Since 1991, Inside Out has been one of the world’s premiere LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) film festivals. The annual Toronto-based fest kicked off last night, bringing together filmmakers and audiences in a celebration of the best queer film from Canada and beyond.
Running from May 17th to the 27th the Toronto LGBT Film Festival will feature screenings, filmmaker Q&As, panels, installations at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox. With more than 200 films being screened at this year’s fest, Inside Out is literally the biggest and most important event of its kind in Canada.
Among this year’s highlights are Cloudburst (which we reviewed in our Canadian Film Fest piece), Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee Bullhead, and Hot Docs prize winner Call Me Kuchu. As for the rest of the fest, Dork Shelf film writers Phil Brown, and Brandon Bastaldo have taken a look at some of this year’s other Inside Out offerings. Read their reviews below.
Directors: Dominique Cardona, Laurie Colbert
Directed by Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, and written by Colbert and Margaret Webb- it’s fair to say that that Margarita certainly has a ladies touch. We’re introduced to Margarita (Nicola Correia Damude), who is a live in house keeper (and so much more) for an upper middle class family.
Margarita is pretty much the super nanny you would die for: she cooks, she cleans, she even repairs the roof and Damude is well cast as this strong and honourable hard working woman. Although Margarita is light fun, the film often finds itself pushing boundaries. An unofficial Canadian citizen, Margartia is threatened by deportation which as a result raises issues about Margarita’s ability to practice her sexual orientation and because of this Margarita is deals with the tough realities this house keeper/ immigrant/ lesbian extraordinaire unique situation affords.
When the financially affluent, but emotionally devoid, couple who used to employ Margarita are forced to take up house hold duties themselves, they come to find that the biggest chore they have neglected is their teen aged daughter Mali (Maya Ritter), who has relied upon Margarita as role model. Shot in Toronto, Margarita is an easy going, yet conscious expose of a queer immigrant’s perspective. (Brandon Bastaldo)
Saturday, May 19, 7:15pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Kiss Me (Kyss Mig)
Director: Alexandra-Therese Keining
More than anything else, Kiss Me proves that even the simplest idea can work when executed with conviction by a group of talented collaborators. The story is deliberately threadbare, Mia (Ruth Vega Fernandez) visits her father—who she hasn’t seen in years—for his engagement party and announces her own engagement to her 7-year boyfriend/business partner. Then, when Mia is unexpectedly left alone on the island estate with her stepmother to-be and future stepsister Frida (Liv Mjones), a sudden and instant attraction develops between the semi-siblings despite the fact that Mia has never openly expressed that side of her sexuality. Rather quickly, the pair fall in love and Mia realizes that she might have to abandon everything she has built and knows in her life for a new relationship.
Pretty basic torn-lovers stuff with a lesbian twist; however, writer/director Alexandra-Therese Keining takes her time to develop the love story between her two leads naturally and sensually. It’s unabashedly romantic and works thanks to two painfully honest performances as well as Keining’s knack for shooting steamy love scenes without ever slipping into softcore. Sure, Mia’s boyfriend has little to do other than devolve into jealous rage, but in a movie landscape where most token female love interests are irritatingly one-note, it’s at least a change of pace. Keining’s script playfully toys with romance clichés and when the chemistry between the leads of this sort of movie is this strong, it’s hard to go wrong. Given the modest ambitions of the project, Kiss Me also can’t be described as anything less than a success. (Phil Brown)
Friday, May 25, 9:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Director: Kieran Turner
There’s something unexplainable about Kieran Turner’s Jobraith A.D., a docu-bio dedicated to the unsung and tragic praise for Jobriath Salisbury’s glittering genius. Sitting in aged dressing rooms and fore grounded by vanity mirrors, Jobraith A.D. collects the opinions of Los Angeles and New York’s oldest stage performers, family, and friends to tell this peculiar story of a man whose reputation as the gay messiah of the music industry follows 30 years after his death.
Turner delivers a curious surplus of testimony and praise for Jobriath, the first openly gay musician signed to a major record label. But as Jobriath’s sleazy and often incompressible manager Jerry Brandt makes grand claims (saying that Jobriath got more attention than any other artist in the history of the business) the astounding praise for the first true performance artist is at time wacky and Zoolander-esque.
Still, confronted with images and sounds of Salisbury’s raw talent, we cannot deny the flare of this trendsetter whose career stayed in the shadow of glam rock king David Bowie, and suffered because of the sad fact that audiences were not ready to submit to an openly gay man’s charms. Part of Inside Out’s Icon documentary series, Jobriath A.D. is a bedazzled account and celebration of a man whose grand talent and musical genius will leave you haunted. (Brandon Bastaldo)
Saturday, May 26th, 4:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1