The Toronto Inside Out LGBT Film Festival begins this week, and the programming line up is looking as diverse and exciting as ever!

The Opening Night Gala offers the Canadian Premiere of God’s Own Country, following its success at the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival. The Women’s Gala, taking place opening weekend, will be the Canadian Premiere of Signature Move , co-written, produced and starring Pakistani-Canadian comedian Fawzia Mirza. The World Premiere of Tom Gustafson’s film adaptation of the musical Hello Again will close out the Festival. The Centerpiece Gala will be the Canadian Premiere of Vincent Gagliostro’s debut feature, After Louie, starring Alan Cumming and Zachary Booth. Several other films will be screened over the course of the 10-day festival.

The films in this year’s Special Presentations program explore artistic expression, sexual identity and courage as told through the stories of gay men destined for greatness.

The biopic Tom of Finland tells the true story of Tuoko Laaksonen, the visionary artist behind those infamous charcoal drawings. It’s the beautiful story of a courageous man who stands at the centre of the gay revolution. Director Katherine Fairfax Wright (Call Me Kuchu) returns to Inside Out with her new documentary Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall, which gives us an insider’s look as the YouTube superstar launches his most ambitious project yet, the original musical Straight Outta Oz.

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The Premieres Programme highlights include the World Premiere of HOOKED, the debut feature from Instagram star Max Emerson who writes, directes, and stars in the film about the complicated, timely exploration of issues that plague LGBTQ youth; the North American Premiere of Jurgen Ureña’s HOLD ME LIKE BEFORE, a Costa Rican take on Tangerine that captures an intelligent and intimate part of Costa Rica that is rarely portrayed on film; the North American Premiere of Neil Triffett’s debut feature, EMO THE MUSICAL, a cheerfully subversive take on Romeo and Juliet tale of teenage star-crossed lovers that swaps warring families for battling high school bands; and the Canadian Premiere of Albert Alarr’sA MILLION HAPPY NOWS, featuring soap opera stars Crystal Chappell (Days of Our Lives) and Jessica Leccia (One Life to Live), the fan-favourite twosome on Guiding Light, who reunite in this film as a couple facing an uncertain future.

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This year’s Icons Series will once again showcase an outstanding selection of documentaries that delve into the struggles, accomplishments and the indelible impact of revolutionary, resilient and irresistible queer icons.

The International Premiere of The Fabulous Allan Carr, directed by Festival Favourite Jeffrey Schwarz (Vito, Tab Hunter Confidential), documents the rise and fall of Allan Carr, the creative genius behind Grease, Can’t Stop the Music and Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles.

The International Premiere of Mansfield 66/67, a delightfully absurd investigation into the relationship between Jayne Mansfield and Anton LeVay’s Church of Satan.

Free CeCe, which examines the epidemic of brutal violence against transgender women of colour through the life of CeCe McDonald who was attacked in 2011 and unjustly incarcerated;

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, a poignant celebration of Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin that features interviews with Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellan and Amy Tan and won the Documentary Spotlight Audience Award at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival.

Chavela, an intimate portrait of the turbulent life of legendary Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, from her affair with Frida Kahlo to her struggles with alcoholism and violence.

Jewel’s Catch One is the story of Jewel Thais-Williams and her club Catch One, which started in the 1970s as a refuge to those who sought and found community within its walls.

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Spotlight on Canada celebrates Canada’s emerging and established talent and includes the Festival favourite shorts programme Local Heroes; International Showcase presents inspiring films from the international Festival circuit; and Shorts offers the most diverse collection of queer-focused short films.

SPOTLIGHT ON CANADA
The Spotlight on Canada programme is a bold showcase that highlights Canadian queer cinema. This year the programme presents the World Premiere of GINGER NATION, a film by Shawn Hitchins, Mitch Fillion and Jonathan Soja, documenting gay Toronto comic Hitchins’ humourous and heartfelt one-man show of the same name as he recounts his experience as a sperm donor to his lesbian friends; Bobbi Jo Hart’s REBELS ON POINTE, an affectionate and entertaining celebration of the world famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the all-male drag ballet that mixes high art with sharp humour as it parodies the conventions and clichés of classical ballet; and James Fanizza’s debut feature, SEBASTIAN, about a highly inconvenient love affair between a man named Alex (played by Fanizza) and his boyfriend’s cousin who’s visiting Canada from Argentina. Inside Out will present their annual showcase, LOCAL HEREOS, highlighting the creativity, talent and imagination of Toronto artists.

For the full details on Spotlight on Canada click here.

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INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASE
This year’s International Showcase features 24 films with powerful stories from around the world, with offerings from Germany, Armenia, Taiwan, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, Israel, more. Highlights include the Canadian Premiere of director Pouria Heidary Oureh’s APRICOT GROVES, about the struggles against an inhospitable backdrop of religious and societal oppression; the International Premiere of Yair Qedar and Ilan Peled’s BEBE, chronicles the fictional life of Israeli transgender cabaret star Bebe Goldberg; the International Premiere of Assad Yacoub’s CHERRY POPrecounts an evening at a dive drag bar where contestant ‘The Cherry’ will perform in drag for the first time; the Canadian Premiere of Carla Cavina’s EXTRA TERRESTRIALS, where astrophysicists in love, a chicken farmer’s war against corruption and a family where everyone has a secret are part of an eccentric coming out story; and Jochen Hick’s MY WONDERFUL WEST BERLIN explores the historic roots of a fascinating city that is a dream destination and a refuge for gay men from around the world.

For the full International Showcase lineup click here.

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SHORTS
The Festival’s robust shorts programme will offer 80 films from some of the freshest LGBT voices in cinema.

For full details on the Shorts programme click here.

Inside Out LGBT Film Festival – May 25 to June 4, 2017

Click here for more information, complete schedules, 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.