Film

Inside Out: Challenging Attitudes and Changing Lives

Canada's largest LGBT-themed film festival is back—and it's got Ira Sachs, Xavier Dolan, Ryan Murphy, and more.

Still from Tom at the Farm.

  • Multiple venues
  • Thursday, May 22–Sunday, June 1

Now in its 24th year, the Inside Out festival offers an eclectic mix of LGBT-themed films from Canada and around the world. Setting up shop at venues ranging from the TIFF Bell Lightbox to Videofag, the festival mixes screenings, panel discussions, and receptions for equal parts edification and entertainment—all in the name of “challenging attitudes and changing lives.”

Still from The Way He Looks.

The program kicks off with tonight’s gala screening of The Way He Looks, festival favourite and Berlin prize winner Daniel Ribeiro’s coming-of-age story about a blind teenager’s love for a new student and the strain it puts on his deep bond with his sister. Those seeking a more local premiere in the first few days of the festival could start things off with Saturday’s screening of Kate Johnston and Shauna MacDonald’s Tru Love, about a thirtysomething Toronto lesbian (MacDonald) who becomes drawn to her friend’s sixtysomething mother (Christine Horne).

Still from The Normal Heart.

Last year’s festival scored quite a coup: a simulcast of Steven Soderbergh–directed Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra. This year has produced a coup of its own—the Canadian premiere of Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy’s HBO movie The Normal Heart. An adaptation of Larry Kramer’s Tony Award–winning play, the star-packed film tells the story of the AIDS epidemic through the eyes of a New York City activist (played by Mark Ruffalo) in the early ‘80s. Costar Matt Bomer will be on hand for the screening. The other big score is the Canadian premiere of Ira Sachs’s new drama Love Is Strange. In it, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play Ben and George, a couple whose marriage puts George’s job as a choir director at a Catholic school in jeopardy and leaves them in search of a new home.

Still from The Case Against 8.

Inside Out also boasts a number of internationally well-regarded titles that have already made the rounds in Toronto. Returning to Toronto after a successful debut at Hot Docs, The Case Against 8 is a stirring documentary about two LGBT couples and their legal battles against California’s Proposition 8. Those who want to get their eyes on Quebec wunderkind Xavier Dolan’s newest film Mommy, currently winning accolades at Cannes, will have to settle for his paranoid thriller Tom at the Farm—which we weren’t as keen on as most when it played TIFF last fall, but which we’ll grant has a certain florid charm. The film stars Dolan as a big city ad man who travels to the countryside after the death of his closeted partner and finds himself in uncomfortable proximity to the deranged family that partner left behind.

Still from Lost Girl.

Finally, sci-fi and fantasy fans might wish to take in Saturday’s panel on Lost Girl, the Canadian series about a bisexual succubus who wields her demonic powers for good. Showrunner Michael Grassi and selected cast members will be present to talk about the importance of integrating gay and lesbian characters into a sci-fi universe.

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