Runtime: 102 min
David Lambert’s second feature film (his first, Beyond The Walls, played VQFF 2013) tackles the realities of the gay-for-pay industry, emotional labour and loneliness. Lucas, an Argentinian camboy, begs for anyone online to send him a plane ticket to escape his life. Henry, a portly middle-aged Belgian baker answers his request—but nothing turns out as expected once Lucas meets Audrey, the baker’s employee (played by the lovely Monia Chokri from Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats). In a film that is immensely likeable and authentic in its quirkiness, writer/director David Lambert succeeds in creating a multi-layered reflection of lives shaped by the supply and demand of love, friendship—and, in this wonderful instance, bread.
Runtime: 53 min
A hint of Vancouver photographer Rosamond Norbury’s many surprises emerges once she shows you the prints: black-and-white nudes, homoerotic cowboys, and bearded ladies. Better Than Chocolate producer Sharon McGowan gives us a Norbury that “illuminates the peripheral” from her photography career’s start in the rodeo world, to drag queen culture, to the TV series Kink and beyond. This edgy local documentary offers though-provoking interviews on Norbury’s early life and her dad “the original drag queen in [her] life,” before moving on to Norbury’s identity as omnisexual and her alter egos Rod Bush, the greaser gay boy, and Rose Bush, the flourishing queen. A groundbreaking artist fully entrenched in the communities she photographs, Norbury shifts the phallocentric culture of photography to an unknown place, or in her words: into a “surprise that unfolds in front of me.”
*please note that Sharon McGowan was incorrectly listed as the director of Better than Chocolate in our festival guide. Of course, Anne Wheeler was the film’s director, and we apologize for the error.
Runtime: 55 min
The sexiest, most sensual, romantic queer kink silent film of the year, brought to you by queen of fetish lesbian noire and BDSM, Maria Beatty. A woman in ballet shoes dances pointe across her lover; a long-lashed, stilettoed figure plays harp; the camera traipses between a woman wrapped in a snake and a white-winged burlesque dancer. In this silent film set to its own original score, four women are bound together in a dream-like state as their pleasure and pain overlap and their souls entangle. In this alluring mélange of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Crash Pad, queer erotica connoisseur Maria Beatty propels us to an otherworldly, breathtaking land of knife play, lipstick, gas masks, black latex, veils and swan dildos. Fluttering with cinematic beauty, The Black Widow is an edgy, gothic embrace of kink, pleasure and a reminder that the best gifts come outside of the box.
Runtime: 97 min
The Blue Hour transforms the queer coming-of-age love story into an exciting supernatural thriller thanks to the skilled approach of first-time feature director Anucha Boonyawatana. Tam is a queer teen unhappy with his school and home life who seeks refuge in casual sex with Phum, a stranger at an abandoned swimming pool. True romance goes awry when they can no longer ignore the spirits, disappearing bodies, and restless corpses that begin to plague them. Did they stumble upon these ghosts, or are they being haunted for a reason? Stunningly shot in varying shades of blue, with sound design that may cause at least one jump-out-of-your-seat moment, The Blue Hour experiments with romanticism as it wades deeper into suspense. Psycho-thriller, horror, and lust creep up on one another in this exciting new example of what we can expect from the future of queer cinema.
Runtime: 82 min
Breaking Free—directed by Sridhar Rangayan, the founder of Mumbai’s Queer Film Festival—is a bold examination of the effects of a recent Indian ruling that effectively re-criminalizes homosexuality. Interviews with prominent social activists bring viewers up close to the personal testimony arising from contemporary queer and trans* organising across India. Breaking Free traces the story of the British-introduced Section 377 of the Penal Code circa 1860, a section that was overturned in 2009, and then disappointingly upheld in 2013 by the Supreme Court. Deftly locating the historical, political, and legal legacies that impact South Asian sexuality, it offers an insider’s view of a queer movement seeking to annihilate the residual strains of colonialism located within Indian Law. With footage from gay pride events, protests, and celebrations across the country, this film is an affirmation by queer Indians that “if we survived our own demons, we will survive this institution and we will stand long beyond it.”
Runtime: 87 min
This youth-full night of short films is just the tall order you’ve been looking for. We start this night by celebrating the young local filmmakers who won this year’s Rise Against Homophobia Youth Short Video Contest. Then we venture into an amazing international selection of shorts that delve into the awkward, the painful, and the silly moments of growing up queer. From first crushes in Mexico to dealing with friends – and enemies – in Denmark, to the perils of social media and nosy parents in Taiwan. We’ll close the night with a panel discussion with some local leaders using art, activism and creativity to make positive changes in the queer youth community. Come see queer youth in action!
Tahia is a passionate advocate for dialogue and collaborative change making. She is the co-founder of ArtQuake, a youth driven arts organization that bridges creativity with activism. Her work at ArtQuake is driven by her belief that the creation and dissemination of art is integral to decolonizing our spaces, our bodies, and our minds. Art amplifies our resistance and archives our struggles and achievements within our histories of revolution. One of Tahia’s favourite movies is Water, written and directed by Deepa Mehta.
Jessie Anderson is a transgender activist whose youth was inspired by the films of John Waters, John Cameron Mitchell, Jonathan Caouette, and other queer artists not exclusively named John. By the age of 21, Jessie had already fully committed to his lifestyle as a “career queer.” Alongside his part-time gig as international adult performer Charlie Spats, Jessie participated in his local community by hosting all-genders bathhouse parties, introducing the trans section at Little Sister’s Bookstore during his 4-year employment under Janine Fuller and Jim Deva, and teaching workshops about gender diversity in high schools through Vancouver Coastal Health. This year, Jessie is launching a trans-owned, queer-friendly business called Big Bro’s Barbershop, which intends to be a new resource centre and visible business presence for Vancouver’s trans community.
Runtime: 90 min
A powerful adaptation of Markus Orths’ novel of the same name, The Chambermaid is a dream come true for every kinkster with a bent for complex portrayals of sex work, mental health and happy endings. This slow-burning drama offers up a make-you-wait-for-it depiction of a refreshingly weird duo of characters. Lynn’s highly regulated and mundane life as a cleaner at a hotel is transformed once she hires Chiara, a dominatrix sex worker who adds enough blast to her world to open her up and help her regain intimacy through kink. Starkness mixes with whimsy in this arthouse flick that amps up in the same way that love and recovery so often do. Beautifully shot, this stunning film embraces its rough edges.
Runtime: 95 min
From the stylized contemplation of Polarity to the brave baring of the self in Soak; and the prescient modern-day fable of The Future Perfect, these tantalizing grassroots shorts offer a delicious slice of BC’s queer film pie. Don’t miss this sneak peek of The Out-Laws (the inaugural episode of a coming web series), the trans* animation Dissonance, or the cleverest ode to break ups in Kiss and Tell.
This year’s local spotlight follows an exciting crew of rising filmmakers feeling up our queer coastline.
Runtime: 91 min
The infamous writer who sparked “the postmodern trial of the century,” JT LeRoy, a 15-year-old trans* sex worker, was hailed for writing heartwrenching novels. Chuck Palahniuk described JT as having the “authentic voice of someone who suffers.” Known for being deeply shy, JT LeRoy was encircled by a Warholian world of celebrities including Winona Ryder, Rosario Dawson, Natasha Lyonne, Sandra Bernhard, Gus Van Sant, Shirley Manson, Lou Reed and numerous writers and agents. But at the peak of JT’s 10-year rise came a rapid fall from grace. Says writer Dennis Cooper in the film, “From the beginning, I thought JT LeRoy was a liar… but I thought I knew when the lies were happening.” Was this the world’s largest literary scandal? Or a profound uncovering of our literary biases? Director Marjorie Sturm crafts a haunting, introspective documentary that questions artistic voice, freedom of speech and how far we will go to achieve our dreams.
Runtime: 105 min
“The greatest film practitioner we’ve ever seen” is how Peter Greenaway refers to Sergei Eisenstein, the 20th century creator of the masterpieces Battleship Potemkin and October. Here, Greenaway offers us his own sumptuous rendition of the director’s 1931 trip to Mexico to shoot Que viva México (which was never completed)— when Eisenstein fell in love, and into distraction, with his appointed guide, Palomino Cañedo. High camp treatment blends with masterfully-shot scenes of Eisenstein rolling in luxurious beds, vomiting in alleyways, and cavorting with Frida Kahlo. And likely the best sex scene ever committed to celluloid that blends seduction and dominance with a turning-the-tables soliloquy on self-determination and colonialism—and a gorgeous drop of olive oil. Irreverently spanning the themes of queer lives, art, and sacrifice in the name of love and nation, Greenaway offers a middle pointer to contemporary homophobia and state control (especially in the direction of the Russian state that prides itself on Eisenstein’s legacy). To quote the Eisenstein of the film: “I came to Mexico a virgin and I leave it debauched… someone has opened a door to a wet and weeping, dirty hurricane.” Greenaway catalyzes a storm worth watching. Eisenstein in Guanajuato is not to be missed.
Runtime: 83 min
I had a sense of my potential—that I was going to make something out of this recalcitrant, un-dancerly body. And that I was going to carve my own way.
Spanning Yvonne Rainer’s career as innovator, choreographer, feminist and filmmaker, director Jack Walsh presents us with a great portrait of this maverick of the infamous 1960s Judson Dance Theatre, and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient. We open with footage from Rainer’s seminal dance performance Trio A, which revolutionized Western contemporary dance with its casual movements, repetition and intention to forego theatricality. With interviews and footage from New York’s mid-21st century arts scene, we see how Rainer’s queerness inhabited her art and influenced the art world. As the film’s producer Christine Murray points out, “You just don’t see that many movies about radical, hyper-intelligent, complicated women whose work has shifted the paradigm (not to mention women who are kicking ass at the age of 80).”
Post-film Q&A with Director:
Runtime: 110 min
Hailed by OUT Magazine as “the finest, most universal and most moving gay film of the past year,” Four Moons brings together four artfully-woven stories of gay life and desire in Mexico City. An aging poet finds longing and inspiration in a bathhouse. Two university students reunite and revive their childhood friendship with an intimate twist. An 11-year-old boy experiments in a moment of immense desire and inadvertently finds himself outed to his family and community. Two men in a long-term relationship try to cement their future together in spite of their swiftly diverging needs. Sex and humour are tenderly and authentically presented by writer and director Sergio Tovar Velarde, a master of existential symbolism, in this rich portrayal of the many possibilities of queer love in 21st century Mexico City.
Runtime: 96 min
This exhilarating, no-holds-barred documentary from rising star Michiel Thomas brings intimate introduction to two athletes waging the biggest fights of their lives: coming out in their professional careers while continuing to remain at the top of their games. Fallon Fox, the first transgender Mixed Martial Arts fighter, copes with an unwanted media frenzy in the midst of her rising and prolific career. And at point guard pace, Terrence Clemens must contend with his experience of incarceration and being outed in LA as he works to rebuild his life and basketball career in Oklahoma. Their experiences demonstrate how far the world of sports has come in accepting LGBTQ players and how much work there is left to do—and queer basketball star Jason Collins and celebrated trans* basketball player Kye Allums show solidarity and support. Through adept filmmaking and intimate video diaries, Game Face gives us a glimpse of two athletes who’ve chosen to get in the ring for their rights in sport, their dignity and their communities.
Post-film Q&A with Director and Cast:
Runtime: 119 min
A brilliant, gritty and complex psychodrama that received a three-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, this powerful film by writer-director July Jung presents a stunning reflection on immigration, rural life, addiction and abuse—and the heartbreak of finding no safe refuge in family or law. Young-Nam, an outsider with an unspoken scandal, is sent from Seoul to a small village to take over as police chief, and is soon drawn into the personal dramas of the locals. When her ex-lover arrives, Young-Nam’s defense of a girl in the town becomes suspect. Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending, Sense8), revered as one of the best actors of our time and a “performer who can convey everything that needs to be said,” is luminous in her portrayal of a woman stubbornly seeking justice, even as she drinks a little too much shoju on the side. Kim Sae-ron is also exceptional as Dohee, capably maneuvering extremely satisfying plot twists while embodying the brutality she’s lived through at the hands of her father. A beautifully done, sometimes disturbing, and ultimately exquisite film, July Jung’s A Girl at My Door captures the fantasies and hopes of two people finding hard-won redemption.
Wednesday August 19, 7:00pm | Post-film Q&A with Director:
Runtime: 79 min
Lily Tomlin fans, rejoice! She’s clearly having a ball in Grandma, a rousing, exhilarating joyride that brings limitless energy and a decidedly un-Hollywood approach to storytelling about three generations of women. Here, the carefree feminist plot reveals itself early when Elle’s (Lily Tomlin) granddaughter Sage shows up on her doorstep seeking $600 for an abortion. Neither of them has the money so they set out on a road trip (in Tomlin’s own 1955 Dodge Royal) to get it without involving Sage’s mom, Judy (Marcia Gay Harden). Their journey sparks new life in Elle, a self-described misanthrope who’s been grieving the loss of her long-term love. Watch for supporting performances by the wonderful Laverne Cox, Judy Greer, and Sam Elliott too. We can only screen this sharply funny and warm film once, so get your tickets early!
Runtime: 81 min
A rich, emotionally-wrought tale about family and acceptance marking a standout debut from director Mauricio López Fernández, The Guest introduces Elena as she returns home for her father’s wake for the first time since her gender transition—but her mother’s disapproval creates a rift of anger and silence. In this refreshing portrayal of trans* identities by trans* actors, lead actor Daniela Vega’s mastery of her role is elemental to the film’s ultimate beauty and rawness. Cinematographically luxurious and shot with a hint of magic realism, The Guest brings complex and nuanced treatment to religion’s dominion in the family and beyond—as well as desire, labour, and how love often arrives two-faced. Fernández finds a beautiful place between eerie and sensual while also depicting a dynamic portrayal of family, return and belonging.
Runtime: 80 min
Pat Mills (writer/director/star) enters as a force in Canadian comedy with a chuckler of a feature that also provides piercing commentary on maturity and age—and offers up the notion that our hardest, most human moments might also be our funniest. David is a former child star whose life is in the dumps. When he can’t make rent, he resorts to a desperate scheme to cobble his life back together by impersonating a guidance counsellor at a local high school. A loveable character in deep denial of his sexuality, David makes well-meaning attempts to support the students, but suffers epic fails once he employs his usual coping strategies. Well-shot and introspective in its dark humour on education, addiction and self-help, Guidance propels viewers into a Toronto of small enclaves, broad highways, and big laughter.
Post-film Q&A with the Director:
Stephen Cone (The Wise Kids) brings us another smart incisive film full of depth, guilt, pain, and peace. Traversing the common experience of growing up gay in a home where faith rules, Henry Gamble is turning 17 and his worlds of church, school, adult mentors, family, and youth group are colliding. When Logan (a quiet youth from his church group) arrives, Henry is pulled into the awkward longing and distancing that often comes with adolescent desire. A bold and complex image of the inner struggles of those who hold faith, this film is a sharp work with believable characters, excellent acting, and the beautiful reminder that “the trouble with growing up is that you are always becoming yourself.”
Catapulting from the Berlinale to become the queer film on this year’s festival circuit, Josh Kim’s debut feature deftly navigates the complications of family and queer life in Thailand contrasted with the pressures of economic development, war and superstition. After the loss of their parents, 11-year old Oat is cared for by his elder brother Ek. While Oat learns the systems of power in his world through metaphors in the game of checkers, Ek’s relationship with his partner Jai becomes complicated when they are both entered into the military lottery. Inspired in part by Thailand’s complex stance on queer rights (the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1956 and the 2005 dissolution of the military ban on LGBTQ people), this familial love story is based on the short story collection Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, bringing to life a striking portrait of the strategies we use and the concessions we make to survive.
Runtime: 113 min
Effervescent with hope, In the Turn centres on 10-year-old Crystal in Timmins, Ontario, whose experience of chilling social isolation and bullying at school begins to change once she finds friendship and community in the Vagine Regime. They’re a kick-ass international queer roller derby team that (unlike Crystal’s school sports teams) is trans*-inclusive, and they welcome Crystal with open arms. As organizer Alex Krosney describes it: “Imagine spending your entire life keeping quiet about a huge part of yourself, then suddenly literally tumbling into a community of people who shout so loud about it that you can’t keep it down.” The film pivots to the experiences of the grassroots community that is the Vagine Regime and how members reach out to support Crystal. This heart-tugging documentary demonstrates how a small but mighty group are lead jammers in the movement for trans*-inclusive policies in sport. The VQFF is thrilled to host director Erica Tremblay, Crystal and her mother Karen as special guests for this Vancouver premiere of one of the most buzzed-about films of the year.
Crystal + Karen
Runtime: 100 min
Patricia Velasquez (Arrested Development, The L Word), also known as the first Latina lesbian supermodel, stars in this intimate love story as Liz, a party girl and heartbreaker who has a reputation for being irresponsible— and irrevocably seductive. She also has a secret. After she meets up with a group of friends for their annual celebration in the Caribbean, the mysterious Eva joins them and their lives become intertwined. With a lively cast including an ebullient group of friends, director Fina Torres brings us a meditation on the invisibility of death, the limits of life, and gaining what we need when we least expect it. Liz in September boldly reminds us that the best is yet to come.
Runtime: 65 min
Indie-darling Gaby Hoffmann (GIRLS, Transparent) brings more savvy than innocence to this thrilling script penned by Eyes Wide Shut actor-turned director Stewart Thorndike. LYLE is the story of a pregnant lesbian mother whose life suddenly changes after her move to a new home in Brooklyn. Troubled by her child’s erratic behaviour and her unavailable partner June (played by co-creator of The Slope, Ingrid Jungermann), Leah works to make sense of nymphet models, zany landladies, and her own fears… especially when they begin to come true. Thorndike builds a nightmarish Brooklyn infused with invisible pitter-patters, strange neighbours and walls that aren’t quite what they seem. Hailed as a lesbian Rosemary’s Baby, this film boasts sharp acting and smart directorial choices that make LYLE a beautiful horror.
Runtime: 86 min
Set in a quickly-gentrifying Brooklyn rife with contradictions, director Jay Dockendorf’s debut feature is an exciting depiction of queer black Muslim adolescence in all of its complexity. As Naz and Maalik wander Bed-Stuy selling wares from tiny vials of oil to lottery tickets to saint cards, they discuss their beliefs, Islam, the world, and their place in it. A lovers’ quarrel and a search to find a chicken for slaughter adds levity to this touching and romantic portrait; however, when an undercover agent tries to sell them a gun, they are suddenly under investigation by the FBI. As they strain to hide their sexuality from their families and the Feds, their everyday lives become suspect in a way that is increasingly terrifying and unjust. Jumping from smart and entertaining to desperate and touching, Naz and Maalik offers an important contribution to queer cinema, and a timely reminder of the impositions of the state on queer love.
At a time when gay porn was rough and raunchy, the sex in a Peter de Rome movie was compared to “a beautiful watercolour” and the man himself to a “typical British gentleman.” In clips as nostalgic as they are explicit, de Rome discusses testifying for the Wolfenden Report which decriminalized gay sex; how his film Adam & Yves has both the last film appearance of Greta Garbo and an all-black orgy; and how his movies, meant to “be seen by a few queens at a party,” altered an art form. The result is a Wild Strawberries-style documentary whose oeuvre of beautiful men having beautiful sex is progressive filmmaking even by our standards today.
Runtime: 85 min
Fun, frenetic humour runs through this standout Torontonian take on lesbian relationship drama as Elsie, a clever, mid-thirties serial monogamist, runs away from yet another relationship—as she always does. But, what if there was a twist to Elsie’s long-standing break-up plan? Co-directors Christina Zeidler (from VQFF’s 2007 Deep Lez Film Craft) and John Mitchell bring us a smart, off-the-cuff lesbian non-rom-com that draws upon the complexity of queer relationships and implores us to question how we love and what we choose to throw away. Rife with a cast of Canadian talent (Diane Flacks, Vag Halen’s Vanessa Dunn, Gavin Crawford and Sabrina Jalees) and showcasing this year’s most affecting lesbian cat funeral, Portrait of a Serial Monogamist is a great date night film, with a stellar soundtrack from Toronto’s queer scene to boot.
Join us for some of our favourite shorts of the year!
Love at queer sight is joyfully reminisced in Daniel Maggio’s Glory Hole while Pepper articulates a woman’s mixed feelings after a birthday threesome. A glorious underwater tribute to trans* bodies is set to the siren-like notes of Rae Spoon in Float; and the Teddy award-winning love story San Cristobal arrives as an instant queer classic with its gorgeous realism and poignancy, while the inspirational Kumu Hina introduces rising leader Ho’onani who bridges Hula and acceptance. Future Perfect blends Zachary Quinto’s (Heroes, Star Trek) distinctive baritone with a high-concept sci-fi script that you won’t soon forget.
An artful, stunning collection of some of the Fest’s best.
Runtime: 84 min
Based on the novel Les Dollars des Sables by Jean-Noël Pancrazi, Sand Dollars is a provocative and expertly realized take on power, love and money as Anne (Geraldine Chaplin), a regular visitor to the Dominican Republic, grows deeper in love with Noeli, a much younger local she’s paying for companionship. Geraldine Chaplin gives a stirring performance as a woman alternately shrewd and guileless with her power—and vulnerable, as Noeli’s own ambitions and desires conflict with what a kept life with Anne promises. Rising from a nuanced script that refuses to fall into stereotypes, Sand Dollars brings gorgeous scenery and dreamy summer meditation to the question of love, and the opportunism and risks taken in its pursuit.
Runtime: 94 min
Still Not Over It is an extensive program of queer Canadian documentary, experimental, performance, animation, and fiction shorts spanning 70 years of moving images. Variously addressing memory, social history, and futures, these shorts use anachronism, queered retellings, hope, reminiscence, and prophesy to elicit questions on queer temporality: what is our past without our overcomings? Who were we and what did we want to be? Will I find a date for Friday night? This selection shows us bygone times and timeless aspirations from WWII-era crypto-homo desire to 1960s subtleties, 70s experimentalism, 80s essays, 90s elegies, and millennial flux. Culled from the newly launched online catalogue mediaqueer.ca—a research tool for LGBT moving image art in Canada and Québec—the program will be presented in two parts with a short discussion with artists in-between.
Presented in partnership with the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec and Video Out Distribution.
Guest programmers Jordan Arseneault, Alan Kollins and Thomas Waugh.
Q&A after the screening with some directors in attendance.
Runtime: 50 min
You’ve probably heard of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution. You may not be aware that LGBT activists played a significant role in this uprising. This groundbreaking film follows the progress of the Euromaidan revolution, and the Russian occupation that followed, from the perspective of LGBT Ukrainians. The film’s director, a queer Canadian of Ukrainian descent, travelled to three Ukrainian cities in 2014, tracking the impact of Russia’s “gay propaganda law”, in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine. Meet Alexandra, whose face was on a “Wanted” poster plastered across the city of Donetsk; Vlad, a gay activist hiding out in an LGBT safe house in Kyiv; Olena, who taught women’s self- defence classes during Euromaidan and now fights the spread of anti-gay laws in Eastern Europe. From harrowing accounts of exile and torture, to stories of creative resistance, this film shows a side of the conflict in Ukraine the world has not yet seen.
Runtime: 89 min
Exquisite scenes of contemporary extravagance blend with whipsmart writing and acting to make this gay version of Gossip Girl a decadent treat. MFA student Charlie has spent his adolescence pining for his beautiful and wealthy best friend Sebastian. As Sebastian copes with the fallout of a terrible Madoff-esque financial family scandal, Charlie begins to fall in love with Tim, a charming pianist from Lebanon. Positioned within an elite New York whirlwind that rears its seedy underbelly, Charlie must choose between the love he knows, or dive headfirst into something new and frightening. Hailed as an “instant classic,” the film brings bold energy and charm to the changing face of new queer film as a highly polished coming-into-adulthood showpiece that starts where many coming-out films leave off. Intelligent in its dissonance and smoked with the attitude of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Joey Kuhn’s debut feature reminds of us of our own “Sebastians” and those ineffable imperfections that make love so very wondrous.
In one of the most thoughtful documentaries on gender non-conformity we’ve seen, director Lonny Shavelson offers us an inspirational and loving essay on the multiplicity of genders outside the binary. A landmark contribution to cinema on genderqueer, gender variant and gender non-conforming identities, Three to Infinity bears touching testimony from parents and partners, and exceptional individuals living beyond the gender binary who are forging new paths towards authentic, accepted lives.
Post-film Q&A with Director + Cast member:
Barbara Hammer, pioneering lesbian filmmaker and the first recipient of the Shirley Clarke Avant-Garde Filmmaker Award, brings us her new documentary Welcome to this House, about the 20th century American poet Elizabeth Bishop. The film’s visuals and haunting score paint a compelling portrait of Bishop, a lesbian who was torn between her desire for creative freedom and the need for privacy in an era that demanded a closeted life. An orphan from an early age, Bishop searches for home as she travels from Massachusetts to Brazil, finding solace in lovers despite a painful descent into alcoholism. Interweaving Bishop’s poetry with her life story, the film conveys a uniquely modernist spirit as it explores familial tragedy and grief, the human need for love and belonging—and a woman who left an indelible mark on American literary history.
Building from the complexities arising from gay cruising and relationships in a small town, What We Have is a gorgeously constructed film marking the arrival of a signature new queer Canadian talent, Maxime Desmons (writer/director/star). Maurice, a French émigré, tries to escape his past by taking up a rather isolated life in North Bay, Ontario. However, he soon becomes enmeshed as a tutor and mentor of a high school student who is enduring bullying at school. Maurice’s guiding question then becomes: how do you protect someone whose present-day adolescence looks so much like your own troubled past? A beautifully shot and nuanced meditation on cycles of abuse, What We Have takes risks that bring immense rewards.
Post-film Q&A with Director and Producer:
Runtime: 134 min
Ironically titled Xenia (the Greek word for generosity and hospitality to strangers) is not your average road movie. It’s a joyful, multi-faceted fable of two stateless brothers who embark on a journey following the death of their Albanian mother to find their father and the Greek citizenship that only his patrimony will allow. Dany, a sugar-obsessed queer teen, and his golden-voiced brother Odysseas take on this modern-day epic from Athens to Thessaloniki amid the stark realities of Greece’s current economic transition. It’s a rich tale that takes them through the trials of romance, fascists and homophobes, a tough immigration lawyer, an Italian superstar—and a reality-TV singing competition. Director and co-writer Panos H Koutras brings a wealth of classical allusions and complexity to a story of being foreign in the country of one’s birth and rebuilding brotherly love.
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