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Cicada (2020): An underrepresented look at queer relationships

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Cicada (2020) Strand Releasing

The queer dating scene in New York is often laced with recreational experiences and countless not-so fairytale endings. This romantic drama, Cicada (Matthew Fifer & Kieran Mulcare, 2021), steers through the trials of relationships between Ben (Fifer) and Sam (Sheldon D. Brown), and into discussions of interracial dating, closeted identity, sex addiction, and self-acceptance in the aftermath of traumatic events. (Lodge, 2020)

Fifer and Mulcare share their first credits as directors in this ninety-six minute feature. While Fifer split the writing credit with his co-lead, Brown. Mulcare was the most senior of the bunch, having a track record in episodic television as an actor. Ramfis Myrthil (The Broken Ones, A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.) and Jeremy Truong (TV’s Bridesman) produced the film.

Cicada (2020) Strand Releasing

This interracial gay love story has received much acclaim from its large festival run.

It has gathered Audience and Jury Prize Awards from festivals such as Image+Nation Festival Cinema LGBT Montreal Film Festival (2020), LesGaiCineMad (2021), OUTshine Film Festival (2020), NewFest (2020), Oslo/Fusion International Film Festival (2020), Out Film CT (2020), Roze Filmdagen (2021), and has been nominated for Best First Screenplay at the Film Independent Spirit Awards (2022). The film was set to premiere at the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival (2020), however, the pandemic shifted its debut to the Outfest Film Festival (2020) in Los Angeles.

Cicada (2020) Strand Releasing

Since ending its festival run the film has toured throughout the United States in limited release from Strand Releasing, a distributor that primarily focuses on foreign language, American independent, and documentary films; exhibiting in places such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tucson (AZ), and Brooklyn (NY). This coincided with its domestic (U.S.) PVOD release on November 5th (Strand Releasing, 2022). The film was also been picked up for theatrical and all media releases by Edition Salzgeber (Germany), Optimale (France), and Peccadillo Pictures (UK). Select screenings in Warsaw (Poland), Berlin (Germany), and London (England) provided audiences with in-person Q&As from the filmmakers. (IMDB, 2022)

The main reason for highlighting this film is the key underlying themes that have been personified in the story by the filmmaker and actor’s real-life experiences. Primarily, how both characters are dealing with personal trauma. As we follow Ben (Fifer) battling with childhood abuse, and Sam (Brown) that is reeling from a drive-by shooting in which he suffered a gun shot wound. Other notable themes in relation to LGBT+ relationships and coming out to family, or publicly, provide social talking point that we need to address audiences with.

Secondarily, we should also include this film as a case study for independent filmmaking. How these types of films can gain exposure and traction from film festival notoriety and limited theatrical screenings. Showcasing a greater need for LGBT+ content to be included in any curation, as a direct reflection of how underrated this community is perceived by the film industry as a whole.

Check it out, here:


IMDB (2022) Cicada, Available from

Lodge, Guy. (2020) Variety, ‘Cicada’ Review: The Pain and Poetry of Being Young, Queer, Troubled and In Love, Available from

Strand Releasing (2022) Available from

[images] Cicada (2020) Strand Releasing

** content provided is part of a film industry study at the University of Westminster, 2022

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