The Review/Video/Short Read/

TIFF Pride Collection: Queerly Canadian

See a collection of interviews, essays and videos celebrating the LGBTQ artists we love, locally and from around the world

Jun 23, 2017

It's Pride weekend! After your obligatory Babadook screening, why not catch up on a collection of material from the queer Canadian artists who paved the way for a whole new generation? In the essay, "Canadian Cinema Made Me Gay," writer Chris Dupuis memorializes films from Winter Kept Us Warm to Lillies that sparked his own coming of age. You can also catch up on a collection of videos and essays from TIFF's vault that reflect our queerly Canadian heritage.

Xavier Dolan may be the enfant terrible of Canadian cinema, but his films boast spellbinding cinematography and an eclectic taste in music. Chandler Levack reviews the auteur's '90s nostalgic soundtracks. You can also catch a video interview, recorded during the Q&A of Dolan's last film It's Only the End of the World.

In 1985, Toronto filmmaker Patricia Rozema, then 26, began working on her first feature film, I've Heard the Mermaids Singing. The film centered on a shy Toronto temp worker (charmingly played by Sheila McCarthy) who comes closer to understanding her own lesbian identity as she navigates her way through the city's modern art world. I've Heard the Mermaids Singing would go on to play the prestigious Director's Fortnight slot at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, winning the Prix de la Jeunesse, and receiving a six-minute standing ovation. This piece, featuring rare archival material from Rozema's personal collection, chronicles the making of the film and its landmark success for queer filmmakers. You can also hear Rozema in conversation with Yo, Adrian host and TIFF programmer Kiva Reardon on the depiction of masculinity and sexual assault in her feature, Into the Forest, selected for Canada's Top Ten Film Festival in 2016.

Last but not least, hear from three intriguing Canadian filmmakers on their gay inspirations. In an essay written for TIFF's retrospective on Pedro Almodóvar, the legendary Bruce La Bruce digs into the auteur's groundbreaking depiction of repressed sexuality, trans identity, and "unwaveringly queer" characters.

Winnipeg's Guy Maddin looks to the films made by Douglas Sirk and Rainer Werner Fassbinder for his inspiration, especially their colour palettes, claiming that he'd like to paint a room the colour of "Rock Hudson's nipple."

And Stephen Dunn explains how he got none other than Isabella Rossellini to voice the character of a talking hamster in his debut feature, Closet Monster, which won the "Best Canadian Feature" award at TIFF 15.

Here's five other must-reads, celebrating the international filmmakers, artists, and activists, who make us proud:

1. Everybody's Dazed Boyhood: Linklater and Gay Identity

Evan Dell'Aquila describes seeing himself in Richard Linklater's 2016 film Everybody Wants Some!!, writing "When you consider yourself an outsider, observing becomes second nature. In Everybody, Linklater’s gaze mirrored my own."

2. Distances, Hesistations, Intimacies

In an emotional and vividly-written piece for The Review, Vidal Wu applauds the intersectional truth and beauty of Barry Jenkins' Oscar-winning Moonlight, writing, "Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is about the intersection of Blackness, masculinity, and intimacy, but above all else, it's about queer Black men navigating other Black men, those who bear the most and least semblance to themselves."

3. Jill Soloway Conjures the Goddess

Showrunner Jill Soloway is toppling the patriarchy and conjuring the goddess everytime she says "action." In an intimate interview conducted during TIFF 16 when the new season of Transparent premiered in TIFF's Prime Time programme, she describes how finding her own personal truth in filmmaking brought a new form of trans identity to the screen.

4. Tangerine Allows Its Characters to Live

Julia Cooper describes how Sean Baker's landmark indie film Tangerine, famously shot on an iPhone, was also notable in a different way: "Transphobia lurks at the edges of Tangerine’s frame, but Baker never allows it to swallow up the narrative, or to detract from Sin-Dee’s hungry revenge. Put differently, Baker simply lets his women live. Together, their onscreen presence and survival nudges queer film toward a new cinematic reality." For further reading, hear from Tangerine star Mya Taylor, who tells the story of her life of film in an edition of TIFF's newsletter The Review.

5. The Watermelon Woman

Lydia Ogwang tells the story behind the Liberian-born filmmaker Cheryl Dunye's sexy, funny debut The Watermelon Woman, the first film ever made by a Black lesbian filmmaker.