Our pics for the queer and queer-interest films at this year's slight-different film festival
TIFF 2023 is upon us... we know what you're thinking? But how!? Isn't everyone on strike? Well, the short answer is , not everyone, and most importantly Canadian writers aren't on strike (yet eh hem...) Which means this year's fest will feature a whole lotta great Canadian content, lots of Docs and tons of films in general... just not so many big celebs to distract us.
This list has just some of the 2SLGBTQ+ films available at the festival that showcase the queer community in different genres, scopes and intensities. There is a strong queer Canadian presence in this list with some international gems in the mix. Get ready to laugh, cry and be pulled into these worlds of impactful storytelling.
(oh! and don't forget to check out STIFF, the only queer TIFF party, celebrating its 13th year this year. Advance tickets are sold out, but there will be limited tickets at the door on the big night.)
Backspot (Dir. D.W. Waterson, 2023, Canada)
September 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 9th
Toronto's own D.W. Waterson directed this one! Riley can’t afford to make that wrong move. The ferocious competitor and furious perfectionist finds herself under pressure when she and her girlfriend Amanda are both selected for an elite cheer squad. As the diamond-hard coach and her assistant put them through their paces, Riley’s anxiety escalates, and some old compulsive behaviour resurfaces. Something’s going to break… but whether it’s physical or emotional is anybody’s guess.
Close To You (Dir. Dominic Savage, 2023, Canada/UK)
September 5th, 6th, 9th
Sam hasn’t been home since his transition, and after four years in Toronto, he takes a long-dreaded trip back to Cobourg for his father’s birthday. On the train there, he runs into Katherine, a friend from high school with her own complicated life now, and feelings from their unresolved past begin to bubble to the surface. It’s a serendipitous encounter, as Sam worries about seeing his family after so much time apart — not for fear that they’ll reject him, but because of the unsolicited comments and questions he’ll receive about his transition, placing the weight of his family’s ignorance and discomfort squarely on his shoulders.
Frybread Face and Me (Dir. Billy Luther, 2023, USA)
It’s the start of summer, 1990, and all 11-year-old Benny can think about is seeing Fleetwood Mac in his hometown of San Diego. Obsessed with Stevie Nicks and his dolls (“action figures,” he reminds us), Benny’s dreams are derailed when his parents surprise him with the news they’re sending him to his grandma’s on the Navajo Nation.
I Don’t Know Who You Are (Dir. M.H. Murray, 2023, Canada)
After a sexual assault, Toronto musician Benjamin (Toronto's own Mark Clennon!!!) must pull together the money for HIV-preventive PEP treatment in the event that he’s been exposed to the virus — while also avoiding the man (Anthony Diaz) he's just started dating. Short of cash and determined to solve the problem himself, Benjamin spends a frantic weekend trying to raise the $900 he needs in the 72-hour window when PEP is most effective.
Orlando, My Political Biography (Dir. Paul B.Preciado, 2023, France)
Collaborating with an intergenerational group of trans and non-binary performers, the participants recite passages from the novel, share personal stories, and act out staged sequences, deftly situating the institutions of gender and sexuality alongside interrelated social, medical, and legal frameworks in order to confront and contort each. Smart, precise, deeply generous — and not least of all, fun! — Orlando, My Political Biography takes inspiration from the past while remaining adamantly grounded in the present and buoyed by commitments to a liberatory future.
Swan Song (Dr. Chelsea McMullan, Canada)
September 9, 11, 14th
"Chelsea McMullan’s intimate process documentary takes us inside the National Ballet of Canada’s 2022 production of Swan Lake, choreographed for the first time by the company’s artistic director Karen Kain, who famously debuted in the ballet in 1971." A look into the world of a living legendddd.
Thank You For Coming (Dir. Karan Boolani, 2023, India)
September 2nd, 10th, 11th
Smart, successful, and respected, Delhi food blogger Kanika Kapoor is what you might call a hapless romantic. A serial monogamist, she’s spent her entire adult life seeking a satisfying love match — both emotionally and physically. But no matter the partner, and no matter how enthusiastic the relationship, she’s never been able to have an orgasm… and it’s become so damaging to her self-image that she’s about to throw away her dreams of a fairy-tale romance and settle for a devoted but painfully dull suitor.
Lil' Nas X: Long Live Montero (Dir. Carlos López Estrada, Zac Manuel)
September 9. 10, 14, 16
A musical documentary following the wild ride that has been Lil' Nas X's ascent into superstardom. "He conquered the pop music world with his first hit. He trampled the border between country and hip hop. And he invited absolutely everybody along on his big, bright, queer celebration of life as an industry baby. He’s not yet 25."
Below is an additional from our friend Bill, who is a publicist for TIFF this year. He put together this extensive list of films that contain queer or Trans content, thanks Bill!
Strange Way of Life
The 2023 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 7th - 17th. Go to the TIFF website to get more information about tickets and screenings.