What better way to celebrate the occasion


This year’s Lesbian Visibility Week is from the 24-30 April. The week provides an important opportunity to both celebrate lesbians and equally show solidarity will all LGBTQIA women and non-binary people. At a time when queer women are almost twice as unlikely to be out in the workplace in comparison to gay men, this week is a vital opportunity to spread awareness and increase efforts at media representation. 

Cinema has always been a powerful way to tell queer stories. Lesbian cinema in particular has experienced significant shifts over the past couple of decades. Most people will know cult classics like But I’m Cheerleader, or more uncomfortably male-gaze-oriented depictions of lesbian love like Blue Is The Warmest Colour. In celebration of Lesbian Visibility Week, here are five indie films that consider complex lesbian characters and stories with the nuance and care they deserve. From teen coming-of-age classics to more serious pieces of cinema that highlight the complexities of navigating your sexuality, all of these films have inspiring lesbian protagonists.


Leonie Krippendorf’s 2020 film about a teenage girl coming out during one hot Berlin summer is a true gem of indie lesbian cinema. Fourteen-year-old Nora hangs out with her older sister Jule and Jule’s friend Aylin. When Nora realises she likes new girl Romy, she must contend with her feelings and understanding of her sexuality in this charming coming-of-age tale. Using the metaphor of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, Cocoon weaves a gentle narrative of self-discovery.  

The Watermelon Woman

The Watermelon Woman was released in 1996 and follows a Black lesbian filmmaker. Cheryl Dunye both directed and starred in the film as its protagonist, also called Cheryl. The Watermelon Woman is an iconic piece of nineties queer cinema. Over the course of the film we not only witness Cheryl’s new relationship with love interest Diana, but also the process behind her documentary about Faith Richardson. However, the film additionally highlights the ongoing obstacles in her way – from policemen who racially profile her in the street, to the destruction of Black lesbian archival material. The Watermelon Woman is an undeniably iconic and important watch for this year’s Lesbian Visibility Week.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire

It wouldn’t be a list of indie lesbian cinema favourites without mentioning this modern French classic. Written and directed by Céline Sciamma, this historical drama sees artist Marianne head to a distant island in Brittany to paint young noblewoman Héloïse. The tensions and emotions inherent in their interactions culminate in an explosive relationship. Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is beautifully filmed, encapsulating the simultaneous passion and brevity of this perfectly constructed, yet ultimately heart-breaking, romance. 


Based on the 2006 novel by Naomi Alderman, Disobedience follows the relationship between Ronit and Esti after the former returns home to her Orthodox Jewish community for her father’s funeral. Esti’s lesbian identity is a particular focus of the film, with the women’s love for each other the core of the narrative. Whilst the restrictions enforced by their faith limit their potential to act on their relationship fully, Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams’ performances are exceptionally poignant to watch.   


Olivia Wilde’s 2019 directorial debut is one of the best forays into the teen film genre to-date. One of its two young protagonists, Amy, contends with her lesbian identity throughout the film. From her crush on effortlessly cool skater girl Ryan to her somewhat unsuccessful attempt at romance with Hope in a house party bathroom, Amy epitomises teen uncertainty and insecurity. Booksmart’s emphasis on Amy and Molly’s friendship is also significant. Molly reassures Amy, encouraging her to pursue the women she likes in the friends’ final wild night before their high school graduation. It’s an undeniably joyful portrayal of a lesbian teen working out what she wants.

DIVA magazine celebrates 29 years in print in 2023. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 

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