Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, offers an outstanding selection of over 200 films from Canada and around the world, so navigating through this awesome collection can sometimes be overwhelming. So theBUZZ has compiled a list of LGBT-themed films that will be of interest to our readers, as well as a selection of music-themed documentaries as well. Enjoy!


Killing Patient Zero

This world premiere looks at the devasting impact of the 1980s AIDS epidemic and clears the name of the Québécois flight attendant known as “patient zero”. 1981: A mere seven years since homosexuality had been de-classified as a mental illness in North America. There was progress and a feeling of gay liberation in the air—and then, suddenly, a new disease was killing gay men. Initially called the “gay plague,” AIDS became a shocking illustration of the entrenched homophobia of the time, with thousands of gay men dying before media attention and medical resources were brought to bear. At the centre of this storm stood Patient Zero, the man accused of spreading AIDS in North America, vilified as the embodiment of gay hedonism and promiscuity. Director Laurie Lynd peels back the layers of homophobia and misinformation to reveal the person behind the epithet, Québécois flight attendant Gaétan Dugas. Based on Richard McKay’s groundbreaking book Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic, this is a fascinating portrait not only of a man, but of a crisis that shocked a community into action. 

Fri, Apr 26 8:30 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 

Sat, Apr 27 12:30 PM Scotiabank Theatre 4

Fri, May 3 2:45 PM Hart House Theatre 


Our Dance of Revolution

An overdue look at Toronto’s Black LGBTQ community that presents an oral history of local legends and freedom fighters. This untold history of Toronto’s Black queer community spans four decades of passionate activist rebellion. Refusing to be silenced and raging with love, the featured trailblazers demanded a city where they could all live their truths free from the threat of violence. In the spaces they found for loud laughter and sweaty block parties, they also found themselves. Each bit of revolutionary ground was gained collaboratively, whether protesting police brutality, forming feminist collectives or making room for grief and healing in the wake of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Their transformative creativity and visionary organizing made Toronto more livable for generations to follow. Our Dance of Revolution celebrates the living legends among us by unearthing what has been made invisible. Come honour this hidden chapter of Toronto’s history and witness the courage it took to dance in the street for the struggle.

Mon, Apr 29 6:15 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 

Wed, May 1 2:45 PM Scotiabank Theatre 3  

Fri, May 3 12:00 PM Scotiabank Theatre 8  


Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts

Takes viewers behind-the-scenes of half-Ojibwa drag queen Trixie Mattel’s one-woman show. Trixie Mattel, the half-Ojibwa drag queen, folk musician, comedian and TV personality—best known for snatching the crown in season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars—provides an all-access pass to her one-woman show tour. While Trixie may radiate near-delusional confidence, the man beneath the makeup, Brian Firkus, does not, and that tension is what makes this character profile so revealing and unguarded. With insights into Trixie’s performances and Brian’s personal life, this peek behind the curtain explores the darkness that underpins comedy, the stress of the spotlight, the monotony of the road and the pressures of performing solo. As Trixie watches herself on All Stars not knowing whether she’s won (spoiler alert: they film alternate endings!), discusses overnight success on Skype with fellow queen Jinkx Monsoon, and tapes The Trixie and Katya Show with BFF Katya Zamolodchikova, we grasp how fleeting friendship and fame can be.

Sat, Apr 27 9:30 PM Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

Sun, Apr 28 3:30 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1  

Fri, May 3 8:45 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1  

Sat, May 4 9:45 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1  



For a British trans man yearning for a child, the journey to conceiving is anything but straightforward. Through intimate access, experience this story of heartache, determination and love that illuminates what it truly takes to be a father. Freddy, a young British trans man, dreams of becoming a father. Knowing full well the complications and hardships of attempting pregnancy, Freddy moves forward on his road to having a child. Over three years, the emotional, mental and physical toll rises as he and his partner face the heartache of unsuccessful attempts. But with every roadblock testing his spirit and drive, Freddy still clings determinedly to hope. The process also has him look back and reflect on his own upbringing through old photos and home movies. Raised mostly by his mother, who remains a supportive presence in his life, he struggles with how to break the news to his absentee father. Through lyrical storytelling and incredibly intimate access, we experience a story both familiar and unfamiliar: the passion, the pain and the love it takes to become a father. 

Tue, Apr 30 9:00 PM Scotiabank Theatre 8 

Wed, May 1 1:15 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 


Take Me To Prom

Dressed in their dream outfits, a group of people take us back to the night of their prom. Vivid memories of the music, dancing, outrageous stories and poignant moments make the event an unforgettable turning point in a journey of unapologetic queer identity and expression. 

Wed, May 1 7:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Sat, May 4 10:00 AM TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Screening With My Dads, My Moms and Me



Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind

Explore the career, music, and influence of Canadian songwriting legend Gordon Lightfoot. On our screen after a sold-out Hot Docs premiere, the film candidly takes us from rural Ontario in the 50s and the iconic coffeehouses of Yorkville and Greenwich Village in the 60s, through to Lightfoot’s substance-fueled arena shows of the 70s, and finally to his life today. Featuring interviews with Sarah McLachlan, Alec Baldwin, Rush, and more, If You Could Read My Mind is an intimate examination of the troubadour’s profound relationship to his music and the country he calls home.

From the song he refuses to perform to his admiration for Drake, a songwriting legend reflects on his lyrics and longevity with candour and humour. At 80 years young (and currently recording another album), Gordon Lightfoot continues to entertain and enlighten. Personal archive materials and studio sessions paint an intimate picture of an artist in his element, candidly revisiting his idealistic years in Yorkville’s coffeehouses, up through stadium tours and the hedonistic ’70s. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Barbra Streisand are only a handful of the stars whose recordings of “Early Morning Rain” and other hits helped Lightfoot’s artistry leap across borders, but no matter how far his music travelled, he continued to write passionately about the country he called home. As fellow music icon Burton Cummings sums it up, “Gordon’s stuff screamed Canada.” With his instantly recognizable voice and masterful guitar playing, Gordon Lightfoot remains influential and timeless. 


Below Screenings are both sold out, with Rush Tickets Only.

Sat, Apr 27 6:45 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 

Tue, Apr 30 6:30 PM Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Special Presentation featuring directors Joan Tosoni and Martha Kehoe and Gordon Lightfoot. 

The film also opens at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema May 24 and runs until May 31.


Mystify: Michael Hutchence

A tribute to the life and career of Michael Hutchence, lead singer of rock band INXS who died 1997. Australian band INXS provided the soundtrack to millions of lives in the 1980s and 90s and made an entire generation sit up and listen like thieves to their music. Wildly popular lead singer and songwriter Michael Hutchence created a new sensation with his unmistakable voice, but who was this shining star? Long-time collaborator and music video director Richard Lowenstein creates a loving tribute to the frontman who shared the gift of his massive talent with a public who barely knew him. Remembered by the men and women who understood him best, Hutchence is shown in split-screen as both sophisticated and gregarious, shy and insecure. All the voices featured, including famous girlfriends Kylie Minogue and Helena Christensen, remember the good and bad times through intimate home movies and private memories. We may sing along to his songs but what do we really know about this sensualist whose original sin was feeling too much and who disappeared from the world once he could no longer find pleasure in it?

Sun, Apr 28 9:30 PM Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

Mon, Apr 29 9:15 PM Hart House Theatre

Wed, May 1 10:00 AM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Sun, May 5 1:15 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1


Beauty and Decay

Introduces audiences to a stone-faced club bouncer who’s also a gifted photographer that captured East Berlin’s 1980s punk scene. In Berlin, Sven Marquardt is legendary for working as the stone-faced gatekeeper of ultra-exclusive techno club Berghain, but there’s more to the famous bouncer than meets the eye: he also wrote a bestselling autobiography and is an accomplished photographer. Now, as Germany celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Marquardt revisits his days as a young East German punk. This glimpse of his early career also sees him reunite with his former muse, Dominique Hollenstein, to shoot a new series of portraits, and looks in on the life of his friend Robert Paris, a photographer who moved away from his art and now spends most of the year as a happy family man in India. Moving between observational scenes of Marquardt at work and highlights of his gorgeous black-and-white portrait photography, Beauty and Decay is a fascinating look at three close friends, still giving society the middle finger and ignoring preconceived notions of what it means to age.

Fri, Apr 26 8:30 PM Scotiabank Theatre 3

Sat, Apr 27 1:15 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Sun, May 5 6:30 PM Scotiabank Theatre 13


The El Duce Tapes

About notorious frontman of shock-rock band The Mentors who gained infamy in the ‘80s and ‘90s for his hateful behavior. A wilfully offensive band, The Mentors gained infamy for performing in black executioner hoods and spewing cartoonishly racist, homophobic and misogynistic lyrics in the 1980s and ‘90s—but was their use of shock meant to propagate hate or confront it? Denounced by the US Senate, reviled on The Jerry Springer Show and unforgettable in Kurt & Courtney, The Mentors’ lead singer, El Duce, occupied a brief zeitgeist moment. Ryan Sexton, an actor with roles on General Hospital and in local commercials, began to document El Duce’s day-to-day life at this notorious peak. And it’s his recovered VHS footage from 25 years ago that directors David Lawrence and Rodney Ascher sift through here to discover who El Duce really was. How much of his repellent persona was genuine? What does The Mentors’ controversial output mean to pop culture and social commentary? And what role does parody, perversion and provocation play in challenging our ideas about art, morality and censorship?

Fri, Apr 26 8:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Sat, Apr 27 2:45 PM Scotiabank Theatre 3

Sat, May 4 8:15 PM Scotiabank Theatre 8


The World or Nothing

From their cousin’s couch in Barcelona, inseparable identical twins Rubert and Rubildo upload self-made music videos. The brothers share a laptop and a dream of achieving internet fame. Determined to make it as YouTube sensations, they pledge to make their parents in Cuba proud. In this, her first documentary film, award-winning indie queen Ingrid Veninger uses her understated observational camera to follow the twins as they roam the streets and beaches of their new home on the lookout for video material. In moments of candid honesty, the reserved brothers open up about what they’ve sacrificed to achieve their dream and what celebrity may mean to their family back home. The World or Nothing is a tender look at the millennial search for online fame, the immigrant dream of “making it” and the inspiring bonds of brotherly love. 

Co-presented with Women in Film & Television–Toronto (WIFT-T).

Sat, Apr 27 8:45 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Sun, Apr 28 1:15 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Thu, May 23:00 PM Hart House Theatre


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.