Inside Out Gay Guide
Nothing says “~!~SUMMER~!~” to me like staying inside and watching movies…no seriously, I burn easy and I don’t look good in pro-mesh dolphin shorts. Thanks to the queer clouds above parting, the annual Inside Out Film Fest is here, with so many excuses to hide away in a dark, air-conditioned movie theatre full of queer people.
Bringing together talents and voices from all over the globe, the film fest (with a brand new executive director!) curates an astounding selection of LGBTQ+ films and filmmakers. That being said with a tree ripe with great films at your picking, it can be daunting to choose which fruits you want to create the ultimate salad.
Here are the top 10 films to see at Inside Out 2017.
*I want to preface this list by saying that every film, both feature and short, being screened are worth checking out! We queer people often have a lost voice and a lost history and festivals like this empower up-and-coming, new, current, and classic queer artists to continue making their voices heard and collecting our stories for our community.*
Fifty years after the sex icon's untimely death, Mansfield 66/67 carries out a delightfully absurd investigation into the relationship between Jayne Mansfield and Anton LeVay's Church of Satan.
Combining archival material, quirky song and dance performances, and interviews with queer cultural icons that include John Waters and Cheryl Dunye, husband directing team Ebersole and Hughes explore the final years of Mansfield's life a true story based on rumour and hearsay. Akin to a campy episode of Law and Order, becoming involved with Satanism seems like a promising solution for a fading Hollywood starlet who is struggling to remain relevant.
Grease. Can’t Stop the Music. Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles. Rob Lowe and Snow White at the 1989 Academy Awards. The mastermind behind them all? The flamboyant, caftan-loving, creative genius, Allan Carr.
After almost 20 years working in television and producing a string of minor b-movies, Carr finally hit the jackpot with Grease, the highest grossing film of 1978. The subsequent money and fame made Carr the toast of Tinseltown, and his hedonistic parties, overflowing with cocaine and beautiful blond boys, were the place to be. But his success led to a string of disastrous career decisions—including Grease 2, Where the Boys Are, the Village People flop and the Oscars debacle—and it all came crashing down around him.
Imagine a gritty, Irish version of Bridesmaids and throw in a convention-bending lesbian twist. The result is A Date for Mad Mary, an irresistibly charming, intelligent film that's as fierce as its titular character.
Mary (SeÁna Kerslake) is angry. Fresh out of prison, she's trying to reconnect with her former, soon-to-be married best friend, Charlene. As defiant as ever, Mary seeks to win back Charlene's approval and save their flailing friendship. Her plan? To spite Charlene's predictions and instead find a proper date for the wedding. Mary's string of hilariously bad choices takes an unexpected turn when Jess, the wedding videographer, enters the picture.
With a star-making performance by lead actress SeÌÁna Kerslake, A Date for Mad Mary is a delightfully funny and tenderly human portrait of self-discovery.
Rebels on Pointe is an affectionate and entertaining celebration of the world famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the all-male drag ballet that mixes high art with sharp humour as it parodies the conventions and clichés of classical ballet.
Established more than 40 years ago from the social upheaval of post-Stonewall New York, and surviving through the worst years of the AIDS crisis, the company has developed a cult following around the world, performing in over 500 cities and 33 countries.
Hart’s documentary juxtaposes rich archival material detailing the history of the Trocs with behind-the-scenes access and captivating performance footage. The heart of the film, however, is the stories of the dancers, providing an intimate glimpse beneath the tights and tutus at a talented troupe of drag ballerinas who are breaking stereotypes with passion, determination and impressive technical proficiency.
With its sensitive portrayal of trans women employed in sex work, Hold Me Like Before captures an intelligent and intimate part of Costa Rica that is rarely portrayed on film.
Verónica (luminous newcomer Jimena Franco) is driven by a need to help people. When a cab she is riding in hits street kid, Tato, she immediately brings him home and tends to his injuries. Verónica’s roommate Greta thinks Tato is trouble but Verónica only sees someone in need of a hand.
Drawing well-earned comparisons to Tangerine, Hold Me Like Before’s minimalist plot is rife with emotion and longing, slowly and quietly working its way into your heart, where it will stay.
Stop me if you love heard this one. Zaynab, a queer Muslim Pakistani woman, walks into a bar and meets Alma, a Mexican woman. Their repartee is charming and their connection immediate, but that's just the beginning.
Zaynab (Fawzi Mirza from the webseries Her Story) is stuck. She lives with her widowed TV-obsessed mother (Shabana Azmi) but takes great pains to hide everything from her, including her love of wrestling and her sexuality. Alma (Sari Sanchez), on the other hand, gives Zaynab's routine a much needed shakeup, and what starts as a casual affair begins to deepen. Zaynab's discomfort with her sexuality and her dysfunctional relationship with her mother, however, threaten to drive the young women apart.
More than your average romantic comedy, Signature Move is as much a celebration of diversity as a testament to female strength, where women are paramount as lovers, wrestlers, mothers and daughters.
Revisiting the past can be nostalgic and heartwarming but can also bring with it confusion and heartbreak. In Sisterhood, director Tracy Choi takes on the complicated task of looking back on one woman's life and, in particular, at her relationship with her best friend, Ling.
When Sei starts working at the massage parlor, Ling takes her under her wing. When Ling discovers that she is pregnant, Sei proposes that they raise the baby together. Happy in their special bond, it seems as if nothing can get in their way. But when neighbours begin to gossip about the relationship, and a young man begins courting Sei, the friends' carefree life starts to crack, and eventually sets the women on separate paths. Twenty years later, after she learns that Ling has passed away, Sei returns to Macau to put the pieces together and discover the truth about the end of their relationship.
Created in a culture of homophobia, Tracy Choi’s Sisterhood takes a brave and beautiful look at the fine line that can exist between friendship and romantic love.
Guðmundsson’s feature debut, Heartstone, is a beautifully rendered and sensitive story of two boys living in a small town. In the same way that their turbulent sexual and emotional states are immediately familiar, so too is their unmistakable sense of hope amid the realities of growing up.
Set against the brooding backdrop of a rural Icelandic fishing village, Christian and Thor are best friends on the cusp of puberty. They both have difficult home lives. Christian’s alcoholic father is abusive and Thor’s single mother is back on the dating scene, leaving him in the custody of his two bullying older sisters. Yet the boys find solace in each other’s company. Just when Christian’s feelings toward Thor grow more complicated, two local girls enter the picture, leaving a friendship irrevocably changed.
Grounded by two outstanding performances from the young leads, Heartstone offers a raw, understated glimpse into the awkward, often painful promise of youth.
9. Hello Again
Where does sex end and love begin? When do fantasy and reality diverge? Bringing together stars of stage and screen, Tom Gustafson (Were the World Mine, Getting Go) returns to Inside Out with the highly anticipated gender-bending film adaptation of Michael LaChiusa's 1994 musical, Hello Again, inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's landmark play Der Reigen and Max Ophüls's subsequent Oscar-nominated film, La Ronde.
From 1901 to the present, Hello Again presents a series of ten vignettes in which ten characters pair up in various configurations and time periods, with a panoply of sexual proclivities. Jack (Tyler Blackburn) has sex with Robert (Cheyenne Jackson) who has sex with Sally (Audra McDonald) who has sex with Ruth (Martha Plimpton). And while they experience the immediate pleasures of sex, their hearts are left wanting.
From operetta to swing to pop, the music of Hello Again strikes an emotional chord in this bittersweet exploration of sex and love.
10. Tom of Finland
Imagine your ideal man. Is his leather stretched tightly across his impossibly muscular body? Is his mustachioed face the vision of masculinity? Enter: Tom of Finland, as he is known to the world, but introduced to us here as Touko Laaksonen, the visionary artist behind those infamous charcoal drawings.
A decorated officer, Touko Laaksonen returns home after serving his country in World War II. But life after the war does not necessarily bring him peace. The only place that Touko finds refuge from homophobic Helsinki is in his art. Under his secret signature, Tom of Finland, Touko creates hypersexual drawings of muscular men that would eventually become a symbol of freedom and expression for a generation of gay men.
From a World War II soldier to the forefather of the leather scene, to becoming a voice at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic, Tom of Finland is a beautiful story of a courageous man who stands at the centre of the gay revolution.
Be sure to check allll the other films screening this year and use their handy Festival Planner. it’s a fab way of bookmarking the films that interest you, viewing trailers, and purchasing your tickets.