The Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival takes place April 27 to May 7, 2017 at various locations in Toronto. There’s always a good selection of queer-themed flicks to check out, and here’s a list of recommended viewing. Get your tickets in advance.

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Artscapes

With a fierce and haunting persona, lauded majestic chanteuse Chavela Vargas was an out lesbian songstress who revolutionized music in Mexico, challenged cultural norms and played lover to legends like Frida Kahlo.

DIVINE DIVAS

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Singular Sensation(s)

ELIZABETH SMART: ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS

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Focusing on the turbulent life and loves of celebrated Canadian poet and author of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, this provocative, award-winning film beautifully captures the conflicts between passion, responsibility and art.

FORBIDDEN GAMES

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This genre-bending doc is a cornerstone of lesbian oral history, featuring interviews with 10 women across Canada about their love lives in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and infused with a seductive—and timeless—humour.

GIRL INSIDE

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Madison, a sweet 26-year-old transitioning from male to female, gets lessons on all things feminine from her martini-drinking grandmother and unexpectedly finds love with her best friend.

GREY VIOLET – ODD ONE OUT

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Driven out of Moscow by police persecution and far-right fundamentalism, a queer artist and activist seeks asylum in Finland, offering a fascinating perspective on dissidence in the face of authoritarianism.

HOUSE OF Z

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Take a front-row seat in the life of wunderkind designer Zac Posen with this stylish account of the meteoric rise, sudden demise and budding comeback of one of the fashion world’s darlings.

INTEGRAL MAN

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A Renaissance man, Jim Stewart—violinist, calculus professor, philanthropist, LGBT activist and the most published mathematician since Euclid—took 10 years to realize his dream: a private Toronto residence cum concert hall hailed as an architectural masterpiece.

THE LIVES OF THÉRÈSE

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Approaching the end of her life, one of France’s fiercest feminist and LGBT activists asks for her final months to be filmed so she can confront yet another taboo, aging and death, in this deeply empathetic film.

MERMAIDS

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In this tribute to the eternal allure of an ancient myth, colourful fins and swimming pools fill the lives of five modern-day women who strive to embody the mysterious siren as part of a growing “mermaiding” subculture.

THE MYSTERY OF MAZO DE LA ROCHE

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Before Laurence, Munro and Atwood, another Canadian woman took the literary world by storm. Weaving biography with speculative fiction, this lush and intelligent film imagines the private life of the writer of the Jalna novels with her longtime female companion.

QUEST

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Set against the backdrop of a country now in turmoil, Quest is an intimate, tender depiction of an African-American family in North Philadelphia whose home music studio serves as a creative sanctuary from the strife that grips their neighbourhood.

REBELS ON POINTE

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Follow “the Trocks”—the world-famous drag ballerinas with a cult-like following—on their tour to meet adoring fans in Japan, Canada and across Europe, and get to know the talented men behind the makeup and tutus.

STRONG ISLAND

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Twenty years after an unarmed African-American was shot during an altercation with a young white mechanic, his brother revisits the circumstances that left his sibling dead and the killer uncharged in this powerful investigation of love, loss and justice.

SUSANNE BARTSCH: ON TOP

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This New York nightlife icon, event promoter, Love Ball–founder and Chelsea Hotel denizen leads us on a no-holds-barred journey through her one-of-a-kind life—fabulous friends, outrageous fashions and all.

TAKE A WALK ON THE WILDSIDE

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As owner of the Wildside store in downtown Toronto, Paddy Aldridge sells wigs, silicone breasts and stiletto heels to her cross-dressing customers. Take a walk on the Wildside to discover some of the regulars who have been living out their dress-up fantasies for more than 30 years.

Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival – April 27 to May 5, 2017. Various locations.

Click here for the full schedule of programming and ticket information.

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.