Inside Out toronto

10 films to watch at the Inside Out Film Festival 2013

Over 11 days from May 23 to June 2, the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival will offer a cornucopia of 175 films from around the world that celebrate and spotlight the stories and issues of the LGBT community.

"We have a very diverse festival this year. There is something for everyone, whether you want something lighthearted and fun, art house cinema or provoking social issue documentaries," says Executive Director Scott Ferguson.

The 2013 festival launched at the Burroughes Building last week. This year's theme is See For Yourself. "It's both an invitation and a friendly challenge to not just take what your perceptions of Inside Out or film festivals in general are," says Ferguson. "Whether you're a first time attendee or have come in the past, come with an open mind. Every year is a different experience."

With the festival's 25th anniversary coming up in 2015, Ferguson says its heart and soul hasn't changed. "It's about bringing the (LGBT) community together and giving people an opportunity to socialize, to be yourself, and to see films."

What has changed is the access to queer films, which are now more readily available at other festivals, on DVD and online. So it's Ferguson and his team's job to curate programs that are unique and to offer films that audiences won't hear about or have access to outside the festival. "Also, what you experience at home in front of a computer screen is completely different from what you get out of watching it at a festival."

Information about this year's films is available on Inside Out's website. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, May 9. To help you pick your films, I asked Ferguson to share his insider's view on 10 highlights from this year's festival.

In The Name Of (W imie...), Opening Gala - Thursday, May 23, 8 pm

This Polish-language drama tells the story of charismatic Catholic priest Father Adam, who leads a small parish in rural Poland and who struggles to reconcile his faith with his sexuality. "It's my favourite film (this year)... It's really timely in its exploration of the Roman Catholic Church," says Ferguson. The film won the Teddy Award for Best Feature at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival. "You don't get a lot of queer films that come from Poland, so it's nice to have one that's also so beautifully made."

Una Noche, Saturday, May 25, 12:15 pm

This Spanish-language social issue film and thriller tells the story of young Raul, who dreams of escaping from repressive Havana to Miami. When he is accused of assaulting a tourist, he plots his escape with his best friend Elio and his twin sister - 90 miles across the ocean on a raft. "We saw this at the Berlin Film Festival (in 2012) and have been trying to get it for a year now," says Ferguson. "It provides a very interesting insight into life in Havana, especially for younger people and their perceptions of what they're going through, as the country evolves and to reconcile its political nature with the changing world around them."

Reaching For The Moon (Flores Raras), Women's Spotlight Gala - Saturday, May 25, 7:15 pm

Based on the bestselling Brazilian novel Rare and Commonplace Flowers, the film chronicles the passionate yet tempestuous love affair between Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, Elizabeth Bishop (portrayed by Australia actress Miranda Otto), and renowned Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. "It's a gorgeous period film that takes place in 1950s Rio de Janeiro," says Ferguson. "I found it very interesting that the two women had a very open relationship, out in the public eye."

G.B.F. - Sunday, May 26, 4:30 pm

"It's a queer take on Mean Girls, although Mean Girls was already quite queer," says Ferguson. After reading about how the hot new accessory is the gay best friend, three high school divas - vying to be Northgate High's prom queen - engage in an outrageous war for the loyalty of unassuming Tanner, who is accidentally outed as the school's first openly gay student. "It's campy, it's funny and it's got Megan Mullaly from Will & Grace in it," says Ferguson.

Mr. Angel - Sunday, May 26, 9:15 pm

Over seven years, director Dan Hunt followed and filmed the life of pioneering porn star, trans activist and filmmaker Buck Angel. The resulting documentary offers a candid look into the icon's many transformations, including his transition from female to male. "It's insightful and thorough. The man hasn't had an easy life and struggled with a lot of issues and addictions and he's very upfront and honest. It gives you a much fuller picture outside of his public persona," says Ferguson.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? - Monday, May 27, 9:45 pm

This whimsical romantic comedy from Taiwan tells the story of two couples. The first is optician Weichung, who is married to Feng and they have a child together. Weichung's hidden gay past comes back and stirs up old feelings. His impulsive sister, Mandy, is engaged to sad sack San-San, but dreams of becoming a soap star. "It's a lovely film and very sweet and quirky and funny," says Ferguson. "And yes, the song (of the same name) also plays an important role in the movie."

Pit Stop, Centrepiece Gala - Tuesday, May 28, 9:30 pm

Premiering at Sundance this past January, Pit Stop is an exploration of the parallel lives of two gay men in a small Texas town and the quiet hope of finding love far away from big city gay life. "It explores what life is like for queer people in a small town, where their sexuality isn't hidden. It's not necessarily at the forefront of everything they do in their daily life but it's very much a part of who they are and their identity," says Ferguson. "It's about the eternal hope that we all have to find that one person to spend the rest of our lives with. It's a lovely and great film."

Animals - Wednesday, May 29, 7:15 pm

A coming-of-age story about 17-year-old Pol and his teddy bear best friend, Deerhoof. The fragile balance of Pol's life is threatened by the arrival of an enigmatic new classmate and the dark side he harbours. "The animatronic bear is very central to the story. It's all about (Pol's) relationship with (Deerhoof) and how his reliance on the bear has impeded his ability to interact with the real world. It's got elements of Donnie Darko to it. It's very surreal and gorgeously filmed. It's one of my favourite films that I saw this year," says Ferguson.

I Am Divine - Saturday, June 1, 7:15 pm

Born Harris Glenn Milstead to a conservative, middle-class family, Divine was an actor, singer and drag queen whose outrageous performances shocked and captivated American counterculture. Jeffrey Schwarz's documentary provides an intimate look at his life and art, which includes the role of Edna Turnblad in John Waters' Hairspray. "For someone like me who grew up in the era of Divine, this film is full of such great footage and interviews with people like John Waters, Ricki Lake, Tab Hunter... Probably the most affecting interviews are the ones with Divine's mother," says Ferguson.

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, Closing Gala - Sunday, June 2, 7:30 pm

This documentary about Pulitzer winner Alice Walker (The Color Purple) sheds light on the author's extraordinary rise to prominence, her bisexuality and affair with singer Tracy Chapman, and her estranged relationship with her daughter. Interviews include Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover and Yoko Ono. "She's had an amazing life and she is quite an outspoken woman. She talks about how her sexuality influenced The Color Purple and the characters of Celie and Shug... This is a woman who I feel that you don't know a lot about her, so this pulls the curtain back on her life," says Ferguson.

Film still from Pit Stop

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