woman wearing black dress holding lantern sits in rowboat with another woman on nightime lake

10 must-see Canadian movies at the Inside Out LGBTQ+ film festival

From thrillers to documentaries to short films, here are your best bets at this year’s fest 

Now in its 28th year, Toronto’s LGBTQ+ film festival, Inside Out, runs from May 24 to June 4. With 49 features and a wide selection of short films and panels, the festival will give LGBTQ+ movie buffs and their allies the chance to see queer stories—which are sorely ignored by mainstream studios—represented onscreen.

“Inside Out offers a safe space to experience, to talk, to protest and to be heard in context with watching films,” says director of programming Andrew Murphy. “Something magical unfolds every year at the festival, a celebration that offers an alternative pride, if you will.”

Here are 10 Canadian films we’re looking forward to.

closeup on musician Scott Jones as he looks up in forest

1 Love, Scott

In 2013, Scott Jones suffered a brutal stabbing outside a Nova Scotia bar and was left paralyzed from the waist down. While many suspected the attack was motivated by homophobia, police never labelled it a hate crime. In this touching feature-length documentary, filmmaker Laura Marie Wayne, a close friend of Jones’s, offers an intimate portrait of her subject as he rebuilds his life, wrestles with trauma and works to foster compassion and care in his small-town community.

2 For Nonna Anna

A trans girl takes on the task of caring for her Italian grandmother in this raw but quiet meditation on intersectional womanhood. The short film, part of a five-film program about family relationships, avoids a tired trope: Nonna doesn’t disapprove of her granddaughter. Instead, the pair’s bond grows over their shared vulnerability.

3 The Fruit Machine

After the Second World War, Cold War paranoia gripped the country. The Canadian government began investigating federal employees, hoping to identify which workers were vulnerable to Soviet blackmail. Homosexuality was quickly deemed a “character flaw,” and thousands of LGBTQ+ Canadians were subject to surveillance and interrogation at the hands of the RCMP.  In Sarah Fodey’s debut documentary, survivors reveal how the decades-long witch hunt cost them their privacy, their sense of safety and their careers.

4 Cherry Cola

When he’s unexpectedly dumped by his boyfriend of two years, Ryan and his drag sister head out for a debauched night on the town—with a side of self-reflection and revenge. Drag favourites Allysin Chaynes, Tynomi Banks and Sapphire Titha Reign star in this Tangerine-hued short, part of a seven-part program featuring hyper-local stories.

5 Bathroom Rules

In six short minutes this Canadian film takes on a long-contested topic—the “bathroom debate”—through the eyes of someone who’s affected by it most: a 10-year-old gender non-conforming child who moves through their school searching for a safe washroom to use. This powerful short is part of a 10-film program about LGBTQ+ youth.

woman wearing black dress holding lantern sits in rowboat with another woman on nightime lake

6 What Keeps You Alive

In this fresh, provocative and tension-packed thriller, two women, Jules and Jackie, head to a remote cabin to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. When a mysterious childhood friend appears, their idyllic getaway turns violent and the women find themselves pitted against each other to survive.

woman with short black hair wearing a green suit and tie with old man standing behind her

7 Octavio is Dead!

Directed and written by homegrown hero Sook-Yin Lee, this feature film has its world premiere at this year’s festival. Tyler (Sarah Gadon) is unsettled to learn that her father—a man she didn’t even know existed—has died and left everything to her. When she arrives at his apartment, she finds his ghost trapped inside it. As the pair form a supernatural bond, Tyler learns more about her own identity and desires.

8 The Things You Think I’m Thinking

Ten years after an accident leaves him with severe burns and an amputation, a gay man goes on a first date with a partner who’s not disabled. When the two head back to his apartment, he must stare down his trauma as he attempts to experience intimacy for the first time in a decade. This short is part of a six-part program on dating in 2018.

Man wearing only white underwear and black cap kneeling seen from behind in front of cameras

9 M/M

Matthew, a Montrealer, moves to Berlin, but finds himself lonely and isolated. Then he meets Matthias, a striking and charismatic young man who he quickly becomes enthralled with. Matthias is everything Matthew wants to be. And when a motorcycle crash leaves the object of his obsession in a coma, Matthew gets his chance.

composite photo of three Brazilian siblings with varying gender identities

10 3 Siblings

In a favela in Brazil, three siblings with three different gender identities and sexual orientations struggle to care for each other after their father abandons them. Part of a five-film program about LGBTQ+ people making a difference in the world, Sheena Rossiter’s documentary tells a story of resilience and love.