I’ve been covering the Inside Out LGBTQ+ Film Festival for Apt613 since 2014 and this year marks the best in terms of attendance, quality of events and featured films in all genres, including long features, foreign films, shorts and documentaries.
This was also the first year that seemed to resonate most profoundly with locals. Andria Wilson, Executive Director, and Andrew Murphy, Director of Programming, brought us The Fruit Machine, a documentary by Sarah Fodey featuring numerous local civil servants and military men and women who lost their jobs because they were identified as a national security threat to Canada after WWII. During the cold war era, homosexuals were considered to be susceptible to blackmail by the Soviet Union and were hunted down by the RCMP. This tear-jerker, which moved much of the audience to tears, was followed by an incredible talk with an engaged audience; I welcome this kind of content and format at next year’s festival.
Speaking of loving and supporting local artists, a number of Ottawa-made shorts opened for feature films, including “EGALE and the Battle for Equal Marriage,” “The Lesbian and Feminist Movements,” and “HIV/AIDS in Ottawa,” all three produced for the Village Legacy Project by Xtra. I appreciated these little bites of local history and hope the festival will continue to open feature films with shorts that audiences might enjoy and that are thematically relevant to us.
If this year’s festival hit close to home, it also reached far beyond our Canadian shores, all the way to South Africa with Canady (Kanarie), Kenya with Rafiki, and France with Sorry Angel (Plaire, aimer et courir vite) and Wild (Sauvage). I was especially happy with the variety of themes addressed this year, with what seems like a balance between lesbian and gay films, and much more trans inclusivity. Canadian director Luis De Filippis’s “For Nonna Anna” and American director Kisa Donato’s “There You Are” are two uplifting short films about trans women and their families.
The coup-de-coeur this year, however, goes to Man Made, a documentary about trans man in the U.S. by director T Cooper. This intimate portrait of trans men who train for and participate in Trans Fit Con, a transgender body building competition, slowly exposes the backgrounds, experiences and context of four trans men—Rese, Dominic, Kennie and Mason—as they sculpt their bodies and prepare to be seen by their loved ones and the world for who they really are. An emotional journey into the complexities of gender as it collides with body, class, mental health, family and law.
The organizers’ efforts to make this a more accessible festival did not go unnoticed.
Speaking of gender, I noticed this year’s festival included gender neutral bathrooms, which I don’t recall seeing last year—it could be that they were there, but I certainly was not aware of them. The organizers’ efforts to make this a more accessible festival, by giving out free tickets to certain groups, for example, in addition to being wheelchair accessible, did not go unnoticed. As a bilingual person who speaks French and English at home, I am especially grateful for the efforts that went into making this year’s festival more French. A number of the welcoming addresses were spoken in la langue de Molière, however awkwardly, which my friends and I liked. In addition, both languages were projected on the screen, acknowledging the National Gallery of Canada and Ottawa as Algonquin territory. Wouldn’t it be cool if were also written in Algonquin/ Ojibwe? Even cooler: maybe next year, we’ll have the opportunity to see an Indigenous/Métis two-spirited narrative on the big screen, right here on Algonquin territory. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what’s lined up for 2019. Can’t wait.
For all of Apt613’s coverage of the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, visit our festival page.