From top: Desire Lines, A House Is Not a Disco, nanekawâsis, Dalton's Dream, Teaches of Peaches | Courtesy Inside Out

Inside Out Returns with a Doc Heavy LGBTQ+ Slate

Fest runs May 24 to June 1

10 mins read

Get out to the theatre this week at Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival kicks off in Toronto today at TIFF Lightbox. Running through June 2 in theatres with select online encores, this year’s edition of Inside Out is notably doc heavy with a number of non-fiction works among the highlights.


Here’s what’s screening on the documentary front this year:


Teaches of Peaches

In-theatre: May 25

There are few voices in music as strong and singular as Peaches. The unclassifiable singer still gets audiences of all ages and all stripes of the rainbow on their feet with her energetic stage presence. Teaches of Peaches looks at the impact of Peaches, aka Merrill Nisker, past and present, particularly the success of her breakthrough album the Teaches of Peaches. Directors Philipp Fussenegger and Judy Landkammer follow Peaches on tour as she kicks it old school. “In the wake of a seemingly endless sea of music docs, Teaches of Peaches gamely embraces the singularity of its subject in order to stand out in the crowd,” I wrote while reviewing the film during Hot Docs. “It finds the right balance between rough around the edges and artfully elevated. Cats abound in interviews, while the editing favours candid moments that sanitized, broadcast-ready music docs would leave in the edit suite.”


A Mother Apart

In-theatre: June 1

An audience favourite at Hot Docs this year, A Mother Apart from director Laurie Townshend offers an intimate portrait of generational healing. The film joins poet/activist Staceyann Chin as she searches for her mother, while embarking on a parallel quest to connect with her own daughter, Zuri. Along the way, Chin learns what it means to be a responsible and loving parent and child by examining the relationships with two women in her life. “The essence of A Mother Apart then becomes not Chin’s painful childhood, but rather her moving journey from anger to empathy,” wrote Susan G. Cole while reviewing the film during Hot Docs. “She discovers how to find grace for someone who failed her.”


Bulletproof: A Lesbian’s Guide to Surviving the Plot

In-theatre: May 25

A hilarious and hilariously depressing exploration of the “bury your gays” trope fuels this documentary by Regan Latimer. Bulletproof offers a personal journey through lesbian representation in television and looks back on a history of series that have written out and/or killed off their lesbian characters. The film considers the power of onscreen representation as Latimer and a chorus of talking heads from the field share what it means to see oneself all too rarely in meeting, and see like-minded characters enjoy fleeting moments of happiness only to get an arrow through the brain minutes later. (Check back shortly for our interview with Latimer!)


A Big Gay Hairy Hit! Where the Bears Are: The Documentary

In-theatre: May 24

A film that pairs nicely with Bulletproof, A Big Gay Hairy Hit offers a silly and celebratory look back at the breakthrough web series Where the Bears Are. All the key players join the party for this upbeat (if self-congratulatory) retrospective. The documentary tells how the dearth of hot and hairy men on television inspired friends to create and crowd-fund a web series that remedied the absence of substantial queer characters who weren’t simply defined by their sexuality. But the participants and creators capture a unique moment in the pre-streaming age in which the power of community could really land a positive impact. Where the Bears Are offers something of a well-earned challenge to streamers, distributors, and broadcasters to be mindful of diverse representation among LGBTQ+ stories while flying the rainbow flag.



In-Theatre: May 26

The life and work of nêhiyaw (Cree) artist George Littlechild offers an engaging Two Spirit perspective to this year’s festival. Director Conor McNally invites Littlechild to share his story and the experience that informs his work in this delicately poetic artistic portrait. Littlechild looks back upon his childhood as a survivor of the Sixties Scoop, and reflects upon his need to reconnect with his Indigenous roots, which ultimately gave him a deeper understanding of himself and helped him come up as a Two Spirit person, finding love and acceptance in his Cree community that didn’t come as easily in settler culture. The doc adds to the portraits of Indigenous resilience that Littlechild creates.


Dalton’s Dream

In-theatre May 25; Online as of May 26

Audiences may know Dalton Harris as the 2018 winner of the singing competition X Factor, but they might not be familiar with the brutal backlash he faced due to rumours of his sexuality. Directors Kim Longinotto and Frank Murrary Brown offer a profile doc that proves unexpectedly timely after The Voice just crowned its first openly LGBTQ+ singer by giving Asher HaVon the title. Dalton’s Dream looks at the recent backlash that Harris faced in his native Jamaica, and the subsequent boycotts and mental health struggles that came with the spotlight. The artist finds his voice and opens up in this documentary.


Desire Lines

In-Theatre May 25; online as of May 26

Catch the Toronto premiere of one of the year’s most innovative films with Desire Lines. The film by Jules Rosskam features interviews with transgender men and a dramatic narrative starring Aden Hakimi and Theo Germaine to explore the stories of people who come out as gay after transitioning. “I was really surprised to hear how many men had gone to gay bathhouses and had really affirming positive experiences, including affirming experiences about their bodies and understanding their bodies to be, in some instances, not that different from cis men’s bodies,” says Rosskam in an interview with POV. “That was huge for them.”


Join the Club        

In-theatre: May 25

Move over, Dallas Buyers Club. The stories of the Cannabis Buyers Club and San Francisco pot dealer Dennis Peron fuel a portrait of an unexpected activist. The film looks at how medicinal use of marijuana proved a balm during the AIDS epidemic and how Peron mobilized his network to create a five-story dispensary at a time when the community needed him. Join the Club illustrates a queer cornerstone in the larger history of America’s movement to legalize marijuana.


Unusually Normal

In-theatre May 26; online May 27

Calling the Fords “Canada’s gayest family” would be a badge of honour. Unusually Normal follows three generations of women in one family who are all out and proud. Director Colette Johnson Vosberg shows how the family members harness the power of social media to create a sense of community, combat homophobia, and share the love that makes them strong.


A House Is Not a Disco

In-theatre June 1; Online as of June 2

Audiences looking for some sunshine and eye candy at the beach can get some at Inside Out without (hopefully!) getting sand on their butts with A House Is Not a Disco. This beautifully shot film from Brian J. Smith looks at the summer haven of Fire Island Pines and gains perspectives from generations of queer residents who find the island a safe place to thrive and bump to the beats. The film features warm fun-in-the-sun cinematography as it considers the destination recently depicted in the queer comedy Fire Island, and all the complexity entailed within the creation of a safe haven in a relatively exclusive locale.

Inside Out runs May 24 to June 1.


Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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