They’re Here and They’re Queer: Docs at Inside Out

Vision Portraits is one of the doc highlights at this year’s Inside Out LGBT Film Festival


Toronto’s Inside Out LGBT Film Festival starts Thursday! The annual event brings the dearest and queerest films to Toronto, including an opening night event with the Elton John biopic Rocketman, which just sent Cannes on fire.

The fest features a healthy dose of docs putting queer stories by queer filmmakers on Toronto screens. The docs reflect a range of LGBTQ experiences with historical accounts, biographies, thoughtful calls for inclusion, and good old-fashioned campy fun. Here are some docs highlights at Inside Out this year:

Alternative Artists: Vision Portraits

POV is especially proud to support Inside Out as a co-presenter of the documentary Vision Portraits from director Rodney Evans. Vision Portraits is a personal essay from Evans as he begins to lose his sight and confronts his future within a visual medium. Evans, who directed the Sundance award winner Brother to Brother (2004) and the feature documentary The Unveiling (1996), situates his story within the experiences of other blind artists. The doc comes to Toronto after screening at SXSW where The Hollywood Reporter called it a “deeply personal essay” and “endlessly thought-provoking.”

Vision Portraits screens Monday, May 27 at 7:00 PM with director Rodney Evans in attendance.

Gay Icons: Halston

Bust out your most fabulous threads for Halston! This bio-doc about late fashionista Roy Halston Frowick (aka Halston) gives the designer his due. Director Frédéric Tcheng (Dior and I, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel) tells the story of the style icon who revamped American fashion in the 1970s by decking out discotheques and dance floors with the hottest and slickest clothes of the era. Featuring a cast of celebs including Liza Minelli, Marisa Berenson, Joel Schumacher, and a who’s who of the 70s’ style scene in an amazing range of archival material, the film charts the dramatic rise and fall of an emperor and his new clothes with a mix of vintage and contemporary fabric.

Halston screens Wednesday, May 29 at 9:15 PM.

Docs on Dykes: Dykes in the Streets

Director Almerinda Travassos offers a treasure trove of archival footage that charts the history of LGBTQ rights from the early 1980s. This mid-length doc looks at the power of the Pride Parade for enabling representation and empowering communities, but it also uses the event as a forum for discussion as activists from the queer community ask where Pride needs to go. This screening features an extended Q&A that aims to tackle these issues heading into Pride Month.

Dykes in the Streets screens on Saturday, May 25 at 12:15 PM.

Fest Faves: Drag Kids

Catch an audience favourite from Hot Docs in case you missed it as Drag Kids gets an encore at Inside Out. The film might be a smart bet for audiences eager to explore the experiences of youths navigating the queer spectrum to find the right form of expression that fits their bodies and personalities. Director Megan Weinberg follows a handful of kids as they dress in drag and find the support of their parents by trying on and performing different gender identities. Reviewing Drag Kids at Hot Docs, Maurie Alioff wrote that the “film offers a rare glimpse into an unusual world that has received scant attention.”

Drag Kids screens Friday, May 24 at 5:00 PM

Trans Experiences: Jack and Yaya

A number of documentaries share transgender experiences by focusing on the surgery and physical transformation of a subject, but directors Mary Hewey and Jen Bagley add an important perspective to the mix with Jack and Yaya. The film looks at the role of family and friendship in transitions. The film follows Jack Milligan as he readies for gender-affirming surgery and it provides insight into the bureaucratic nightmare his long-time friend Yaya faces as she tries to change her name. All the while, the film focuses on the strength of their bond and the support of their families that helps them along the way.

Jack and Yaya screens on Tuesday, May 28 at 4:30 PM with directors Mary Hewey and Jen Bagley in attendance with subject Jack Milligan.

Camp Classics: You Don’t Nomi

Bring your chips, paint your nails, and get ready to strut your sassy dance moves! Film fans from different places can debate one of the best worst movies of all time as director Jeffrey McHale revisits the critically reviled and Razzie winning turkey Showgirls. The film features insightfully humorous reflections from film critics, including POV contributor and Showgirls: It Doesn’t Suck author Adam Nayman, who argue that Showgirls is an under-appreciated gem. Situating Showgirls within the filmography of director Paul Verhoeven and the Saved by the Bell -ography of star Elizabeth Berkley, the film uncovers some extraordinary insights, yet captures the magic of the film by showing how one can love Showgirls regardless of its objective quality. This breezy feat of historical revisionism looks at a camp classic anew to understand everything that went wrong behind the camera and in front of it to create a film that is so spectacularly bad that delights audiences nearly 25 years after its release. And, yes, they discuss the pool scene!

You Don’t Nomi screens Friday, May 31 at 9:00 PM.

Stay tuned for coverage of these films and other Inside Out docs throughout the fest!
Get the full line-up here.