The representation of homosexuality in cinema has changed dramatically since film first became the most popular form of pop culture communication more than 100 years ago.
Stereotypes have been smashed, much social shame has been lifted and mainstream representation is at an all time high.
Still, not all of the stigmas are gone and not all of the unwarranted hate has halted. That is why a festival like Inside Out is just as relevant and vital today as it has ever been.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Inside Out — Toronto’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered film and video festival — runs from May 20 through 30; 10 days of moving images that collect a diverse tapestry of voices, all commenting on issues centered around gay culture and identity.
“This year is really great,” says longtime festival executive director Scott Ferguson.
“I’m really excited about some of our retrospective programming (like a revival of Todd Haynes’ Poison) and especially the films featured in our spotlight on South America.
“One film in particular from that series is Undertow. It’s the story of a married fisherman in a small village who’s having an affair with another man. But nothing in the film is cliché and it totally twists conventions. It’s a masterpiece.”
Other highlights at this year’s Inside Out include a fantastic array of documentaries on iconic counterculture heroes, like Warhol Factory stud Joe Dallesandro (the compelling and revealing Hey Joe) and avant-garde underground filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar (the brilliant and hilarious It Came from Kuchar), as well as a selection of homegrown works helmed by Canadians and whose messages know no borders.
“There’s a fantastic film we have featured as part of our Canadian content called Bear Nation,” Ferguson reveals.
“It’s directed by Malcom Ingram, who made a fantastic film last year called Small Town Gay Bar. It looks at Bear culture and the place Bears (another name for burly, hirsute gay men) have within the gay community.
“It’s funny as hell, but also moving. But really, there’s just so much incredible content this year…you have to come check us out.”
For the complete screening schedule, panel listings and celebrity appearances visit insideout.ca.