Docs at Inside Out

By Pat Mullen

Toronto’s Inside Out Film Festival kicks off today. The fest, which runs through June 3, showcases the best in LGBTQ cinema from Canada and around the world. The documentary front is especially strong this year with a handful of world premieres and encore presentations of Hot Docs hits to share diverse stories leading into Pride Month.

Here are some documentary highlights from the fest:

Call Her Ganda
Dir. PJ Raval | International Showcase | Sat, June 2 @ 4:45 PM

Anyone who slept on Call Her Ganda at Hot Docs last month should not miss one of the best films the fest had to offer. This powerful film offers a tough but vital portrait of the fight for transgender rights as director PJ Raval explores the murder of Filipina trans woman Jennifer Laude, who died at the hands of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton one night when the American was on leave from the base. The case explodes into a watershed moment for trans rights as Jennifer’s death becomes a rallying point as media takes note and the voices of trans activists are finally heard. Laude’s case raises in profile when her lawyers, family members, and advocates draw out the colonial elements of the USA’s presence in the Philippines, which gives men like Pemberton a sense of entitlement over the land and its people. Laude’s family is the heart of the film, however, and the love for their daughter, sister, aunt, and friend shows that they (and she) deserve justice. Read the POV review of Call Her Ganda here.

The Fruit Machine
Dir. Sarah Fodey | Spotlight on Canada | Fri, June 1 at 4:45 PM

A 16-year passion project for Ottawa filmmaker Sarah Fodey, The Fruit Machine is one of the few Canadian films to launch at Inside Out with a world premiere this year. Fodey’s doc tackles Canada’s dark and sordid history of persecuting homosexuals in the military and public service. The film tells the stories of survivors who speak to the traumatic effect of having one’s identity branded a character weakness. Careers ended and privacy was invaded in a decades-long campaign that could only be described as a witch hunt. The subjects of The Fruit Machine loudly and proudly advocate for change. The film is very topical after Prime Minster Justin Trudeau offered an apology to the LGBT community for years of systemic discrimination. The apology, which was mostly well received, may not be enough, and it’s worth hearing the stories of whose who experienced the hunt. Read more about Fodey and The Fruit Machine in this profile from NOW.

Dir. Derek Dodge | Premieres | Mon, May 28 at 7:00 PM

Also world premiering at Inside Out is Derek Dodge’s profile of auto racing icon Hurley Haywood. The champion was a master of the racetrack and could handle a car better than most men behind the wheel, but his life was also one of secrets. The film invites Haywood to recount his personal history in intimate interviews in which he comes out publicly for the first time. Haywood’s story speaks to the difficulty of being one’s best self in an industry like sports and racing in which notions of gender take stereotypes to extremes. Haywood’s story is not one of regrets though, but rather one of the therapeutic effect of speaking up. The film features interviews with several of Haywood’s peers and fellow racers, including actor/racer and executive producer Patrick Dempsey.

Love, Scott
Dir. Laura Marie Wayne | Spotlight on Canada | Fri, May 25 at 5:00 PM

Catch an encore presentation of the NFB’s Love, Scott, a sentimental favourite at Hot Docs this year. The film profiles Nova Scotian musician Scott Jones, who was viciously attacked in a hate crime in 2013. Years later, Scott, now paralyzed from the waist down, is ready to confront the past and forgive his assailant. Told in lovingly close proximity by Jones’s friend Laura Marie Wayne, the doc follows Scott as he gets back behind the microphone and uses his voice to advocate for more support and awareness to recognize violence against LGBTQ Canadians as hate crimes. Buoyed by a beautiful score by Sigur Rós, Love, Scott is a tender and quietly moving film about the power of forgiveness. Read the POV review of Love, Scott here.

Half the Picture
Dir. Amy Adrion | Galas | Sat, May 26 at 7:00 PM

Women’s representation behind the camera might be the hottest topic in the movie business right now. Just two weeks after 82 women marched the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival to draw attention to the dearth of female representation in the official competition and in the industry more broadly, Half the Picture invites audiences to continue the conversation and ask why so few women occupy the director’s seat? Featuring interviews with directors including Ava DuVernay, Miranda July, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Martha Coolidge, and Lucy Walker, Half the Picture tackles the damage done by poor representation in screen culture and considers the hope for the future that rests in parity. “No film on this subject will ever manage to please everyone or cover every base, and actually the relative scarcity of the biggest names means more time can be devoted to the very articulate lesser-known talents,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter at Sundance.

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco
Dir. James Crump | Icons | Sun, May 27 at 4:15 PM

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s DOC NYC festival, Antonio Lopez 1970 profiles the man behind the drawings of top fashion mags like Vogue and Elle. An elaborate mix of archival footage and new interviews show how Lopez captured the pulse of the vibrant culture of the 1960s and 1970s and drew inspiration from the music, fashion, and nightlife. Icons like Grace Jones, Jessica Lange, Bill Cunningham and Jerry Hall discuss the legacy of Lopez’s work to help create a window back into this era of sexual freedom and artistic inspiration. “Using resources like archive footage, photographs and animated iterations of Lopez’ iconic drawings, the film paints a loving portrait of a soul sorely missed, and an exciting time long gone by,” wrote Little White Lies in reviewing the film. “Antonio Lopez may be a lesser-known subject, but he’s a fascinating one.”

Inside Out runs May 24 to June 3.
Stay tuned for more coverage!