13 queer documentaries to check out at the festival that we shall not name

April 22, 2024

Justin Gray


Supporting some truly queer documentaries through this year's troubled festival

HotDocs Festival is back. Running from April 25th - May 5th, this international festival always brings in the best of the best of documentary filmmaking from all over the world. Every year we scour the line-up of projects and select a few queer projects to highlight that catch our attention. That being said, so many of the films screening are amazing and should also be checked-out. So make sure to look at their list and see what tickles your fancy. We also encourage you to follow the filmmakers and their films on social media to stay up to date with where the projects end up so you can watch them over and over again after the festival circuit. 

As much as art is opened to criticism, so shall be the organizations that showcase it. 

HotDocs, as a company, has been underfire the past year, and longer depending on who you speak with, regarding their misspending, the mismanagement, and the emboldened executive greed under their moniker. Just a quick google search will show how the new exec’s turned this festival’s offices into a Grey Gardens of employee retention and satisfaction.

*Link: https://twitter.com/cj_prin/status/1772405220858806768

Now I don’t want to be a Judy Moody and let the poor actions of others overshadow the brilliance of the creators, but much like documentary films, it’s important to point out the realities of situations and challenge the controlling parties to face the harsh truths of their actions.

So make sure you celebrate the creators of these fab projects and show them all the love!.. And don't forget to check out the annual HOT COCKS party Friday, April 26.

Drawing a Line

Director: Sama Pana
Country: Belgium, Luxembourg
Category: Art Of Resistance
Language: English, Full Subtitles
Runtime: 73 Mins

‘Rachita Taneja, a political cartoonist working under the nom de plume Sanitary Panels, is the creator of a popular Indian stick-figure cartoon and webcomic that challenges stereotypes and taboos around menstruation, mental health and LGBTQIA+ rights. Taking her inspiration from news headlines, Taneja is known for pointed socio-political commentary and attracts an immense following of young, liberal Indians. But as critical journalists, and now cartoonists, face criminal charges under the Indian government’s new laws regulating fake news (i.e., real criticism), Taneja faces a charge of “diminishing the authority of the (Supreme) Court” in India. She cannot share or discuss the three cartoons involved in the lawsuit, but the rest of her comics come to life on-screen to promote her queer-positive, pro-democracy, anti-Modi and pro-gender-equality views. An impressive show of free speech using simple stick figures and a mere four panels provides a master class in fighting against censorship with bravery and creativity.’

Any Other Way: The Jackie Shane Story

Director: Michael Mabbott, Lucah Rosenberg-Lee
Country: Canada
Category: Canadian Spectrum Competition

Language: English, Partial Subtitles, Closed Captions
Runtime: 99 Mins

‘Once you’ve heard Jackie Shane sing, you’ll never forget it. Yet, after shattering barriers as one of pop music’s first Black trans performers, this trail-blazing icon vanished from the spotlight at the height of her fame. From modest beginnings in Nashville, Shane soon recognized her talents and, in her late teens, made her way to Boston and Montreal, working the nightclub circuit while taking the stage with Frank Motley, a musician known for playing two trumpets at once. Her arrival in Toronto during its 1960s music explosion made her a highly sought-after headlining act who seemed destined to take her place among the R&B stars of the era. Blending her music with never-released phone conversations and soulful animated re-enactments, Any Other Way:?The Jackie Shane Story brings Shane back to life in her own words, finally providing the recognition she so rightly deserves and introducing her to a generation fighting for their right to be their true selves.’

Am I the Skinniest Person You’ve Ever Seen?

Director: Eisha Marjara
Country: Canada
Category: Shorts

Language: English
Runtime: 22 Mins

‘A filmmaker revisits her childhood pact with her sister and her struggle with anorexia as a Punjabi Canadian kid growing up in a small town in Quebec. Through a feminist diasporic lens, she explores eating disorders, identity and the quest for belonging beyond body image in this intimate love letter to childhood.’

Big Moves
Director: Sarah Grant
Country: UK
Category: Shorts

Language: English, Full Subtitles
Runtime: 14 Mins

‘A lifetime of being told that she, as a fat person, can’t dance—and believing it—leads Glaswegian filmmaker Sarah Grant to re-enact iconic dance sequences from Friends, Pulp Fiction, Dirty Dancing and Britney Spears’s music videos, and expose the big fat lies that exclude bigger bodies from the dancefloor, as well as the cultural obsession with perfection and the deception that goes with it.’

Black Box Diaries

Director: Shiori Ito
Country: Japan, UK, USA
Category: Special Presentations 

Language: Japanese, English, Partial Subtitles
Runtime: 104 Mins

‘When Shiori Ito, at the time a young woman and aspiring journalist, accepted an invitation for a drink with famed reporter Noriyuki Yamaguchi, she was lured into a trap: after she was intoxicated, Ito was taken against her will to his hotel room. Ito’s allegations of ensuing rape were dismissed by Japan’s justice system because of archaic laws that remain on the books. But Ito goes public with her allegations and sets up a court case in a demand for justice, setting up a riveting emotional rollercoaster-ride as she takes her fight to the heart of the patriarchy. Deftly crafted employing personal archival material (and a great soundtrack), Black Box Diaries sees Ito pushing herself to the extreme, tackling public criticism and threats, and navigating deep cultural prejudice against women. If she wins, it will be worth it all.’


Director: Kristiina Karsten, Otso Reunanen, Silja Salmi
Country: Finland
Category: Shorts

Language: Finnish, Full Subtitles
Runtime: 15 Mins

‘Finnish middle-aged priest Late Mäntylä has realized that having a beard allows them to more authentically reflect their inner self through their outward appearance. Makeup artist Kata Launonen has offered to show Late how to create one. An afternoon spent in the beauty salon represents the culmination of Mäntylä’s life-long journey of becoming themselves.’

Cyborg Generation

Director: Miguel Vega
Country: Spain
Category: Emergence

Language: Catalan, Spanish, English, Full Subtitles
Runtime: 63 Mins

‘After a meeting with the world’s first cyborg artists Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas, Kai Landre, a young Spanish musician, is inspired to attempt what many would consider unthinkable: he takes up the chance to have a cybernetic organ implanted into his body. Is this illegal? Yes. But, if successful, the implant promises to allow an extra sense—the ability to perceive sounds coming from outer space—and a new vein of musical inspiration. Through MRI scans and the concern of his friends and family, Landre navigates the science and emotions as the procedure develops. Cyborg Generation illustrates the possibility of a kind of Life 3.0, as the desire to extend beyond the traditional idea of the self becomes too alluring to resist. A space to call one’s own, where creativity and personal freedom flourish, is a state of being that sits at the heart of this subversive and fascinating journey of self-discovery.’

Disco’s Revenge

Director: Omar Majeed, Peter Mishara
Country: Canada
Category: Pop/Life

Language: English, Closed Captions
Runtime: 100 Mins 

‘Born underground on the heels of the civil rights movement and the Stonewall uprising, disco emerged as an exuberant musical genre, radical social movement and vibrant counterculture—before it was co-opted, exploited and violently stamped out.
In our collective pop-culture imagination disco has become a fad relegated to soft-focus memories of Saturday Night Fever and Studio 54. But it’s time to set the record straight: Disco. Never. Died.
Disco’s Revenge is a pulsating, experiential deep dive into the very soul of disco music and its enduring impact across genres and history, told by the people who created it, nurtured it, and in turn, discovered themselves on the dance floor. It isn’t just about why disco matters—but why, in these divisive times, disco matters more than ever.
Featuring interviews and performances by Nile Rodgers and Chic, Billy Porter, Nona Hendryx and LaBelle, Grandmaster Flash, Fab Five Freddy, Nicky Siano, Earl Young and The Trammps, Jellybean Benitez, Kevin Saunderson, Sylvester and Martha Wash and many others.’

Fragments of a Life Loved

Director: Chloé Barreau
Country: Italy
Category: International Competition

Language: French, Italian, Full Subtitles
Runtime: 95 Mins

‘Since the age of 16, director Chloé Barreau has filmed her lovers. Living between Paris and Rome, she has snapped photos and made videos of every man and woman she loved. From teenage crushes to long-distance commitments, one-night stands and deep devotions, her cameras captured each affair, suspending that version of each pair forever together on screen. But every relationship has two points of view, so Barreau embarks on a remarkable method of autobiography to tell the full story of herself: she arranges for each of her exes to be interviewed on camera by a neutral co-author, so they can freely describe their versions of her, the woman they loved. Layering these present-day conversations with her rich archives of the same relationship, Barreau constructs an engrossing and thoroughly original history of her heart.’

Teaches of Peaches

Director: Philipp Fussenegger, Judy Landkammer
Country: Germany
Category: Pop/Life

Language: English, German, Partial Subtitles
Runtime: 102 Mins

‘Filmed during the Teaches of Peaches Anniversary Tour in 2022, Teaches of Peaches seamlessly weaves together exclusive archival gems with dynamic tour footage capturing the transformative journey of Toronto’s own Merrill Nisker to become the internationally acclaimed cultural powerhouse that is Peaches. From the inception of the stage show to the rigorous rehearsals and riveting performances, this intimate look shows an icon in her prime. Nisker takes this anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on her past—from her musical beginnings creating songs for kids in daycare to her favourite stage costumes—all set to her fearless, sexually charged electro ear worms. Through biting wit and brash talent, she advocates for body autonomy and LGBTQIA+ rights, leaving an indelible mark on popular culture. The feminism and art of Peaches will forever challenge gender stereotypes, social norms and the patriarchy until the world can finally “take it on, take it all on.”


Director: Yance Ford
Country: USA

Category: Special Presentations

Language: English, Closed Captions, Open Captions
Runtime: 87 Mins

‘Academy Award–nominated director Yance Ford returns with a deeply researched and moving investigation into US police forces. Flowing between the past and the ever-charged present, Ford draws distinct lines from the colonial roots of the police — highlighting the institution’s origins, which embraced violence to maintain social control through slave patrols and the displacement of Indigenous peoples — to the streams of bodycam and cellphone footage we see today, which have marked social movements like Black Lives Matter. Rather than preventing crime, it seems that creating and controlling a social hierarchy is the guiding principle of the nation’s policing. Interviews with community advocates and police officers contrast personal experiences with the structural realities that shape our collective understanding of the “overseer.” Driven to contain perceived threats to the social order, policing in the United States has exploded in both scope and scale over hundreds of years. Now, it can be described in one word: Power.’

Hot Docs Film Festival runs April 25th to May 5th 2024, and you can check out ALLLLL the details here.

Lead image taken from Peaches Facebook page.