The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will present 232 titles from 51 countries in 12 screening programs, with work by female filmmakers representing close to 40% of the 2016 program, and a significant list of queer programming as well.

In addition to the opening night world premiere of Rama Rau’sLeague of Exotique Dancers, a testament to an empowering and timeless form of artistic expression and sexuality, other notable films in the Special Presentations program include: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s Sonita, which captures a young Afghan’s rebellion against patriarchal familial tradition with her rap lyrics; Brendan Byrne’s emotive retelling of Bobby Sands; hunger strike in Bobby Sands: 66 Days; Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen’s Audrie & Daisy, which explores the cycle of trauma caused by cyberbullying and sexual assault in a modern age; Jared P. Scottâ’s The Age of Consequences, an expose about US national security and climate change; Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross’ Contemporary Color, a sensational portrait of the vibrant art form known as colour guard; and Sour Grapes, a baffling crime-documentary set in the world of fine wine helmed by Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas.

Here’s a handy list of films featuring LGBT themes. Check website for screening dates, times, and location.

CAFÉ DÉSIRS

D: Raymonde Provencher | Canada | 2015 | 52 min | World Premiere

Trapped between crushing sexual taboos and desire, three beautiful 20-something Algerian men take us into the ancient streets of Constantine and the men-only world of cafés to eloquently talk about their lives and the dangers of same-sex attraction.

Screening with THE MAGIC HEDGE – D: Frédéric Moffet | Canada, USA | 2016 | 9 min | World Premiere

CHECK IT

D: Dana Flor, Toby Oppenheimer | USA | 2016 | 91 min | International Premiere

Under constant threat of assault, black LGBT youth in a rough Washington, D.C. neighbourhood fight back, forming a feared gang. But they can’t shield themselves from the dangers of poverty and exploitation, leading four members to seek another way out.

MADONNA: TRUTH OR DARE

D: Alek Keshishian | USA | 1991 | 122 min

Widely regarded as one of the best music documentaries ever made, Madonna defies boundaries and dares us to look away in this candid, compelling and unexpectedly revealing journey around the world, behind the scenes of her Blond Ambition tour.

THE PEARL

D: Jessica Dimmock, Christopher LaMarca | USA | 2015 | 94 min | International Premiere

Embracing their authentic selves in midlife or later, four transgender women in the rural Pacific Northwest bravely begin their transitions. With raw emotion, the burdensome secrets they once carried fall away as they now grapple with new challenges.

THE PEARL OF AFRICA

D: Jonny von Wallström | Sweden | 2016 | 90 min | World Premiere

Love is a matter of life and death for a transgender woman in Uganda who must navigate bigoted laws, public attacks and forced separation from her boyfriend. Under these dire circumstances, can love really conquer all?

THE SEX TEMPLE

D: Johan Palmgren | Sweden | 2015 | 81 min | Canadian Premiere

A straight swingers club partners with a queer burlesque show in a bawdy business plan to revive a beautiful, centuries-old Swedish theatre facing financial ruin. But confronted with a campaign decrying its “depravity,” can the pansexual playground survive?

Screening with HATTIE GOES CRUISING – D: Konstantin Bock | USA, Germany, Canada | 2015 | 17 min | Canadian Premiere

THE SLIPPERS

D: Morgan White | Canada | 2016 | 90 min | Canadian Premiere

This fantastic story of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz is littered with theft, embitterment, conspiracies and Debbie Reynolds’ dream of a museum as it skips down the yellow brick road of the golden age of Hollywood costuming.

Screening with BOOTWMN – D: Paige Gratland, Sam McWilliams | Canada | 2015 | 11 min | Canadian Premiere

SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR

D: Deborah S. Esquenazi | USA | 2016 | 89 min | International Premiere

The nightmarish persecution of four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of molestation is exposed in this startling investigation that reveals the sinister interplay of homophobia and prosecutorial fervour that led to a modern-day witch hunt.

STRIKE A POSE

D: Ester Gould, Reijer Zwaan | Netherlands, Belgium | 2016 | 83 min | Canadian Premiere

The scene-stealing dancers from Madonna’s wildly popular concert doc Truth or Dare open up 25 years later about life after suddenly becoming gay icons at a young and, for some, unready age.

SUITED

D: Jason Benjamin | USA | 2016 | 74 min | International Premiere

The clientele of Bindle & Keep, a Brooklyn company that tailors bespoke suits for people across the gender spectrum, share their deeply personal stories of realizing their new identities, embracing difference and living bravely in one’s own skin.

Screening with HANDSOME & MAJESTIC – D: Nathan Drillot, Jeff Petry | Canada | 2015 | 12 min | World Premiere

TICKLED

D: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve | New Zealand | 2015 | 92 min | Canadian Premiere

A journalist pursues a story on “competitive endurance tickling” after seeing a bizarre video online, but his inquiries are met with such hostility that he doggedly digs deeper—uncovering something more shocking than ever imagined.

Hot Docs, April 28–May 8, 2016.

Ticket Box Office –  at 610 Markham Street,  416-637-5150, or online.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.