In terms of cinematic art in Toronto, it is September that gets all the glory. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) bursts into town with its red carpets and fills up an entire calendar year worth of spotlight. No offense to TIFF, but that’s just not right. Toronto has a number of wonderful specialty film festivals throughout the year. The month of May is particularly noteworthy, boasting both HotDocs and Inside Out: Toronto’s LGBT Film and Video Festival.
Inside Out supports and exhibits films made by and about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. It is currently in its 21st year of operation, and at more than 200 unique films, it is the largest festival of its kind in Canada. Because there are still so few films that depict LGBT people from the perspective of LGBT filmmakers, this festival has very successfully established a niche for itself. Today, it draws crowds from across the GTA and surrounding areas.
The films’ subjects — beyond the common topic of LGBT experiences — are diverse. This year’s lineup includes a documentary on fashion giant Yves Saint Laurent (L’Amour Fou_), a collection of shorts about trans people (Transplanetarium_), and a look at the irrepressible blossoming of love between two older women (80 Days). While some of the films are home-grown Canadian, others come from Spain, Britain, Mexico, Singapore, Italy, the USA, China, and a slew of other nations.
The Inside Out Festival has implemented an admirable system for supporting young LGBT aspiring filmmakers. The Queer Video Mentorship Program partners up young artists with experienced filmmakers. The mentors guide the youths through the entire process of creating a short film, from constructing storyboards to shooting to editing. The collection of finished products are screened together at the Inside Out Festival.
The 2011 Inside Out Festival runs from May 19 to 29, and screens at a number of Toronto theatres (including the lovely Bell Lightbox). Ticket purchase information can be found at the official site.