TIFF Gay Guide 2017
From lurid tales of the Golden Age of gay Hollywood to the guts and glory of a star-studded Billie Jean King biopic, #TIFF17 has never felt more queer. Here is Yohomo’s top 10 queer films to see during the 2017 film festival.
Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami
Director: Sophie Fiennes
United Kingdom, Ireland
“Sometimes you have to be a high-flying bitch,” coos nightlife legend, fashion icon and vocalist Grace Jones with her signature raspy voice in the trailer to the upcoming documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami. The highly anticipated film from director Sophie Fiennes (Show and Tell, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema) looks to be a gorgeous companion piece to her recently published autobiography I’ll Never Write My Memoirs.
A Skin So Soft (Ta Peau Si Lisse)
Director: Denis Côté
Canada, Switzerland, France
Quebecois film critic and director Denis Côté has crafted a spectacular documentary in A Skin So Soft (Ta Peau si Lisse). The film follows several body builders whose preoccupation with vanity and competitiveness borders on the obscene. The film, which screened at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, tracks the lives of six brawny men in the lead up to their next match.
Director: Limor Shmila
From TIFF's own Jane Schoettle: "Emotionally calibrated but never heavy handed, Montana underscores the belief that, when one is faced with a moral choice, love can't — and shouldn't — be used as an excuse for silence."
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
Director: Matt Tyrnauer
One of the most hotly-anticipated documentaries at this year’s festival, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood recounts Scotty Bowers’ stunning career as a gay pimp to the stars. The documentary, which just screened at Cannes, is adapted from Bowers’ tell- all memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Lives of the Stars.
Battle of the Sexes
Directors: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Farris
Fresh off the heels of her Academy Award winning performance in La La Land, Emma Stone stars as tennis prodigy Billie Jean King who defeated male tennis star Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) in the eponymously titled match in 1973. The match was a television ratings phenomenon and a watershed moment for women’s tennis. King later came out in 1983 through an ugly legal battle in which her partner Marilyn Barnett filed for palimony. The suit cost King millions in endorsements, but she would later cement herself as a queer and feminist icon. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris, famous for directing iconic music videos for artists that include R.E.M., Janet Jackson and The Smashing Pumpkins, have brought a biopic rich in the Hollywood glitz with which TIFF has become synonymous.
A Fantastic Woman
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Selected to compete for the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, A Fantastic Woman combines elements of drama and horror to tell the story of a May-December romance gone morbidly awry. The Chilean film, directed by Sebastián Lelio (The Year of the Tiger, Gloria), is an allegory that underscores contemporary notions of gender performance and transphobia.
A Worthy Companion
Directors: Carlos & Jason Sanchez
Perhaps what’s most exciting about A Worthy Companion is that the Canadian production is a straight-ahead thriller that just happens to feature queer characters in leading roles. Laura (a steely Evan Rachel Wood) is a woman in her mid-thirties who falls for Eva (Julia Sarah Stone), a troubled 16-year-old pianist. The elation doesn’t last for long and things quickly come apart at the seams. The directorial debut comes from Carlos & Jason Sanchez, two Montreal-based fine art photographers, and brothers who have a promising debut on their hands.
120 Battements Par Minute (BPM (Beats Per Minute))
Director: Robin Campillo
Winner of four awards at Cannes, including the Grand Prix, BPM is a dramatization of the efforts of the French chapter of ACT UP — the international AIDS activism organization that was instrumental in pressuring governments to expedite the research and subsequent administering of life-saving medications. Directed by screenwriter and director Robin Campillo (Eastern Boys), who was also an activist with ACT UP, BPM follows members of the group in Paris during the 1990s at the height of the AIDS crisis. An absolute must see.
Director: Clement Virgo
Filmmaker and director Clement Virgo’s (Lie With Me, The Wire) seminal, experimental film that follows the struggles of five characters gets remounted in the Cinematheque retrospective program. The ground-breaking 1995 film, which sees a black boxer grappling with internalized homophobia, screened at Cannes upon its release and went on to become one of the most influential films in Canadian cinema.
Director: Ingrid Veninger
Actor, professor and director Ingrid Veninger (i am a good person/i am a bad person) makes her return to the director’s chair with her sixth film Porcupine Lake, a sun-drenched story of two young girls who find themselves drawn to one another one summer in small town Ontario. Produced through Veninger’s own production company Punk Films, Porcupine Lake is a coming of age story from one of Canada’s most celebrated female directors.
The Gospel According to André
Directed by: Kate Novack
An intimate portrait of the fearsome, larger than life contributing editor at Vogue, The Gospel According to André is a verité style glance at one of the most influential voices in fashion. With appearances by Anna Wintour, Valentino and Marc Jacobs, The Gospel According to André is yet another title rounding out TIFF’s killer 2017 documentary line up.