Hot Docs 2017 Gay Guide

Hot Docs 2017 Gay Guide

Since 1993, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival has nurtured the visions of local and international documentarians alike and brought their true-to-life visions to the big screen. With each passing year, LGBT content at the festival has evolved and 2017’s line up of queer documentaries is no exception.

To help break it down, Yohomo has previewed seven of the most buzzed-about queer documentaries of the year.  And don't forget about Hot Cocks, the official gay Hot Docs party, happening Saturday, April 29. 


Whitney Can I Be Me

This is as close as you're going to get into the life of Whitney before (hayyy little Nippy!), during and after her tragic passing. This doc looks at her relationship with Bobby and access to some amazing and rare archival footage, home movies and concert performances. It's revealing, intimate, raw, and fierce as hell, and a chance to worship our R&B queen, even just for an hour or so. 

Premieres Friday, April 28



Grey Violet — Odd One Out

A timely portrait of Putin’s anti-queer “propaganda” law in Russia, Grey Violet — Odd One Out depicts the frightening surge of global xenophobia and potential consequences of Trump’s newly minted administration. The eponymous subject, a gender non-conforming activist and performance artist, struggles for political visibility and inadvertently skewers armchair activism in the new conservative era. This one's Co-presented by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Premieres Saturday, April 29


Susanne Bartsch: On Top

One of the foremost tastemakers of countercultural 1980s New York City nightlife, party promoter Susanne Bartsch influenced legions of underground queens, including Rupaul and Amanda Lepore. The Swiss born iconoclast and “Queen of the Night” has been throwing outlandish parties in New York for decades, inspiring major avant garde designers like Vivienne Westwood and generations of club kids along the way. In 1989, at the height of the AIDS crisis, Bartsch channelled her celebrity to raise awareness for the epidemic with the Love Ball which raised millions The documentary about the survival of Manhattan’s matriarch of nightlife looks to be one of the standout queer moments at this year’s festival.

Bartsch will be in attendance at the Hot Docs world premiere Monday, May 1



Local filmmaker and landscape architect Joseph Clement’s documentary Integral Man is one of the festival’s most anticipated films. The documentary details the career of late mathematician and philanthropist James Stewart whose Rosedale mansion, which he named Integral House, has been the subject of much discourse in the design and architectural worlds. Stewart interviewed numerous architects including Frank Gehry to design and construct the home before settling on Toronto firm Shim-Sutcliffe Architects. The architectural masterpiece doubled as a musical performance space and private residence for the eccentric genius. The film captures the final months of Stewart’s life as he was battling cancer and preserves the legacy of Integral House which sold privately in 2016.

Premieres Tuesday, May 2



Forbidden Games

Justin Fashanu rose to fame in 1980 leading a generation of black footballers through the English league. He became the first openly gay athlete on the pitch with talent, swag, charima, uniqueness and talent. He' one of Britain's most celebrated athletes ever and he did it all in the Thatcher era. The film follows his struggle with issues of race and sexuality in professional sports in a time before it was even a topic that was discussed. 

Premieres Tuesday, May 2




Chavela tells the story of prolific Mexican musician Chavela Vargas who became a defining voice in Latin American music during the 1950s. The doc charts the lesbian diva’s career and influence on Latin American audiences, her fearlessly queer renditions of folk classics and her public subversion of traditional gender norms. The baritone vocalist had a profound impact on Mexican culture before her death in 2012 at the age of 93. Co-presented by Canadian Music Week and Small World Music Festival, Chavela aims to break the icon’s catalogue open to younger generations and continue the dialogue on visibility for queer women in music.

Premieres Wednesday, May 3


House of Z

A rare glimpse into one of the most recognizable global fashion brands, House of Z pulls back the curtain on designer Zac Posen’s storied design career. The American designer cut his teeth at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City before embarking on a massively successful career. In 2013, Posen took the reins from fellow retail giant Michael Kors and replaced him as official judge on reality TV show Project Runway which catapulted Posen’s brand into cultural ubiquity.

Posen will be in attendance at the premiere with a Q&A moderated by Jeanne Becker. Premieres Wednesday, May 3



Rebels on Pointe

New York City’s Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo mixes high art with clever camp. They are a troupe of drag ballerinas that mix humour and skill, makeup and shoes. They have a cult following in Japan, here in Canada and in Scotland, and this cute doc shows off their best work and go underneath the tutus to give you a close look at these brave men of Ballet.

Premieres Thursday, May 4



Here are a few more queer and queer-interest films you might want to take a gander at.

Girl Inside

La Chana