5 Short Films on the Challenges of Queer Teenagers

Luis De Filippis

When you don’t much have time and want to watch a good movie, a short film is the best choice. In addition, many themes, emotions, visual techniques, character development or a sudden turn of the story are often included in 5-10 minutes, which is even more intense and makes us feel the power of cinema.

The experiences of queer teenagers and the challenges of self-determination are not discussed in cinema often. And the 5 movies listed in this article, which you can watch on the way from home to work, reflect the stories of queer teenagers. Besides, you will be able to see all five movies in the article itself.

The Orphan

FiGa Films

Karolina Markowicz’s 2018 film won the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. The Orphan tells us about a teenager, Jonathan, who moves from an orphanage to live a family and starts to get closer to them. At the same time, we see his path of self-discovery, playing with gender boundaries, which his new family also notices. Although we hardly come across any negative phrases regarding adolescent self-determination, facial expressions and looks make us realize that Jonathan’s identity is not acceptable for the new family.

According to the director, the film was inspired by stories told by a social worker friend about children being returned to shelters by families. Markowicz personally met a gay boy raised in an orphanage who had first-hand experience and heard his story.

The film tells us about the often hidden, less pleasant side of adoption, when families fail to accept children for who they are and subject them to personal demands.

Raw Love

La Movida Films

The 2009 film by Juan Chappa and Martin Deus follows two friends, Jeremiah and Ivan, who spend the last days of school hanging out with their friends, spending the nights together, talking about girls and worrying about exams. At the same time, they go through the process of sexual self-determination.

The film is about the awkwardness that comes with being attracted in teenage years, which is exacerbated by the attitudes that exist around queerness in society. All this burdens one of the main characters and he tries to find a way to share his feelings openly.

Every dialogue in the film, be it with parents, teachers or friends, reveals how much the environment is adapted to heterosexuality and how it tells us that it is better to remain silent, not to reveal what we feel or think.

For Nonna Anna


The 2018 film by trans-Arab director Louis de Filippis won the Special Jury Prize in the Short Film category at the Sundance Film Festival. For Nonna Anna tells the story of a young transgender girl, Anna, who takes care of her elderly, disabled grandmother. In this process, he finds common emotional and physical signs with him.

The film is only thirteen minutes long, and during this time we also learn about Anna’s childhood, the period when she wore her grandmother’s dresses, we see her anger and fatigue, which often accompanies caregiving, and the theme of the old woman’s bodily self-perception unfolds before our eyes, which is rarely talked about.

The film is about the bonds that unite people of different ages, experiences and looks – about lack of self-esteem, embarrassment, difficulties of accepting one’s own body. At the same time, the film also shows how much power the spirit of one person has to strengthen another.


A Conspire Pictures / Film London / Western Edge Pictures ProductionIn Toby Fell-Holden’s 2015 film, British teenager Tina falls in love with Dana, an Afghan migrant girl. The story of degrading treatment and prejudices towards migrants, issues of physical, psychological and sexual violence in the family, the painful process of sexual self-determination and the destructive nature of rejection are packed into 17 minutes.
Tina, despite the fact that Dana spends most of her time at home and manages to look at her only when she goes out on the balcony, finds a common language with the girl, shares her experiences and tries to be the only person who does not turn her back on her. But the story unfolds in such a way that you will be surprised.
We have listed the topics that the film deals with, but the main thing to say is how we take a subjective look at the lives and experiences of others, how we create the most understandable version for us, and often we don’t even think about what truth can be hidden behind the surface.


In Jens Choong’s 2013 film, two teenage boys, Victor and Robert, spend their last day together before Victor moves to another city—skating, painting graffiti on the walls of abandoned buildings, running from pursuing policemen, and enjoying the view from rooftops.

However, on the last day of this friendship, their relationship changes a little, we observe their sincere doubts, emotions, the process of dealing with losses, heartbreak, and we also see that the end of Victor and Robert’s time together is the beginning of something new – self-determination, transition to a new stage of adolescence.

The film tells us the story of the first, still unformed love and the heartache of separation with small nuances – touching hands, leaning head on shoulder, minor dialogues.