The 100 Best Lesbian, Queer & Bisexual Movies Of All Time

Welcome to the new, periodically updated Best 100 Lesbian Movies Of All Time. Most recent update: March 2018. 

Films aimed at lesbian, bisexual and queer women have never exactly been noted for their universal excellence. Hollywood is a notoriously sexist machine and it’s hard enough to get a solid film about women made, let alone a solid film about women who prefer the company of other women. While unprecedented progress is being made on television, film lags sadly behind, offering few, if any, portrayals of LGBTQ women.

Curating a ranked list of the best 100 lesbian movies (and otherwise queer movies) of all time was not easy. It involved some rounds of nominations and voting from our own team members, Riese watching so many lesbian movies in such a short period of time that she lost her overall ability to determine “good” from “bad,” a surveyance of other lists and reading a ton of movie reviews to come up with the most objective list possible.

True story: it took us over a year to put the initial post together. We watched hundreds of LGBT films for women, literally HUNDREDS, to come up with these final rankings. Maintaining and updating the list has involved more than that, but also reading comments on the initial post and the follow-up post (which we’ve since removed, preferring instead to keep one post updated than to write multiple new posts).

Some notes:

  • There are some movies often lumped in with the “lesbian” category that are actually films about trans boys or men that you won’t see here, such as the excellent Boys Don’t Cry, Tomboy and By Hook or By Crook. 
  • We also ranked the films not only on how good they are, but on diversity as well as the quality of the gay lady storyline and characters. For example, The Hours and Monster are objectively two of the best films on this list, but they’re not in the top ten: the former for the extremely minimal screen time devoted to queer females, the latter because it was so depressing that we have still barely recovered.
  • We also left out films that relied solely on lesbian subtext or eliminated or sidenlined a lesbian storyline that was present in the book it was based on (A League of Their Own, Fried Green Tomatoes, Ghostbusters, The Color Purple) or where the lesbian character was so small or her sexuality was so subtle that you could watch the film and not even remember that there was a queer involved (e.g., Sunshine Cleaning, Boys on The Side).

There are more than 100 movies on this list now as we have continued to add to it.

The term “lesbian movies” is used in the headline because that is the most popular search term for people looking for films about women who like other women, but these movies feature women of all sexual orientations besides “straight.”

Please remember that when you disagree with rankings, it is best to do so with extra punctuation, lots of all caps, and well-honed insults.

120. Lost & Delirious (2001)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%
Directed by: Léa Pool
Written by: Judith Thompson
Starring: Piper Perabo, Jessica Paré and Mischa Barton

Most of us agree that this film was terrible, but its not without its merits. Like that cast, and those uniforms?

119. Below Her Mouth (2016)

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
Directed By: April Mullen
Written By: Stephanie Fabrizi
Starring: Erika Linder, Natalie Krill

This film earned high marks for going all-in with lesbian sex, and gets a spot on this list for that alone, despite being, at times, utterly insufferable. However, if we’d seen this in high school when we were figuring out our sexualities and weren’t already bored by its stale tropes, excruciating dialogue and the utter cliche of the lead character, it’d probably change our lives and make us all the lesbians we are today; but much earlier!

118. Go Fish (1995)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Directed by: Lawrence L. Simeone, Rose Troche
Written by: Donnie Jarman, George LePorte, Rose Troche, Guinevere Turner
Starring: T. Wendy McMillan, Guinevere Turner

It’s a classic. It holds a special place in the hearts of so many lesbians who remember a time when this was all there was, and its legend leaves many modern viewers stuck scratching their heads about why it was ever a thing. Well: while coming out stories are wildly important, it’s always lovely to see a lesbian story that focuses on what happens next. Go Fish is a fun, spunky film about the frustrating experience of finding love, even when it’s right under your nose.

117. Girltrash: All Night Long! (2013)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Alex Martinez Kondracke
Written by:  Angela Robinson
Starring: Michelle Lombardo, Gabrielle Christian, Mandy Musgrave, Rose Rollins, Kate French, Clementine Ford, Malaya Rivera Drew, Jessica Chaffin

There was a lot of drama around the release of this film, and we do stand with Angela Robinson, who did not approve the final cut of the movie. But it’s still pretty cute and worth a mention — it’s a rock musical chock-full of ladies you love to see play gay, like the lead actresses from South of Nowhere and Kate French, Malaya Rivera Drew, Clementine Ford and Rose Rollins from The L Word.

116. A Perfect Ending (2012)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Nicole Conn
Written by: Nicole Conn
Starring: Barbara Niven, Jessica Clark

Nicole Conn is a prolific lesbian filmmaker and, to be honest, usually her name on a title is a pretty good indication that we’re not watching a good movie. But a lot of queer women swear by her movies and love the heck out of ’em so we felt obligated to include at least one! If Pretty Woman had a baby gay baby with Nicholas Sparks, the result would be A Perfect Ending, a drama about a call girl with a heart of gold and an artist’s temperament who falls in love with a “straight” WASPy housewife who is dying of cancer. The ending may be perfect, but it’s sad as heck.

115. Entre Nous / Coup de foudre (1983) (France)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score:
Directed by: Diane Kurys
Written by: Olivier Cohen, Diane Kurys & Alain Le Henry
Starring: Miou-Miou, Isabelle Huppert, Guy Marchand

This story of two young married women who realize how unfulfilled they are in their marriages when they fall in love with each other takes place in the 1950s, with flashbacks set in World War II, when one of the women was placed in an internment camp for Jews. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

114. Puccini For Beginners (2007)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%
Directed by: Maria Maggenti
Written by: Mari Maggenti
Starring: Gretchen Mol, Justin Kirk, Elizabeth Reaser

This “screwball comedy of sexual confusion with lesbian inclinations” was made by Maria Maggenti, who also made The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love. It’s not a masterpiece, but out actress Sarah Croce and her two friends enjoyed watching it while eating Italian food, so.

113. Gray Matters (2006)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 8%
Directed by: Sue Kramer
Written by: Sue Kramer
Starring: Heather Graham, Tom Cavanagh, Bridget Moynahan, Molly Shannon, Saffron Burrows

Heather Graham stars in this cheesy, adorable rom-com about a ballroom dancer who falls in love with her brother’s girlfriend.

112. My Friend From Faro / Mein Freund aus Faro (2008) (Germany)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Nana Neul
Written by: Nana Neul
Starring: Anjorka Strechel, Lucie Hollmann

Just your classic German tale of a tomboy who assumes the identity of a Portuguese guy named Miguel after she plows down a pretty girl in the street.

111. It’s In The Water (1997)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Kelli Herd
Written by: Kelli Herd
Starring: Keri Jo Chapman, Teresa Garrett

In It’s In The Water, the whole town of Azalea Springs, Texas loses its damn mind when someone makes an offhand comment about having their water tested for The Gay. This film hits all the 90’s queer g-spots: beards, leather bars, AIDS, and anti-gay protesters foaming at the mouth. Plus some ladies making out in a supply closet, if you’re into that sort of thing.

110. Better Than Chocolate (1999) (Canada)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
Directed by: Anne Wheeler
Written by: Peggy Thompson
Starring: Wendy Crewson, Karyn Dwyer

Better Than Chocolate is not without flaws. It’s cliched and over-the-top; there’s a trans woman character played by a cis man; and the poster looks like some kind of Lisa Frank fever-dream, all of which we can probably chalk up to it being a film from the ’90s. If you can get around that, you can enjoy this endearing and charming love story about a girl who drops out of college to work at a lesbian bookstore, much to the adorable confusion of her chocolate-addicted mother. Fun fact: the actor who played the trans woman character also played Bob Corbett on Bomb Girls and Henrik on Orphan Black.

109. Tru Love (2014)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Kate Johnston, Shauna MacDonald
Written by: Kate Johnston, Shauna MacDonald
Starring: Kate Trotter, Peter MacNeill

The May/December romance at the heart of Tru Love is but one of the many complex relationships in this surprisingly layered film. Winner of nearly a dozen awards across the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and India, Tru Love might just make you want to believe in soul mates. Or fall asleep. Depends on your style.

108. The Sea Purple / Viola di Mare (2009) (Italy)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Donatella Maiorca
Written by: Donatella Maiorca
Starring: Valeria Solarino, Isabella Ragonese & Ennio Fantastichini

In this stunning 19th century period film, the powerful quarrymaster’s daughter falls in love with her childhood friend Sara when she returns to the remote Mediterranean island where they both grew up. Their affair scandalizes the island.

107. Bumblef*ck USA (2014)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Aaron Douglas Johnston
Written By: Cat Smits, Aaron Douglas Johnston
Starring: Cat Smits, Heidi M. Sallows, Jef Smith, John Watkins

Alexa moves from Amsterdam to a small U.S. town to film a documentary to help her make sense of her gay best friend’s suicide. While she’s there, she falls in love with a woman for the first time in her life. It only takes one summer for Alexa’s life to change forever.

106. When Night is Falling (1995) (Canada)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 50%
Directed by: Patricia Rozema
Written by: Patricia Rozema
Starring: Pascale Bussieres, Rachael Crawford

“My favourite film simply because it unashamedly clings to an impossible optimism,” wrote commenter Marriane. “I mean, come on … the dog comes back to life to the strains of the Hallelujah chorus. It was this kind of optimism that saw marriage equality germinate, take root and flower.”

105. Portrait of a Serial Monogamist (2016)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%
Directed by: Christina Zeidler & John Mitchell
Written by: Christina Zeidler & John Mitchell
Starring: Diane Flacks, Robin Duke

Elsie is a forty-year-old Jewish lesbian in Toronto who— after getting her heart broken at the tender age of 12  has bounced from serious relationship to serious relationship all her life, refusing to be single and perfecting her exit strategy. The film opens with Elise breaking up with her current girlfriend of five years and, for the first time in her life, finding herself unable to walk out the door of one monogamous situation and into the arms of another one. Heather Hogan called it “one of the best-written lesbian movies I’ve ever seen… incisive and very, very funny.”

104. Love My Life (2003) (Japan)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Koji Kawano
Written By: Hiroko Kanasugi, Ebine Yamaji
Starring: Asami Imajuku, Rei Yoshii, Ira Ishida

Based off the josei manga by Ebine Yamaji, Love My Life was a favorite of many commenters on our original list. “The joy of the film, aside from the relationship between the main character and her girlfriend,” Rhea said, ”is the one between her and her father as she learns more about him and her mother’s past.

103. Almost Adults (2017)

our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

A cute film that delivers some light charm with minimal offensiveness, starring Elise Bauman of Carmilla as lesbian tomboy femme Mackenzie and Natasha Negovanlis as her best friend Cassie, the last girl in the world not to notice that Mack is gay as hell.

102. Antonia’s Line (1996)

lgbtq ensemble characters // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 64%
Directed by: Marleen Gorris
Written by: Marleen Gorris
Starring: Willeke van Ammelrooy, Els Dottermans, Jan Decleir

This multi-generational film that explores the lineage of a World War II widow named named Antonia, who returns to her hometown to take care of her ailing mother. Danielle refuses to take a husband, but does want to have a child. After getting pregnant and giving birth, Danielle ultimately falls in love with her genius daughter’s tutor.

101. Daphne (2007) (UK)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Clare Beavan
Written by: Amy Jenkins, Margaret Forster
Starring: Geraldine Somerville, Elizabeth McGovern

Daphne is exactly the film you need, if the thing you’re missing from your life is Downton Abby’s Elizabeth McGovern in a depressing-as-fuck period drama about the unrequited lady loves of novelist Daphne DuMauier.

100. My Mother Likes Women / A Mi Madre Le Gustan Las Mujeres (2002) (Spain)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%
Directed by:Daniela Féjerman, Inés París
Written by: Inés París, Daniela Féjerman
Starring: Silvia Abascal

Long-divorced Sophia gathers her three daughters to share the news that she’s fallen in love! Hurrah! That love is the sapphic sort. Not-so-Hurrah.

99. BFFs (2014)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Andrew Putschoegl
Written By: Andrea Grano, Tara Karsian
Starring: Larisa Oleynik, Sean Maher, Pat Carroll

This fun buddy-movie-slash-romcom “takes female-driven to a whole new level,” according to out comedian Brittani Nichols, who wrote in her review of the film, “It’s a narrative that opens the doors for the discussion of sexual fluidity without making it corny or annoying and the best part of all is it’s funny.” It’s the story of two friends who fake being a couple to use a free trip to a Couples Retreat and discover while pretending to be girlfriends that there might be more to their friendship than they previously considered.

98. Liz In September (2015) (Venezuelan)

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Fina Torres
Written By:
Starring: Patricia Velasquez, Mimi Lazo, Danay Garcia

An adaptation of the American play Last Summer in Bluefish Cove that stars model/actress Patricia Velásquez as Liz, who takes a liking to Eva, a traveler whose car broke down nearby, landing her at the hotel owned by Liz’s friend Margot. All of Margot’s friends are lesbians, and everybody’s coming to town for Liz’s 37th birthday. Variety wrote that “this handsome romantic drama will be a crowdpleaser primarily among lesbian audiences in various formats.”

97. Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf? (2013)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Anna Margarita Albelo
Written By: Michael Urban, Anna Margarita Albelo
Starring: Agnes Olech, Carrie Preston, Guinevere Turner

A little bit quirky, and a little bit navel-gazey, this grown-up comedy looks at what it means to really have it all. Plus it has an all-female cast, one of whom literally romps around on stage wearing a vagina costume. If that’s not what you’re looking for in a film, you’re on the wrong list, my friend.

96. The Hunger (1983)

lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 46%
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Tony Scott
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon

Lesbian vampires? Check. Susan Sarandon? Check. David Bowie? Check. Major shoutout in The Miseducation of Cameron Post? CHECK CHECK CHECK.

95. Rough Night (2017)

lgbtq ensemble characters // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%
Directed By: Lucia Aniello
Written By: Lucia Aniello & Paul W. Downs
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz

There’s a lot about this film, on the surface, that might turn you off — but if you give it a chance, you might be surprised by how those things actually play out! Yes, the writing is often clumsy and there are some annoying, ridiculous plot holes. But it’s also a cute, funny and surprisingly feminist movie entirely about women with a non-chalant lesbian front-and-center (played by Ilana Glazer) who gets one of the film’s only rewarding romantic storylines.

94. The Intervention (2016)

lgbtq lead ensemble // lgbtq romance  // our review //

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Directed by: Clea DuVall
Written by: Clea DuVall
Starring: Clea Duvall, Natasha Lyonne, Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey

Clea Duvall directed this weekend-at-the-summer-house film about four couples of mostly old friends who plan a weekend away together to stage an “intervention” on one of the couples, who they’ve agreed needs to divorce. Obviously over the course of the weekend we realize that all these couples are dysfunctional and probably shouldn’t judge. It’s worth it to see Clea Duvall and Natasha Lyonne play a couple again and just to witness excellent performances from your favorite actresses, although the film’s central conceit never really earns its existence and the backstories of the characters often ring a little hollow.

93. The Summer of Sangalie (2015) (Lithuania)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%
Directed by: Alanté Kavaïté
Written by: Alanté Kavaïté
Starring: Julija Steponaityte, Aiste Dirziute

Summer love blooms between two teenagers in Lithuania who meet at an aerobatics show — a girl who dreams of being a pilot who’s spending the summer at her family’s lake house and the bohemian photographer and clothing designer she’s drawn to.

92. Drool (2009)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Nancy Kissam
Written by: Nancy Kissam
Starring: Jill Marie Jones, Laura Harring, Ashley Duggan Smith

A dark comedy that touches on abuse, assault and murder, but manages to be fun about it all.

91. Lovesong (2017)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Directed By: So Yong Kim
Written By: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray
Starring: Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Brooklyn Decker, Ryan Eggold, Rosanna Arquette

Sarah, a young mother left lonely by her marriage, is talked into a road trip with her college friend, Mindy, and their intense longtime friendship is shot through with “stolen kisses and college confessions [that] indicate there’s so much more between Sarah and Mindy than a best friendship.”

90. Red Doors (2007) (China)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 59%
Directed by: Georgia Lee
Written by: Georgia Lee
Starring: Jacqueline Kim, Tzi Ma, Elaine Kao, Freda Foh Shen

Red Doors tells the story of Ed Wong, a Chinese-American retiree who is coming to terms with his three daughters growing up. One of his daughters, Julie, falls in love with an actress. They struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their parents’ demands on their romantic lives.

89. Cloudburst (2013)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Directed by: Thom Fitzgerald
Written by: Thom Fitzgerald
Starring: Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, John Dunsworth

Ever wonder what would happen if Thelma and Louis were elderly lesbians? Cloudburst is the answer.

88. The Chinese Botanist’s Daughters /Les Filles Du Botaniste (2006) (China)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Sijie Dai
Written by: Sijie Dai, Nadine Perront
Starring: Mylène Jampanoï, Xiao Ran Li

Li Ming, an orphan of the Tangshan earthquake, finds a home with renowned and reclusive botanist. Li instantly connects with her new benefactor’s daughter, An. Soon their friendship turns into a secret and sensual love affair.

87. Itty Bitty Titty Committee (2007)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
Directed By: Jamie Babbit
Written By: Tina Mabry, Abigail Shafran
Starring: Nicole Vicius, Clea DuVall, Melonie Diaz, Daniela Sea, Marissa Ramirez

After getting dumped by her girlfriend, Anna meets a young feminist named Sadie who invites her to join Clits In Action (CiA) and forget her romantic woes. As Anna embraces radical activism, she also finds herself falling for Sadie, who is in a longterm relationship with an older woman who belongs to a more mainstream feminist organization.

86. You and Me Forever (2012) (Denmark)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance
Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Directed by: Kaspar Munk
Written by: Kaspar Munk
Starring: Julie Andersen, Frederikke Dahl Hansen, Emilie Kruse

Laura and Christie are best friends forever, until a rebel named Maria arrives on the scene and starts stealing Laura away.

85. Kissing Jessica Stein (2002)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%
Directed by: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Written by: Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt
Starring: Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt

Jessica Stein is frustrated by her dating experiences with men and decides to give women a shot when she connects with another woman who’s also never been in a lesbian relationship before. Funny, honest and down-to-earth, this romantic comedy was written by the two best friends who also star in the film.

84. Mädchen in Uniform (1931) (Germany)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Directed By: Leontine Sagan, Carl Froelich
Written By: Christa Winsloe, Friedrich Dammann
Starring: Emilia Unda, Dorothea Wieck, Hedwig Schlichter

Considered by many to be the first lesbian film, Mädchen in Uniform explores the relationship between a teenage boarding school student and one of her female teachers. Does that sound like the plot of Loving Annabelle to you? That’s because it is!

83. The Killing of Sister George (1968)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%
Directed By: Robert Aldrich
Written By: Lukas Heller
Starring: Beryl Reid, Susannah York, Coral Browne

Based on the 1964 play, The Killing of Sister George sees an aging television actress who has just lost her popular television role and is losing her relationship with a much younger woman. It was the first film to portray the interior of a lesbian nightclub. The film was given an X rating from the newly-formed MPAA due to its lesbian content, and thus failed at the box office. In The UK and Italy, some lesbian scenes were cut. The lesbian stereotypes prevalent in this film did none of us one single favor.

82. The Truth About Jane (2000)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Lee Rose
Written by: Lee Rose
Starring: Stockard Channing, Ellen Muth

We loved Stockard Channing as Rizzo, and we loved her as First Lady Abigail Bartlett. Now we have to love her as a mother unable to believe that her daughter Jane is in fact not too pure to be pink. Stockard delivers yet another knockout performance in The Truth About Jane, earning a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. This may have been the first queer movie you ever saw — it was for many of us!

81. I Can’t Think Straight (2008)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 16%
Directed by: Shamim Sarif
Written by: Shamim Shaif, Kelly Moss
Starring: Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth

This is another film that lesbians either love or hate, but this is the film that opened our hearts forever Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth, as they played Tala and Leyla, two women from very different backgrounds that fall in love on accident. Tala is a Jordanian Palestinian woman living in London and planning her wedding. Leyla is a British-Indian who is dating Tala’s BFF. They fall in love, fall apart, and fall back together again. It’s very sweet and pretty dang sexy.

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