Gay Cinema - Out of the Archive

Here are the pioneers, the iconoclasts, the brave - from landmark portraits of LGBT life preserved by the BFI National Archive to gay classics that blazed their own trail around the world.
Representation of LGBT characters in film and TV is a contentious subject, interwoven with the fight for equality which gathered pace through the latter half of the 20th century. If lesbians and gay men had cause for concern about how their lives were depicted on screen, bisexual and transgender representation was almost non existent. There have been glimmers of hope: the landmark features of the 60s, the ‘New Queer Cinema’ of the early 90s; the pioneering TV plays of the 70s, and the tabloid-bating serials which saw in the new Millennium. This collection offers a chance to look back, to revisit and discover - not just the icons of gay cinema but the lesser-known treasures. Many of these shorts and features were made with the backing of the BFI Production Board, which championed gay filmmakers throughout the 80s and 90s.
Read more Close
Rent for £1.00


Drama200012 minsDirector: Wiz

A teenager (Ben Whishaw) pays a sexually charged visit to the swimming pool.

Rent for £2.50

3 Steps to Heaven3 Steps to Heaven

Drama199587 minsDirector: Constantine Giannaris

Edgy mixture of black comedy and urban drama about a woman uncovering the hidden truths about her dead lover.

Rent for £3.50


Drama198293 minsDirector: Mai Zetterling

The borstal drama – billed as the female Scum – features Amanda York and Kathy Burke as inmates of a ruthless women’s prison.

Subscribe to watch


Biopic198693 minsDirector: Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman’s unique biopic of the 17th century Italian artist Michelangelo da Caravaggio is a powerful meditation on sexuality, criminality and art.

Rent for £1.00

The Chocolate AcrobatThe Chocolate Acrobat

Fantasy199538 minsDirector: Tessa Sheridan

An elderly woman in a care home strikes up a sensual, nostalgic relationship with a young nurse.

Rent for £2.50

A Bit of ScarletA Bit of Scarlet

Documentary199671 minsDirector: Andrea Weiss

Mapping how British film and TV depicts the gay and lesbian lifestyle, Andrea Weiss raids the archives for her funny and persuasive documentary.

Subscribe to watch

The Angelic ConversationThe Angelic Conversation

Animation & Artists Moving Image198581 minsDirector: Derek Jarman

The Angelic Conversation sees Derek Jarman conjure an evocative and radical visualisation of Shakespeare’s love poems. With narration by Judi Dench and music by Coil.

Currently unavailable

The ClearingThe Clearing

Animation & Artists Moving Image19937 minsDirector: Alexis Bistikas

An intriguing and poetic short film – a man (Derek Jarman) walking on Hampstead Heath is lured through the woods by the sound of a saxophone.

Subscribe to watch

Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis BaconLove Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon

Biopic199887 minsDirector: John Maybury

Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig star as artist Francis Bacon and his muse George Dyer in John Maybury’s darkly exquisite biopic.

Rent for £2.50

Madagascar SkinMadagascar Skin

Drama199591 minsDirector: Christopher Newby

John Hannah stars as a painfully shy gay man who escapes the city in Chris Newby’s extraordinary second feature.

Rent for £3.50


Fantasy199293 minsDirector: Sally Potter

Tilda Swinton stars in Sally Potter's dazzling interpretation of Virginia Woolf's novel.

Subscribe to watch


Historical drama197685 minsDirector: Derek Jarman

A distinctly bold and sensual reclaiming of gay history, Jarman here tells the sexually intense story of the 4th-century martyr.