The Inside Out LGBT Film Festival is back in town from Friday, November 9 to Monday, November 12, 2018 at the National Gallery of Canada. The International Shorts will run for 75 minutes on Saturday, November 10, starting at 2:45pm, while the Canadian Shorts will be showcased the following day, on Sunday, November 11, also at 2:45pm.
A short film is akin to a tapas dinner. Instead of digesting a long-feature, you are privy to a handful of shorts, running from 7 to 23 minutes at this year’s festival. Variety and brevity combined are a rare delight. Not only do you get to see a multiplicity of aesthetics and stories but you get to see them side by side, giving you an idea of what is coming out of, and matters most to, emerging LGBTQ filmmakers in Canada and the U.S. right now.
Simply put, a short film is shorter than a long feature—it’s like the Twitter of the big screen.
A friend and long-time fan of the Inside Out festival once suggested that short films were for a particular kind of audience, one that has to cultivate some kind of experimental or high art taste in order to enjoy the form. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply put, a short film is shorter than a long feature—it’s like the Twitter of the big screen. A short can be experimental, with a high art aesthetic or it can be delivered in a more traditional format, showing us a brief narrative, a moment of epiphany on screen. So please don’t let the form prevent you from coming out and enjoying a marvellous line up of great films, however short or long they may be.
“The Things You Think I’m Thinking,” for example, a 14 minute short film by Canada’s Sherren Lee, encapsulates the tensions of a first date encounter. First dates can be nerve wracking for anyone but especially for a man whose hands have been amputated in an accident that left him with severe burn scars. As we watch him charm and bring him home a handsome young fella, we wonder what’s going to happen next. Because “The Things You Think I’m Thinking” isn’t only about what goes on in the minds of potential lovers—it’s a title that speaks back to the audiences whose gaze might reflect internalized monologues about disability and physical trauma.
Canada’s Milena Salazar and Joella Cabalu’s 7 minute documentary “Do I Have Boobs Now?” is also dwells on the relationship between body and gaze. This is a provocative short that questions gender norms and the male gaze on social media platforms like Instagram. Documenting her transition from man to woman online, trans-activist Courtney Demone challenges the social media website around its nipple/nudity policies. Yet at what point does she physically become woman, she asks, since many of her bare-chested photos are pre-operation? Transitioning to a woman means learning how to live in a world that sexualizes and objectifies women’s bodies. A world in which, suddenly, it’s no longer safe to walk home alone at night, especially if you’re a trans woman.
Meanwhile, the International Shorts—which might as well have been titled United States Short Films since all of them are from the U.S.—compels us with a lyrical 15 narrative by Lisa Donato, “There You Are.” Very few lines of dialogue in this narrative about a trans woman who is mysteriously called upon her mother to come home. We know “it’s time” because that’s what her mom’s text says, but time for what? No need for words as the scenes speak for themselves, showing us the power of acceptance, love and loss with poetry, simplicity and grace.
What struck me about these three shorts is their interest in post-coming out narratives. No longer are we seeing the shock and joy of claiming our sexual preferences on the screen. Rather, we’ve moved onto other questions and concerns, and I hope you’ll come out to see what talented emerging film makers are creating in these American and Canadian bundles of shorts. Once the festival leaves town, the opportunity to see these films will leave with it so please mark your calendars and come out!
The Inside Out Festival takes place November 9-12, with screenings at the National Gallery of Canada and other events around town. For all of Apt613’s coverage of the Inside Out festival, visit our Festival page here. Visit the Inside Out webpage for full schedule, trailers, and tickets.