabeth

Frank Wysbar, Director 1933 : Germany : Lesbian : Drama : A peasant girl's touch heals the paralysis of the lady of the manor, and the lady soon discovers that she can't live without the girl.

Anna und Edith

Gerrit Neuhaus, Director 1975 : West Germany : Lesbian : Drama : Made-for-German-TV movie about two clerical workers who fall in love while trying to get better working conditions.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Die Bitteren Tranen der Petra von Kant
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Director 1972 : West Germany : 124 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A decadent fashion designer plays the dominant role in a sado-masochistic relationship with one of her employees, but she meets someone who turns the tables on her.

Depart to Arrive

Weggehen um Anzukommen
Alexandra von Grote, Director 1981 : West Germany : Lesbian : Drama : The story of the separation of a photographer and a journalist from the photographer's point of view.

Erika's Passions

Erikas Leidenschaften
Ula Stockl, Director 1978 : West Germany : Lesbian : Drama : A butch lesbian and her femme lover are accidentally locked in a room together after a long separation and are forced to confront each other's differences and complaints.

Female Misbehavior

Monika Treut, Director 1983-92 : Germany/USA : 80 minutes : Lesbian/Bisexual/Transsexual : Four short portraits of "misbehaving" females compiled: 'Bondage', about lesbian S&M-er, 'Annie', about ex-porn star Annie Sprinkle, 'Dr Paglia' and 'Max', about a female-to-male transsexual.

Girls in Uniform

Madchen in Uniform
Leontine Sagan, Director 1931 : Germany : 89 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : Considered by many to be the first radical lesbian-feminist film, in which a student at a repressive authoritarian Prussian boarding school finds comfort only in the companionship of a sympathetic teacher. It was remade in 1958 in English. See the original German version.

Handel und Wandel

Katharina Geinitz, Director 1983 : West Germany : Lesbian : Loving docudrama about the filmmaker's girlfriend -- a vital, energetic lesbian.

Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia

Ulrike Ottinger, Director 1988 : West Germany : 35 minutes : Lesbian : Adventure : Our heroine is invited on a trip by an affluent older woman. They travel to Mongolia where they are kidnaped by Mongolian Amazons, and the adventure begins.

Madame X -- Eine Absolut Herrscherin

Ulrike Ottinger, Director 1977 : West Germany : Lesbian : Drama : Women cannot resist the pirate Madame X, and board her ship in quest of gold, love, and adventure.

Mano Destra

Cleo Ueblemann, Director 1985-86 : West Germany : 53 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A relentless physiological experience of cinematic bondage and sensory manipulation. A European lesbian cult classic, this is S&M cinema.


Alexandra von Grote, Director 1984 : West Germany : 106 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : During WWII in France, a Frenchwoman hides her lover, a German Jew, from the Nazis.

Pandora's Box

G. W. Pabst, Director 1928 : Germany : 110 minutes : Bisexual/Lesbian : Silent screen classic about a girl whose loose morals take her from promiscuity to whoredom to a fatal encounter with Jack the Ripper. Along the way, she has a torrid affair with a lesbian countess and the countess's stepson.

Seduction: The Cruel Woman

Verfuhrung: die grausame Frau
Monika Treut, Director 1985 : West Germany : 84 minutes : Bisexual/Lesbian : Drama : Wanda is a gallery owner in Hamburg specializing in S/M art. Being a dominatrix isn't easy for her when she insists that all is performance, but her clients and would-be lovers want a "real" relationship.

The Virgin Machine

Monika Treut, Director 1988 : West Germany : 91 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A naive German journalist searches for love in San Francisco's lesbian underground.

What Shall We Do Without Death

Elfi Mikesch, Director 1980 : West Germany : 105 minutes : Lesbian : A female couple who have vowed to spend the rest of their lives together are the focus of this film about a retirement home in Hamburg.


Another Way

Egymasra Nezve
Karoly Makk, Director 1982 : Hungary : 109 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : Two journalists fall in love against the backdrop of the 1956 Hungarian uprising.


La Fuga

Paolo Spinola, Director 1967 : Italy : Lesbian : Drama : A well-to-do wife finds fulfillment with a lesbian interior decorator.

To Forget Venice

Dimenticare Venezia
Franco Brusati, Director 1979 : Italy : 105 minutes : Lesbian/Gay : Drama : In 1920s Italy, Anna and Claudia live in the country with Anna's Aunt Marta. Anna and Claudia have become bored with each other, but one day Aunt Marta's brother Nicky shows up with his young lover Picchio, and things start to change.



1993 : The Netherlands : 99 minutes : Lesbian/Bisexual : Drama : Irma Achten, Director Existential tale of a woman in search of herself and meaning in her life. Belle's lifelong commitment to her lover, Marthe, is the emotional lynchpin of her life. But when Belle's desperate desire for independence mutates into an obsession with power and control, she pushes Marthe out of her life. Still, though she marries to gain independence, her repressed love for Marthe continues to influence her life.

Rites of Passage

Gerda Heijnis, Director 1992 : Holland : 22 minutes : Female Transvestite : Drama : Operatic, industrial, and idyllic, this allegory of a cross-dressing girl and her mother offers an exquisite portrayal of lost and regained gender identity.

A Woman Like Eve

Een Vrouw als Eva
Nouchka van Brakel, Director 1979 : The Netherlands : 90 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : On vacation in France, a married Dutch woman falls in love with a French lesbian. When she attempts to divorce her husband, a bitter custody battle ensues.


To My Women Friends

1993 : Russia/Germany : 64 minutes : Lesbian : Natasha Sharandak, Director Revealing interviews with six Russian women convey the joys and hardships of being lesbian in Russia. Touches on a range of issues including women's prisons, trassexuality, lesbian and gay community, organizing, coming out, and homophobia.


Costa Brava

Marta Balletbo-Coll, Director 1996 : Spain : 92 minutes : Lesbian : Comedy : Anna is a tour guide/performance artist trying to raise money to mount her latest monologue-in-progress and take it to San Francisco, her "Holy Grail". Instead she gets sidetracked by a bisexual seismic engineer named Montserrat. The problem? Anna is a hotheaded narcissist, and Monserrat is a buttoned-down, sexually unresolved scientist. Opposites attract, but can they stick together?

Entre Tinieblas

Dark Habits
Pedro Almodovar, Director 1983 : Spain : 95 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : In a convent in Madrid, the Mother Superior has fallen in love with the female singer Yolanda. A hard-eged, intentionally offensive religious satire, not as original or as funny as Almodovar's later films.


1985 : Spain : Lesbian : Drama : A dark story of love and ambition behind convent walls. Sister Angela decides to fake stigmata to save her convent from ruin; her devoted lover reluctantly agrees. But Angela's scam brings them unexpected fame as well as new enemies who could destroy their relationship.

Pepi, Luci, Bom (and Other Girls in the Heap)

Pedro Almodovar, Director 1980 : Spain : Lesbian : Drama : An angry lesbian declares war on the Madrid police.


Butterfly Kiss

Michael Winterbottom, Director 1995 : UK : 88 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : This harrowing film of obsession, murder, and dependence begins when Eunice, a passionate and impulsive psychopath, meets Miriam, a lonely, introverted, and naive young woman who works at a gas station, cares for infirm mother, and constantly eats noodles. Eunice completely dominates Miriam with her directness and power. They embark on a search for Judith, the only person who ever loved or accepted Eunice before Miriam, and along the way Eunice constantly tests Miriam's devotion. Miriam sticks with her, though, even after she discovers that Eunice likes to pick up and murder men.

Confession of a Pretty Lady

Kris Clarke and Sarah Mortimer, Directors 1993 : UK : 70 minutes : Lesbian : Everything you ever wanted to know about Sandra Bernhard, from home movies to interviews with her mother, aunt, uncle, directors she's worked with, famous people who know her, and extensive footage taken from her movie and stage performances.

Domestic Bliss

Joy Chamberlain, Director 1984 : UK : 52 minutes : Lesbian : Comedy : Made-for-British-TV soap opera about a lesbian couple and their chaotic adventures.

Flesh & Paper

1990 : UK : Lesbian : The life and writings of the lesbian writer and poet Suniti Namjoshi, who is from an Indian royal family and resides in England. Includes interviews with her friends and with the young Indian women who take her as a role model.

The Gold Diggers

Sally Potter, Director 1983 : UK : 90 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : An actress and a mysterious woman on horseback come together while the actress searches for social roots.

In This House of Brede

George Schaefer, Director 1975 : UK : 100 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A young nun gets a crush on older one who wants to reciprocate but cannot.

The Killing of Sister George

Robert Aldrich, Director 1968 : USA/UK : 153 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : An aging lesbian actress loses everything, including her young lover, when the character she plays on a BBC soap opera gets killed off. Note that although this film was produced jointly by the US and the UK, it takes place in London, features a famous British lesbian bar, and almost everyone in the cast is British.

Loss of Heat

Noski Deville, Director 1994 : UK : 20 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : An expressive portrayal of two lesbian couples, one in Spain, the other in London, dealing with epilepsy.


Bille Eltringham, Director 1993 : UK : 28 minutes : Lesbian : Romance : A precocious girl with a serious crush pursues an older woman in this charming seaside romance.

The Mark of Lilith

Bruna Fionda, Polly Gladwin, and Isiling Mack-Nataf, Producers 1986 : UK : 32 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : Lillia, a white vampire, meets Zena, a black lesbian, at a horror movie, and the two embark on a bizarre relationship.

Miss A and Miss M

1987 : UK : 60 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A young girl slowly becomes aware of the true nature of the relationship between two school teachers.


Joy Chamberlain, Director 1990 : UK : Lesbian : Drama : A woman returns home for her mother's funeral and meets memories which are the key both to her self-repression and her desire.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

Beeban Kidron, Director 1989 : UK : 144 minutes, theatrical version; 3x120 minute episodes, mini-series version : Lesbian : Drama : Coming of age story about an iron-willed young woman who's been raised in a strict evangelical environment, and whose lesbianism scandalizes her equally iron-willed adoptive mother, and pretty much the rest of the church, too. Made by the BBC from the semi-autobigraphical -- and often very funny -- first novel by Jeannette Winterson.

A Place of Rage

Pratibha Parmar, Director 1991 : UK : 52 minutes : Lesbian : Lesbian filmmaker Parmar directs this tribute and celebration of African-American women and their accomplishments.

Portrait of a Marriage

Stephen Whittaker, Director 1990 : UK : Lesbian/Bisexual : 4x50 minute episodes : Biographical Drama : A made-for-TV period drama series featuring the relationships among Violet Keppel and Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson (played by Cathryn Harrison, Janet McTeer and David Haigh). Sumptuously made by the BBC and co-produced by WGBH. Based on the book by Vita and her son, Nigel Nicolson.

Richard's Things

Anthony Harvey, Director 1980 : UK : 104 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : Made-for-British-TV movie about a dead businessman's widow and mistress, who go from open hostility to falling in love with each other.

Sister, My Sister

Nancy Meckler, Director 1994 : UK : 102 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : Raised in a convent and separated at an early age, sisters Christine and Lea are reunited in the house of the tyrannical Madame Danzard, where they work as maids. Slaving away under the cruel eye of their mistress, they become acquainted with each other while battling demons of abuse and neglect. Tensions build to the breaking point when the Madame's daughter, Isabelle, triggers Christine's jealousy and fear of abandonment. Finally, when Madame becomes suspicious of the true nature of the sisters' love for each other, the stage is set for tragedy.

Twice a Woman

George Sluizer, Director 1985 : UK : 90 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A man becomes obsessed with the young female lover of his ex-wife.

Veronica 4 Rose

Melanie Chait, Director 1985 : UK : 45 minutes : Lesbian : A made-for-BBC documentary about teenage lesbians growing up in several diverse English cities.

Wild Flowers

Robert Smith, Director 1989 : UK : Lesbian : Drama : Two women discover love for each other in a fairly repressed corner of Scotland.

We've Been Framed

Cheryl Farthing, Director 1991 : UK : 25 minutes : Lesbian : Lesbians talk about the best, worst, and first lesbian film they've seen.

Women Like That

Suzanne Neild, Director 1991 : UK : 25 minutes : Lesbian : Follows eight of sixteen lesbians who participated in the 1990 British TV documentary "Women Like Us." Here the women discuss how their lives have changed since the broadcast of the original program.

Working Class Dykes From Hell

Jacquie Lawrence, Director 1992 : UK : 20 minutes : Lesbian : A Made-for-BBC look at working class British lesbians, who talk about class differences in the lesbian community, organizing political consciousness, and developing a sense of community.


Don't be shy about e-mailing me any GLBO-centered films that you don't find on this list, folks, but remember that to qualify for this list a film has to either be *about* a central GLBO character or have a GLBO character (or theme) so central to the plot that the film couldn't exist the same way without that character (or theme). Please try to provide as much information about the films as you can, including a capsule plot summary, and don't forget to sign your name to your letters so that I can acknowledge your contribution.

Please note that I have arbitrarily established a 30-minute minimum length requirement for films to be included on this list. This is because I view this list primarily as an entertainment resource, and feel that if you're looking for a couple of films to watch with your loved one(s) on a weekend, you're going to be much more interested in feature-length films than you are in experimental short subjects. There are literally hundreds of film shorts from 1 minute in length to 29 minutes in length which do not appear on this list, although if a film is, say, 25 minutes long and is about a subject or group which doesn't get much film time it just might find its way onto the list. Many, if not all, of the distributors above will provide you with a catalog of their films, including film shorts.

For more information regarding these and other GLBO-centered materials, notably books, periodicals, music, and some film shorts, get yourself a copy of this outstanding reference book:

Gay and Lesbian Library Service
edited by Cal Gough and Ellen Greenblatt
MacFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers

Many thanks to Ellen Greenblatt for giving me access to the film lists from this excellent resource book.

Another book I used to compile this list is "The Celluloid Closet" by Vito Russo. Russo's book is mostly about Hollywood's mistreatment of gay characters in films, but by the last chapter, films featuring accurate, sensitive, or at least interesting portrayals start showing up with more regularity.

Two books that will be of great help making this list accurate and complete (and that every film buff will want to have) are "Gay Hollywood, Film and Video Guide" by Steve Stewart, and "Images in the Dark, An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video" by Raymond Murray.

A thousand thanks to Frameline of San Francisco, without whose "San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival" program booklets, this would be a *much* shorter list! And finally, thanks for the contributions from:

Tom Abell, Sim DavidAberson, Arne Adolfsen, Diane Bailey, Nancy Barbour, Didier Beaumelle, Hector Bellmann, Richard Boehringer, Allen Briskin, Blair Buchta, Ron Buckmire, Mary Cardenas, Thomas Carlin, Vince Cavasin, David Peter Coster, Fred Curtis, Jeff Dauber, John DeSantis, Mike Drayton, James Drew, Michael Dunn, Ken Dykes, David Edelsohn, Lars Eighner, Michelle Elliott, Ellen Faed, Rob Fein, Beth Freeman, Tina Giangrande, Ellen Greenblatt, William Tzun-Yuk Hsu, Curtis Johnson, Karen Kinney, Richard Lamberty, Lew Lasher, Glenn Lewis, Tracey McCartney, Deacon Maccubbin, Gary Marcos, Robert A. J. Marshall, Bret Marquis, Valerie Mead, Steve Misek, Jorge Morales, Michele Mueller, Manuel Pece, Chip Phillips, Katie Phillips, Tim Pierce, Roy Radow, Randy A. Riddle, William Bradley Roberts, Jeff Shaumeyer, Glenn Slayden, Mike Shepherd, Daniel Sonnenfeld, Steve Stofflet, Tane' Tachyon, Alex Tan, Max Meredith Vasilatos, Ian Watters, Dave Williams, Jim Woulfe, and David Wyatt.

Frank Swilling