Radar: Inside Out Film Festival, Invisible Cities: An Urban Biodiversity Conference, Spin by Evalyn Parry, TOK: Writing the New Toronto, The Gleaning Screening for Not Far From the Tree, Lydia Lunch's Sick With Desire

FILM | Inside Out Film Festival
For twenty years now the Inside Out Film Festival has been going against the grain and exploding Hollywood's gay stereotypes by presenting the best films from Canada and around the world that are by, for, and about queer people. Starting today the fest celebrates "twenty years of queers", and with over 250 films and videos being screened at four theatres across the city there's plenty to choose from. The Icon Documentary series presents films documenting the lives of six queer culture figureheads including Candy Darling, Joan Rivers, and our own Rufus Wainwright, and tonight's hot ticket is the gala screening of the hotly anticipated Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl starring James Franco. A centrepiece of this year's festival is the International Focus on South America program, which showcases seven films that are a part of the region's current explosion of queer cinema. There are also plenty of parties linked to the festival over the next ten days, including an opening bash tonight with DJ Shane Percy and all-male burlesque troupe Boylesque, as well as a Local Heroes jam at Buddies in Bad Times next Wednesday featuring Dance Yourself to Death and Diamond Rings.
Various venues and times, check schedule for full details, tickets for regular screenings $6 - $12, gala screenings $15 - $25

CONFERENCE | Invisible Cities: An Urban Biodiversity Conference
This conference at the ROM asks the question "can biodiversity and urban areas coexist?" The racoons, squirrels, and possums who fight over my garbage every night say yes. But some more interesting answers will likely be heard from the Invisible Cities panel of urban planners, architects, scientists and journalists who convene today to discuss making room for biodiversity in a rapidly urbanizing world. Writer and philosopher-at-large Mark Kingwell will be joined by the Toronto Star's urban affairs columnist Christopher Hume, Jon K. Grant of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, author David Owen, Dr. Pavan Sukhdev of the UN Environment Program and other major thinkers to theorize on how to make modern cities ecologically invisible by surrounding them with natural environments. Special attention will be paid to the Toronto Waterfront project which will soon drastically alter the city's lakeshore.
The Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, Students $10, General $18, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm

THEATRE | Spin by Evalyn Parry
Hook up an old bicycle to a bunch of digital effects pedals, and what do you get? Ground-breaking theatre apparently. That's the recipe for Evalyn Parry's Spin, a multimedia celebration of the bicycle as mode of transportation, environmental solution, and political tool. Parry's old two-wheeler serves as a musical instrument in the production, which focuses on the bicycle's role in turn of the 20th Century suffragette movements. At the time, bikes were a way for women to become mobile and independent, but of course any discussion of the importance of cycling 100 years ago resonates in today's Toronto-modern day battle ground in the war against the car-and the performance is riddled with references to the end of oil and Igor Kenk. The workshop production of Spin sold out at the Hysteria Festival last year and is presented by the Toronto Cyclist Union in advance of Bike Month.
The Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Avenue, $15, 8:30 pm

BOOKS AND LIT | Launch of TOK: Writing the New Toronto
Quick, name a book that's based in Toronto. Gold stars for anyone who came up with something other than In the Skin of a Lion. With so many writers in this city you'd think that by now there'd be enough great stories about the Big Smoke to fill the Don Valley, but for some reason there's a literary dearth when it comes to our town. Luckily, there's Diaspora Dialogues, a non-profit organization whose ongoing mission is to foster the creation of new literary works that reflect the diverse experience of living Canada's biggest urban centre. For the past five years the organization has published an anthology of poetry and fiction called TOK: Writing the New Toronto, a project of the Diaspora Dialogues mentorship program that pairs established writers with talented emerging authors. The fifth edition of the book contains stories by Anthony De Sa, Emma Donoghue, Nalo Hopkinson, Shyam Selvadurai, MG Vassanji, and 13 emerging writers, and will be launched tonight with an evening of readings and a panel discussion on Toronto literature.
Bram and Bluma Appel Salon, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Free, 7:30 pm

FILM | The Gleaning Screening: A Fundraiser for Not Far from the Tree
Toronto's newest movie house hosts this screening of the acclaimed French documentary The Gleaners and I. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of studying European agricultural history, gleaning is the practice of collecting leftover crops from a commercially harvested field. Impoverished peasants initially used gleaning as a form of welfare system, but their wasteless practices still have much to teach us about environmental efficiency. The screening is a benefit for residential fruit-picking organization Not Far From the Tree, which last year harvested over 8000 pounds of produce from Toronto's urban trees. The movie will be followed by a reception where you'll get a chance to down the organization's signature drink (also known as a Gleaner), which consists of elderberry syrup tapped from local plants. I might just glean myself a beer instead, thank you.
Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Avenue, $15, 6:30 pm

THEATRE | Lydia Lunch: Sick With Desire
A key figure in New York City's No Wave art scene of the 1970s, Lydia Lunch is a multi-talented singer, writer and actress who's collaborated with the likes of Nick Cave and Sonic Youth. She's offensive, intelligent, and sexy, and over the years has found creative outlets in hallucinatory literature and as a singer in Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and later on her band Big Sexy Music. Nowadays, Lunch has deserted hectic New York for sunny Barcelona, where she's been working on a psycho-ambient multimedia solo show that utilizes light projections and music to explode her spoken word pieces into an immersive experience. Sick With Desire deals primarily with survival, a subject the hardened Lunch is intimately familiar with, and will be attracting nostalgic punks to the Royal in droves tonight.
Royal Cinema, 606 College Street, $25, 8:30 pm

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Photo: "Sunset Reflected" by Book'em, member of the blogTO Flickr Pool.

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