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Still from Alice Junior by Gil Baroni. Photo: Inside Out Film Festival.

Inside Out LGBTQ Film Festival: Interview with Andrew Murphy, Director of Programming

By Sanita Fejzić on September 30, 2020




The 2020 edition of the Inside Out Film Festival will take place entirely online, from October 1–11. Apt613 spoke with Andrew Murphy, Director of Programming for the 2020 Festival, to get an idea of what viewers can expect this year.

Andrew Murphy, Director of Programming for the Inside Out Film Festival. Photo courtesy Andrew Murphy.

Apt613: What films are you excited about the most?

Well, it has been quite a journey to get us here! Our 30th anniversary was set to take place in Toronto back in May, then of course we’d be proudly speaking of our Ottawa-specific edition now. However, the universe had different plans for all of us. We were fortunate to only have to postpone our Toronto event and not have to cancel, and by moving the festival online due to COVID, we are able to provide a wonderful cross-section of feature films, documentaries, and shorts programs via our Cinesend platform Ontario-wide, effectively combining our Toronto and Ottawa events, with an accessibility much vaster than previous years.

Some standouts for me include Anna Kerrigan’s Cowboys, about a father (brilliantly played by Steve Zahn) who takes his trans son away from his mother and hikes from Montana to the Canadian border to ensure his son Joe can live an authentic life. It was set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival back in April, but couldn’t take place.

Incredibly inspiring is the documentary Unapologetic directed by Ashley O’Shay. It’s a real call-to-action film that shines a light on an organization fighting for racial injustices against Black women in the USA.

Milkwater is what I hope becomes the festival’s sleeper hit, starring the hilarious Molly Bernard (Younger) who, after a few drinks, offers to become the surrogate for a gay bar owner struggling to have a child of his own.

Petite fille (Little Girl) is a “year in the life” documentary I saw at the Berlin Film Festival that broke my heart and gave me so much hope for the world. It follows a French family whose child, Sasha, knows that inside she is a girl and always has been. Her journey, and the care and dedication her parents take to ensure she has the best possible childhood, is required viewing.

Apt613: What’s new that wasn’t there before, if anything?

As a queer film festival, we’re constantly in touch with filmmakers, distributors, and festival alumni to research what’s coming in, what people are working on, alongside what we receive as unsolicited submissions for consideration. Through casting that wide net, we do our best to ensure that our program features a wide range of films that offer escape, that offer thoughtfulness and key learnings about our communities, as well as calls to action and that accurately reflect the communities we strive to represent.

Our queer communities are comprised of so many diverse folks from diverse backgrounds. It’s so inspiring to be in this privileged position to preview and curate something to share with everyone. For example, we’ll be doing a timed online screening of The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, a crucial dramatic film about an African-American teen stuck in a Groundhog Day nightmare, waking up to experience the same day over and over again, which is the day he dies at the hands of L.A. police officers. This screening will be followed by a live Q&A discussion with the filmmakers.

When we’re watching content and putting together the festival, there are often perennial underlying themes of human rights, coming of age, and above all things, love.

Apt613: What are some major themes (political, aesthetic, etc) running across your film selection this year?

I feel year to year, when we’re watching content and putting together the festival, there are often perennial underlying themes of human rights, coming of age, and above all things, love.

These tend to take different forms as we see parts of the world progress, others regress, and others somewhere in the middle. And through these struggles and inequalities, art is created. Given current homophobic and racist governments that exists in parts of the world like Brazil, it’s important we support and push up on queer work from these places. Your Mother’s Comfort and Alice Junior are key films everyone should check out this year.

Apt613: Since the festival is taking place online and opens at a drive-in cinema (The Drive In Experience at Wesley Clover Parks), there will be immediate social distancing and precautions related to COVID-19. Give us the backstory about how you came up with the idea of moving it online and opening at an outdoor drive-in theatre?

With Inside Out having to make the move online, it’s enabled us to offer a full festival program over the 11 days across Ontario, which is unprecedented. This is really exciting for us, as we’ve never been able to offer a program or festival of this size to Ottawa specifically. In addition to that program, after our ongoing conversations with government officials and health authorities, we saw the exciting potential in hosting a drive-in. We are doing two at Ontario Place in Toronto, and one in Ottawa at The Drive In Experience. They had the space available over our opening weekend, so we went for it and can’t wait to share the doc Ahead of the Curve there.

Apt613: How are tickets selling considering the change of venue?

Tickets are moving nicely! Our drive-ins in Toronto sold out the first on-sale day and Ottawa is coming along nicely. Please do check out the program online for more info.

Apt613: What are some other projects or endeavours Inside Out wants to share with us?

We are really proud that 30 years on, we are in a position to continue to champion queer filmmakers and their work and, more than ever, provide opportunities for artists. We are a partner festival for the Telefilm Talent to Watch program, where we nominate a feature project to be funded for their micro budget film. We host the world’s only LGBTQ+ Finance Forum where we connect creators with financiers to pitch their projects. We also have a wonder granting program, Re:focus, that offers small grants to women, trans and non-binary filmmakers.

This year’s Inside Out Film Festival opens on Thursday, October 1 and rolls out online until Sunday, October 11. The lineup is exciting, diverse, and includes different genres, from long features to shorts and documentaries. Check out the schedule and get your tickets now. Film reviews will follow later this week, so stay tuned.