Northern Ontario’s Queer North Film Festival is set to launch its fifth edition Aug. 19-22 in downtown Sudbury at Sudbury Indie Cinema.
The festival spans four days and will bring close to 40 queer films to the big screen with a live, in-person theatre experience. Seven of the screenings will be feature films, six enjoying their Northern Ontario premiere at Queer North.
No Ordinary Man: This Canadian documentary focuses on the life of jazz musician, Billy Tipton, who has been portrayed as an ambitious woman passing as a man to pursue a serious career as a musician. This film re-imagines that interpretation and Tipton’s contested legacy.
Tove: This Nordic production is the story of Tove Jansson’s artistic struggles and daring bisexual affairs in 1940s Finland. Tove is best known as the creator of Moomins.
Swan Song: Legendary actor Udo Kier stars as a retired hairdresser who escapes the confines of his small-town Ohio nursing home after learning of his former client’s dying wish for him to style her final hairdo.
Strike a Pose: In 1990, seven young male dancers joined Madonna on her controversial Blonde Ambition tour. Whatever happened to these men: 25 years later, we find out.
Deux/Two of Us: Two retired women, Nina and Madeleine, have been secretly in love for decades. An unforeseen event turns their relationship upside down and leads Madeleine’s daughter to gradually unravel the truth.
I Carry You With Me: This decades spanning romance begins in Mexico between an aspiring chef and a teacher Their lives restart in incredible ways as societal pressure propels them to embark on a treacherous journey to NYC with dreams, hopes, and memories in tow.
Born To Be: The emotional and physical journey of surgical transitioning after New York state passed the law that health insurance should cover transgender-related care and services.
All multi-award winners, the programme blends Canadian with International selections from drama, comedy, to documentary. Deux/Two of Us was France’s official submission to the Academy Awards last year. Strike a Pose hit the top audience fav list at Hot Docs. I Carry You with Me was a Sundance winner. Born to Be is ranked an unheard of 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
The festival has also announced three shorts programs.
Pierre Bonhomme is a Queer North Programmer. He explains: “The short film format is where up-and-coming filmmakers have the freedom to explore ideas, hone their skills and take risks. You never know what you’re going to get and that makes our shorts programming so much fun for audiences.”
The Shorts programmes kick off Saturday at 1 p.m. with a curated selection of videos shot by queer Ontario artists on a smartphone.
All pieces are under three minutes and related to the theme: “Bringing Sexy Back.” With titles like: “Hanky Code” and “Mathematics of a Lesbian Kiss” this collection of shorts aims to celebrate queer sexuality in all its dramatic, beautiful, and comedic glory.
The Best of Queer Shorts programme at 3 p.m. Saturday is playfully called The Male Gaze, which promises to allow an intimate views into the world’s of gay men: hot, tender, funny, dead-serious.
On Sunday at 1p.m., the Best of Queer Shorts 2 is called “Alphabet Soup” and these shorts encompass the top submissions of lesbian, non-binary, trans, drag themed submissions.
It also encompasses some more general themed doc style shorts including: one on the Canadian queer right organization, EGALE; an LGBT affirming Mosque in Toronto; and local submission Amplify, exploring racial justice/injustice and being Black and queer in Sudbury.
Most of these selections come to the Festival through an open call for submissions. Alex Tétreault, one of the reviewers, is excited by what will be screened this weekend: “These are bite-sized morsels of queer life! These submissions from around the world tackle audacious shorts tackling love, heartbreak, and everything in between.”
The Shorts programme this year features films from Australia, Iran, the UK, Brazil, Germany, as well as the US and Canada. The global reach may have been broader, concedes Festival Director and founder Beth Mairs, but the “push-me/pull-ya” nature of COVID and forced cinema closures over the last year and a half made the exact festival dates shift by 14 months.
“We are thrilled by the opportunity to run Queer North at the Indie and host a community festival experience,” said Mairs. “With Sudbury Pride going virtual in 2020 and 2021, with so many queer-friendly businesses like Zig’s negatively impacted by the pandemic, it’s been a very long time since this kind of in-person queer cultural gathering in town. Actually… not just in Sudbury, but across the province.”