Shifting themes and new initiatives at Inside Out


The Toronto Inside Out Film Festival, which features films by and about the LGBT community, kicked off its 22nd year Thursday, with a screening of the U.K. drama My Brother the Devil, from director Sally El Hosaini.

While the film tells the story of two brothers whose relationship is tested when one of them is revealed to be gay, programming director Andrew Murphy, in his first year with the festival, says he has noticed a thematic shift in the films LGBT directors are producing.

“We’re noticing a movement away from the typical gay coming out story, and shifting more into what happens in our everyday lives and what happens after we come out,” he tells Playback Daily.

“This year more than ever, people are turning the cameras back on the queer community itself, and looking at its history with films like How to Survive a Plague, that look at organizations like Act Up who fought for affordable medications for HIV/AIDS patients,” he adds.

This year’s festival also features a new initiative: the Women’s Spotlight. The program looks to highlight the lesbian community, which, according to Murphy, has traditionally been poorly depicted in film.

“Lesbian films often have that stigma where the woman kills herself, goes back to a man, goes to jail or is psychotic. This year there’s a great crop of films that are exploring great relationships and even marriage,” he says.

The Women’s Spotlight features director Thom Fitzgerald’s Canada-U.S. copro, Cloudburst, starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker.

The film tells the story of two women who have lived together in Maine for 31 years. When one of them is put in a nursing home, the two try to escape to Nova Scotia, where gay marriage is legal, picking up a male hitchhiker along the way.

Other initiatives include the Queer Video Mentorship Project, a program which aims provide queer youth under 25 with opportunities for to learn video production. Last year, the program was extended to queer seniors over 55.

Murphy says this year’s lineup, which was selected from 700 considered entries, is filled with highlights in both the fiction and non-fiction genres.

In the former, American Stephen Elliott’s debut effort Cherry, starring James Franco (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Heather Graham (The Hangover), makes its Canadian debut.

In Cherry, a young woman moves to San Francisco and decides to work in the porn industry to earn extra money, opening the doors for her to explore her sexuality.

Leading the way in non-fiction is Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright’s Call me Kuchu, fresh off its Hot Docs victory for best international feature.

The film documents Ugandan activist David Kato’s efforts to fight his country’s controversial anti-gay bill.

Canadians are also well-represented, with directors Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert returning to the festival for the second time since 2006 with their dramedy Margarita, starring Nicola Correia Damude, Patrick McKenna and Christine Horne.

The film portrays a family who falls on hard times, and realizes how important their Mexican housekeeper is to the family.

The festival runs until May 27.

For more information and a full list of program selections, visit the festival’s website.