The 17th Annual Inside Out Gay and Lesbian Film and Video Festival Continues! Last night, the festival presented its centrepiece gala screening at the Isabelle Bader Theatre of King and Clown (reviewed by Torontoist at last year’s TIFF), a movie about a Korean monarch who falls in love with his cross-dressing jester that also happens to be the top-grossing Korean film of all time (OK, so at least it was until this happened).
Meanwhile, across the road at the ROM’s theatre, another film was being shown as a part of this year’s fest’s East Asian Focus: The Chinese Botanist’s Daughters. An achingly beautiful and highly erotic love story filmed in a gorgeous 2.35 : 1 aspect ratio, this film tells the story of Ming, a half-Chinese, half-Russian orphan who goes to study under a master botanist for a period of six weeks. She is immediately beguiled by the strict and obnoxious professor’s daughter An, a beautiful young woman generally photographed covered in a thin film of sweat as a result of hanging around steamy greenhouses all day. The attraction is mutual, and the two begin a reltionship. Things get complicated when An’s brother Tan, a dumb jock in the military, comes home and the professor decides Ming would make a good wife for him. The film is not entirely unproblematic – all of the men in the film are eventually reduced to violent psychopaths and, without giving too much away, the story does not depart too drastically from the time-honoured tradition of ensuring gay love stories end tragically, historically likely though it might be.
Your best bet for the fest tonight may be Outrageous! playing at the Bader at 9:30 tonight, a 1977 Canadian classic about a gay hairdresser and his roommate who is determined to have a baby and keep out of mental institutions, which was lauded at Berlin and Cannes in its day. Tomorrow, there’s Wrestling With Angels, a documentary about playwright Tony Kushner we caught at the Jewish Film Festival last year playing at the Bader at 5:15, the sold-out Hogtown Homos at the ROM at 9:45 and at the same time at the Bader, a very interesting-sounding film called Eleven Men Out about an Icelandic gay soccer player who comes out to a journalist in the middle of his team’s changeroom.