Inside Out Toronto LGBTQ+ Film Festival showcases over 100 queer films, both in person and virtual – May 25 to Jun 4, 2023
The festival’s opening night film this year is the Canadian Premiere of acclaimed filmmaker Ira Sachs’ French romantic drama PASSAGES, which premiered earlier this year at Sundance to rave reviews. The drama about three people caught in a love triangle marked by passion, jealousy, and narcissism stars Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, and Adele Exarchopoulos. Closing the festival will be the World Premiere of a fantastical summer romance with a big musical heart, GLITTER & DOOM by Tom Gustafson, which is a love story told through the song lyrics by the Indigo Girls and features Alex Diaz, Missy Pyle, Tig Notaro, Alan Cammish and Lea DeLaria, along with the Indigo Girls themselves.
This year’s RE:Focus Gala selection is the Sundance Next Audience Award and Berlin Panorama Audience Award winner, KOKOMO CITY by Grammy-nominated artist, D. Smith. Through laughter and conversation, D. Smith captures an unapologetic and unfiltered look into the lives of four Black transgender sex workers. The documentary also features a unique and exhilarating soundtrack that matches the film’s striking black and white visuals.
Inside Out’s Centerpiece Gala will host the World Premiere of Canadian documentary, SUPPORTING OUR SELVES, directed by Lulu Wei. The documentary is a moving exploration of more than four decades of the Toronto-based philanthropic organization, Community One Foundation, which continues to support the needs of the 2SLGTBQ+ communities.
Highlights from the Special Presentations lineup include the Canadian premieres of Ally Pankiw’s I USED TO BE FUNNY and Georgia Oakley’s BLUE JEAN. Fresh from its SXSW Grand Jury Nomination, I USED TO BE FUNNY features Rachel Sennott (SHIVA BABY), Olga Petsa, Jason Jones, Dani Kind, and Ennis Esmer. The Canadian writer-director’s debut feature is about an au pair and aspiring stand-up comic, struggling with PTSD, who must decide if she wants to join the search for a missing teen she used to nanny. BLUE JEAN is a story about a gym teacher living a double life in Thatcher’s England. It comes to Inside Out after winning Venice’s Giornate Degli Autori’s People’s Choice, Best Lead Performance for star Rosy McEwen at the British Independent Film Awards, as well as multiple BAFTA nominations, including Outstanding Debut for Oakley.
Other notable festival titles include the World Premieres of Loveleen Kaur’s music documentary LEILANI’S FORTUNE, which follows Toronto queer, immigrant Ethiopian-Eritrean artist Witch Prophet as she navigates newfound momentum in the music industry; and Ian Gabriel’s RUNS IN THE FAMILY, a heartfelt dramedy about a father-son road trip across South Africa. Inside Out will also host the Canadian premiere of MUTT, which played at the Berlin and Sundance festivals earlier this year to critical acclaim, and focuses on a trans character as they adjust into their new life and identity.
Additional festival highlights include the Canadian premieres of 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES by Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren. The Berlin Guild Film Prize winner is the story of a young child and her path to discover her identity alongside her mother and the women in her family; and ALL THE COLOURS OF THE WORLD ARE BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE, the Teddy Award winner by Nigeria’s Babtunde Apalowo about a delivery driver in Lagos whose quiet life is disrupted by a friendly, easy-going photographer.
Inside Out will also host a special 20th Anniversary screening of Richard Linklater’s SCHOOL OF ROCK, starring Jack Black, with cast member Rivkah Reyes in attendance (who also has a film they wrote, GIANNA, playing at the festival).
All in-person screenings at the festival will take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, and all industry events, including the opening and closing night parties, as well as the activities for the LGBTQ International Financing Forum, will take place at Artscape Sandbox. Many films will also be available virtually and available in Ontario.
Individual tickets for screenings (in person and digital), ticket packages, and all-access passes are on sale at insideout.ca.
BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND
IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL
COMMITMENT TO LIFE
I USED TO BE FUNNY
NARROW PATH TO HAPPINESS
RUNS IN THE FAMILY
SUPPORTING OUR SELVES
WOLF and DOG
Full 2023 Festival Listings Below
PASSAGES, directed by Ira Sachs (France/Narrative)
The latest work by acclaimed filmmaker Ira Sachs starring Ben Whishaw, Franz Rogowski and Adele Excharpouplo, is a tale about two men who wonder if their crumbling marriage can survive when one of them has an affair with a woman.
GLITTER & DOOM, director by Tom Gustafson (USA/Narrative)
When carefree Glitter and aspiring musician Doom meet it is love at first sight but they have only 29 days to discover if their love will last. Told through song lyrics by the Indigo Girls, the romance features some of their greatest hits, including the iconic anthem “Closer to Fine.” The film stars Alex Diaz, Alan Cammish, Lea DeLaria, Missi Pyle, Tig Notaro, and the Indigo Girls themselves.
KOKOMO CITY, directed by D. Smith (USA/Documentary)
Through conversation and laughter, Grammy nominated artist D. Smith presents a vibrant portrait of four black transgender sex workers in New York and Georgia who reflect on belonging and identity within the Black community and beyond.
SUPPORTING OUR SELVES, directed by Lulu Wei (Canada/Documentary)
A moving exploration of more than four decades of activism, told through the lens of the Toronto-based philanthropic organization, Community One Foundation. What started as a predominantly white, middle-class collective redefined itself during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ’90s and continues to adapt today to better meet the needs of our Toronto communities.
I USED TO BE FUNNY, directed by Ally Pankiw (Canada/Narrative)
An au pair and aspiring stand-up comedian, struggling with PTSD, must decide to join the search for a missing teenage girl she used to nanny as she tries to recover from her trauma and get back on stage.
BLUE JEAN, directed by Georgia Oakley (UK/Narrative)
Jean, a gym teacher, struggling to live her life openly under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government faces a crisis with the arrival of a new student that challenges Jean to her core.
20,000 SPECIES OF BEES (20.000 ESPECIES DE ABEJAS), directed by Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren (Spain / Narrative)
An eight-year-old child struggles with identity, her birth name feels very wrong, and her nickname Cocó doesn’t feel quite right either. During a summer among the beehives, she explores her name and identity alongside her mother and the women of her family.
OPPONENT (MOTSTANDAREN), directed by Milad Alami (Sweden/Narrative)
Iman and his family were forced to flee Iran and end up in northern Sweden. To protect his family he joins a local wrestling club. However, one sparring partner in particular ignites old feelings and Iman must choose between his own desires and the safety of his family.
RUNS IN THE FAMILY, directed by Ian Gabriel (South Africa/Narrative)
Former scam artist Varun and his trans drag performer son, River, embark on a road trip across South Africa. As River worries about missing Her Majesty’s Drag Competition and the opportunity to win the prize money to pay for his top surgery, secrets bubble to the surface and the duo’s relationship will be tested like never before.
SISI & I (SIS & ICH), directed by Frauke Finsterwalder (Germany, Switzerland, Austria/ Narrative)
Countess Irma finds Empress Sisi in Greece, away from the etiquette of the court. They live in freedom, but no matter how much Irma and Sisi resist, in the end they are left with only one fatal path that will bind them together forever.
COMMITMENT TO LIFE, directed by Jeffrey Schwarz (USA / Documentary)
Hollywood played a critical role in the battle against HIV/AIDS as doctors, movie stars, studio moguls and activists came together to change the path of the epidemic and how the world saw it.
HUMMINGBIRDS, directed by Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefania ‘Beba” Contreras (USA/ Documentary)
Filmmakers and activists Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefanía “Beba” Contreras are coming of age in Laredo, Texas. Stuck in an immigration process with the threat of deportation for their families, they boldly refuse to be scared into submission and spend their days planning protest actions while expressing themselves with music, poetry, and art, creating magic in everyday moments.
IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?, directed by Ella Glendining (UK/Documentary)
Filmmaker Ella Glendining was born with a very rare disability. Using intimate video diary entries, conversations with similarly bodied people and doctors treating her condition, Ella explored what it takes to love oneself fiercely despite the pervasiveness of ableism.
IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL, directed by Alexandria Bambach (USA/Documentary)
Amy Ray and Emily Saliers began performing together in high school as queer friends who never expected to make it big. Against all odds, they broke through in the 1980s, maintaining musical careers on their own terms with an unwavering commitment to progressive politics and queer rights.
LEILANI’S FORTUNE, directed by Loveleen Kaur (Canada/Documentary)
An intimate journey with queer, immigrant, Ethiopian-Eritrean artist Witch Prophet, as she navigates newfound momentum in the music industry. After a decade of making music she is now receiving critical acclaim and nominations, finally getting the validation and support she needs to embark on the creation of the album of her prophecies.
SPOTLIGHT ON CANADA
A QUEER’S GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL LIVING, directed by Ari Conrad Birch and Michal Heuston (Canada/Documentary)
The lives of four queer folks from various religions meet at the intersection of faith and queerness – Summeiya, the genderfluid founder of Queer Muslim Network Toronto, Juliana, a bisexual teacher and former Baptist Christian, Vaibhav, a gay Hindu dancer, and Ari, a trans Coptic Orthodox drag artist.
BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND, directed by Trevor Anderson (Canada/Narrative)
Robin’s arrival at a small-town Alberta middle-school causes a stir because the students aren’t sure of Robin’s gender. When Robin becomes friends with Trevor, the school bully, their friendship is put to the test when they are both attracted to Izzy.
BLOOM ROOM, directed by Tristen Sutherland, Yasmijn Nicolle, Christian Anderson, Sochima Nwakaeze, Ajahnis Charley (Canada/Series)
This six-episode series follows a group of Black millennials in an online community who love plants. As the group becomes entangled in each other’s lives, they find purpose in caretaking for their plants and their budding relationships.
GOLDEN DELICIOUS, directed by Jason Karman (Canada/Narrative)
Everyone wants something from high school senior Jake. But it’s not until Aleks, an openly gay teen with a love for basketball, moves in across the street that Jake begins to struggle with his own desires. To get closer to Aleks, Jake devotes himself to making the basketball team – only to realize it’s not basketball he really wants.
SOMETHING YOU SAID LAST NIGHT, directed by Luis de Filippis (Canada, Switzerland/Narrative)
Ren reluctantly accompanies her very Italian family on a beach resort holiday. As Ren navigates a resort not suited to her trans identity and coped with her parents’ loving yet overbearing nature, she tries to balance the yearning for independence and the need to rely even more on her family’s support.
THIS PLACE, directed by V.T. Nayani (Canada/Narrative)
Kawenniióhstha leaves her community of Kahnawà:ke for Toronto and to find her Iranian father, who she has never met. Malai is a Tamil woman dealing with her father’s terminal illness and trying to decide what her future should look like. The women meet by chance but form an intense attraction and bond as they navigate complex issues of identity and family.
A PLACE OF OUR OWN (EK JAGAH APNI), directed by Ektara Collective (India/Narrative)
Trans women Laila and Roshni are looking for housing after they are evicted from their rental. As their search continues, it transcends physical spaces and biological bonds, and as new friendships blossom, help arrives from unexpected places.
ALL THE COLOURS OF THE WORLD ARE BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE, directed by Babatunde Apalowo (Nigeria/Narrative)
Bambino is a delivery driver in Lagos, living a quiet life but when he meets Bawa, a friendly and easygoing photographer, something clicks. But in a country where homosexuality is illegal and taboo, Bambino doesn’t know what to do with their connection; judging by the life choices of his friend Ifeyinwa, the options seem limited.
ALMAMULA, directed by Juan Sebastian Torales (France, Argentina, Italy/Narrative)
After being gay bashed by local boys, Nino’s family moves to their country home. Nino is forced to attend confirmation class and is warned not to enter a nearby forest or risk being captured by the Almamula, a mythic creature that takes away those who commit carnal sins. But he is pulled to explore the forest and find out if the Almamula is real.
BIG BOYS, directed by Corey Sherman (USA/Narrative)
Jamie’s dream camping trip is ruined before it even begins when he finds out that his beloved cousin is bringing her new boyfriend. Jamie’s initial jealousy of the competent and confident Dan quickly turns into a friendship as the weekend progresses, and Jamie comes to terms with who he is.
MUTT, directed by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz (USA/Narrative
Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life after he lost since transitioning – his relationships with his father, his younger half-sister, and his ex-boyfriend – all while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in-between.
NARROW PATH TO HAPPINESS, directed by Kata Olah (Hungary, USA/Narrative)
A young Romani couple living in a remote village in Hungary have a very big dream: to make a musical based on their lives so they go to Budapest where they can live more openly. But, they must return to their village for one ﬁnal reckoning, hoping to finally find the inspiration to write their own happy ending.
NORWEGIAN DREAMS, directed by Levi Igor Devold (Norway, Poland, Germany/Narrative)
Robert travels from Poland to begin work in a salmon processing plant off the Trøndelag coast in Norway. He begins spending time with colleague, and aspiring drag queen, Ivar. When a strike breaks out, his loyalty to his fellow workers is tested.
QUEENDOM, directed by Agniia Galdanova (USA/Documentary)
Gena, an artist from a small town in Russia, dresses in otherworldly costumes and protests on the streets of Moscow. She stages radical performances in public, which becomes a new form of art and activism and puts her life in danger.
SPECIAL 20th ANNIVERSARY SCREENING: SCHOOL OF ROCK, directed by Richard Linklater (USA/Narrative)
Fired from his band, down and out rockstar Dewey Finn (Jack Black) is desperate for work and takes a job as a substitute music teacher at an uptight private school where his attitude and hijinks have a powerful effect on his students.
Special guest, Rivkah Reyes (Katie), will be in attendance to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mike White and Richard Linklater’s classic comedy.
THE VENUS EFFECT (VENUSEFFEKTEN), directed by Anna Emma Haudal (Denmark/Narrative)
Responsible and level-headed Liv believes she has her whole life figured out but cracks begin to show in her stable and simple life the arrival of eccentric artist Andrea. As the two women grow closer Liv’s life is thrown off course and she must contend with a breakup, a divorce, and an identity crisis that jeopardizes her shot at a happy life with the woman she loves.
WOLF AND DOG (LOBO E CAO), directed by Claudia Varejao (Portugal, France/Narrative)
Friends Ana and Luis were born on the island of São Miguel. Both have been expected to fit into the lives that have been laid out for them. But watching Luis push back against his father’s expectations, Ana begins to question the world around her.
The full shorts lineup can be found here.
- Hashtag: #InsideOut2023
- Twitter: @InsideOutTO
- Instagram: @insideoutfestival
- Facebook: facebook.com/InsideOutFilmFestival
- YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/InsideOutToronto
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.