Friday, September 11th, 2020

Queer Cinema at its very best : Toronto International Film Fest


Right at the tail end of a very  busy round of Virtual Queer Film Festivals this summer comes the mainstream Toronto International Film Fest an important milestone in the moviemakers  annual calendar.

One of the best things about TIFF is that its eclectic program mixes the best of the new blockbusters with some superb indie films  at the same time.  With COVID shutting down both the Cannes Film Festival and Telluride earlier this years,  there is more pressure then ever on TIFF to deliver.

As far as LGBTQ audiences are concerned they really have raised the bar with seven exceptionally new  queer films.

Queerguru has already written about Francis Lee (God’s Own Country ) sophomore movie starring eo Academy Award winning actresses. (http://c3f.ab6.myftpupload.com/first-look-gods-own-countrys-frances-lee-new-queer-romance-ammoniite/)   Plus there will be French queer auteur Francois Ozon’s newest film, and the Oscar-winning writers of Brokeback Mountain are back with Good Joe Bell, and also both Halle Berry and Viggo Mortensen have made queer films for their directorial debuts.

GOOD JOE BELL is the true story of a father’s walk across the US to raise awareness about the harms of bullying. Starring Mark Wahlberg it tells the story of a father learning to tell the whole world the true value of his son, even when it seemed too late. Screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (Brokeback Mountain) shift between Joe’s cross-country odyssey and earlier scenes at home in Oregon. There, Jadin (Reid Miller) suffers brutal homophobia at school and visible embarrassment at home from his father. He sees no other way out but suicide.  Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green  (Monsters and Men) 


With BRUISED Academy Award winner Halle Berry makes her directorial debut while starring as a washed-up MMA fighter struggling for redemption as both an athlete and a mother. Jackie “Justice” (Berry) has been working multiple jobs and barely scraping by ever since losing an important match years ago. When her boyfriend, Desi (Adan Canto), manages to trick her into going to an underground fight, her passion for the sport is reignited. As Jackie prepares to go back to “the only thing she is good at,” the son she once abandoned is dropped off at her doorstep.

Jackie will now have to fight to reclaim the two most meaningful things she has walked away from: six-year-old Manny and an MMA title.


No Ordinary Man is a Canadian documentary film, directed by Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt and written by Chin-Yee and Amos Mac. The film is a portrait of Billy Tipton, the influential jazz musician who gained fame throughout the United States in the 1940s and ’50s.  His trans identity was not known throughout the echelons of the jazz and pop worlds, and it wasn’t revealed publicly until after his death in 1989. For decades, Tipton was portrayed as an ambitious woman “passing” as a man in pursuit of a music career at a time when the industry was dominated by men and trans representation was virtually non-existent. Since then, he has become a foundational icon of transmasculinity.

FALLING:   Viggo Mortensen wrote, directed, and co-stars as a gay man on a patience-testing mission to care for his ailing, solitary, and homophobic father (Lance Henriksen).

John was born into the storm of his father’s rage. His father, Willis, resents everything about his child’s presence, and what he sees as the trap of family life. Early on, the film shifts between scenes of John as a boy, forced by Willis into regular tests of masculinity, and John as an adult (Mortensen), living happily as a gay man. But when Willis (Henriksen), now in the grip of dementia, descends back into John’s life, his usual vitriol and rancid homophobia flow unchecked. As a son still bound by duty, John must care for the man who hurts him the most.


With his sumptuous Summer of 85, François Ozon mixes camp, queerness, and thriller elements into a sun-drenched romance-turned-tragedy set on the coast of Normandy. Told in flashbacks and metafiction, the film perfectly captures the era in which it takes place, using subdued 16mm film and precise 1980s fashion.

Unlike many queer coming-of-age love stories, Summer of 85 doesn’t dwell on its young characters’ coming out. They are not plagued by sexual repression, which frees the film up to fully portray their desire and youthful sexuality. It also brings to light other, more esoteric elements of infatuation and devotion, questioning whether it is, ultimately, we ourselves who project onto others the personas that we fall in love with.



Emma Seligman’sSHIVA BABY  has already played a few queer film festivals this summer and won a Grand Jury Award at Outfest . This is her feature film debut and it focuses on twentysomething Danielle (Rachel Sennott), a perennial student who’s been lying to her supportive but overbearing parents about her faltering academic career.

Then again, she has a lot of secrets she’s keeping, including her relationship with an older man, Max (Danny Deferrari), and her embittered ex Maya (Molly Gordon from Booksmart).  Shiva Baby is a caustically affectionate comedy about tightly knit families and communities, and the comfort and anguish they’re often responsible for.



The 45th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, taking place September 10–19, is tailored to fit the moment, with physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences, and industry talks. This year’s selection comprises a lineup of 50 new feature films, five programmes of short films, as well as interactive talks, film cast reunions, and Q&As with cast and filmmakers.

Posted by queerguru  at  13:51


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