Although the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) wrapped up in August, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) can help tide queer cinema fans over until the VQFF's next edition.
As always, VIFF is offering an array of LGBT features and short films, as well as LGBT–interest selections.
This year's lineup includes special presentation of gay-conversion drama Boy Erased, with filmmaker Joel Edgerton in attendance, and literary biopic Colette.
Canadian offerings include Genesis, set in an all-boys school in Quebec; Giant Little Ones, marking a return to filmmaking by director Keith Behrman after 16 years since Flower and Garnet; and M/M, a queer arthouse thriller set in Germany.
This year's VIFF Tribute Award will be presented to Quebec filmmaker Jean-March Vallée (Wild) at a special screening of his 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club.
Here's a list of the feature films and LGBT-interest films in this year's VIFF lineup. For full screening details, visit the VIFF website.
BOY ERASED (USA)
“Fake it til you make it,” is the philosophy espoused at the gay conversion therapy centre where 19-year-old Jared (Lucas Hedges) is sent by his Baptist minister father (Russell Crowe) and god-fearing mom (Nicole Kidman). “You cannot be born a homosexual. It’s a choice,” they tell him. But the only choice Jared can see is whether he should live a lie or lose the love of his family. Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, this powerful, sensitive film is written and directed by Joel Edgerton (The Gift).
CARMEN AND LOLA (SPAIN)
Teenage Lola (Zaira Romero) is about to be married off to a man she doesn’t know in Madrid’s Roma community. But then she meets the brash and sexy Carmen (Rosy Rodríguez). Echevarría’s debut handles coming of age as a lesbian in a closed, conservative and decidedly patriarchal culture.
Keira Knightley gives the performance of her professional career in Wash Westmoreland’s sparkling look at the early life of Colette, the French writer and feminist icon who turned fin de siècle Paris upside down with her liberal life and work. Co-starring a perfectly cast Dominic West as Colette’s libertine first husband, the critic known as “Willy” who took credit for Colette’s first four novels.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (USA)
Director Jean-Marc Vallée will introduce this retrospective screening of his multiple Oscar-winning breakthrough drama. Playing a Texas homophobe who contracts HIV in the '80s, Matthew McConaughey is transfixing as a cadaverous cowboy who refuses to go down without a fight—or without making a quick buck peddling unauthorized meds.
At an all-boys conservatory in Quebec, Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin) teeters on the edge of first love, confronted by a yearning for his best friend Nicolas (Jules Roy Sicotte). His sister, the slightly older Charlotte (Noée Abita), is unnerved when her boyfriend (Pier-Luc Funk) asks to loosen the monogamous rules of their relationship. Powerful and provocative, Genesis inverts expectations and defies classification. It’s an ode to innocent love and a cruel examination of our fallen world.
GIANT LITTLE ONES (Canada)
After sharing an experience that permanently alters their long-standing friendship, Franky (Josh Wiggins) and his childhood pal Ballas (Darren Mann) engage in a protracted feud—one that serves as an outlet for their repressed feelings. Returning to feature filmmaking after a 16-year hiatus, Flower & Garnet (VIFF 2002) director Keith Behrman mounts an impressive comeback with this finely observed, and frequently poignant, study of identity and its boundaries.
THE HAPPY PRINCE (UK, Belgium, Italy, Germany)
Actor Rupert Everett writes, directs and stars in this honest, powerfully empathetic chronicle of legendary Irish writer Oscar Wilde’s last years, a desperate time in Paris when he assuaged his pain and loneliness with alcohol, drugs and a series of young men. Everett’s open, heartfelt film both honours his idol and conveys the essence of a man who maintained his ironic sense of humour until the end.
THE HEIRESSES (Paraguay, Germany, Uruguay, Brazil, Norway, France)
With her partner (Margarita Irún) imprisoned for fraud, Chela (Ana Brun) commits her own transgression to make ends meet. Starting an unlicensed taxi service for affluent women, Chela encounters Angy (Ana Ivanova), whose alluring candor and fiery bearing shake her from her stupor. Marcelo Martinessi crafts a stirring tale of empowerment, and Brun delivers an absolutely stunning performance punctuated by stolen glances and telling gestures.
A queer arthouse thriller, Drew Lint's M/M explores notions of identity and sexuality—and the confusion that can emerge between the two. Newly relocated from Canada, Matthew (Antoine Lahaie) is an outsider in Berlin, where he encounters the dark and mysterious Matthias (Nicolas Maxim Endlicher). Confident and overtly sexual, Matthias is a living fantasy who represents what Matthew desires to have—and what he wishes to be. As Matthew’s obsession grows, it threatens to consume both men.
SORRY ANGEL (France)
Set in 1993, Christophe Honoré’s superb drama centres on the relationship between playwright Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps) and his younger lover Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), but the film also includes a rich cross-section of deftly sketched secondary characters, making it a winning plunge into life, literature, cinema and philosophy
STUDIO 54 (USA)
Studio 54 was the pulsating epicentre of 1970s hedonism, a disco hothouse of celebrities, drugs and sex that earned the sobriquet “the greatest club of all time.” With co-founder Ian Schrager as his guide, director Matt Tyrnauer unearths fabulous archival footage; he also coaxes the 72-year-old Schrager into revealing the club’s history as it’s never been heard before.
Diamantino (Carloto Cotta), a Cristiano Ronaldo-like football star, is hoodwinked into participating in an anti–EU terrorist plot… And that is only the bare outline of this wildly entertaining first feature from Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt; it's a pastiche that scores satirical bull’s-eyes on everything from the vapidity of fame to Brexit to gender fluidity.
Ettore (played by seasoned actor Valerio Mastandrea) is unaware that he is suffering from an aggressive brain tumour. All of his medical check-ups pass through his younger brother Matteo (Riccardo Scamarcio), who is mysteriously capable of keeping the truth from the whole family, including Ettore. While the elder brother, who is increasingly aware that there must be something more serious behind his occasional stuttering and short-term memory loss, goes through a series of treatments, the younger sibling is on the slippery slope of drugs and alcohol. As a top earner loaded with cash, Matteo can indulge in whatever he wants, but is slowly coming undone.
IN MY ROOM (Israel)
Deeply intimate, unexpectedly moving and entirely of-the-moment, Ayelet Albenda’s documentary unfolds through footage culled from six teenagers’ self-produced YouTube videos. Make no mistake, these aren’t social media stars or influencers. They’re just average kids documenting their trials (including pregnancy and eating disorders) and trying to make some sense of it all. The remarkably honest moments they share quickly coalesce into an involving study of the myriad iterations of adolescence.
MARIA BY CALLAS (France)
A spellbinding amalgam of previously unseen photographs and performances, personal Super 8 films, private recordings, letters and behind-the-scenes archival footage, Tom Volf’s intimate portrait of the world’s most popular opera singer confines itself solely to the words and thoughts of the divine Maria Callas.
MODES 1 (various countries)
These works, which vary widely in form, subvert the dominant gaze and offer gestures of resistance that examine the mechanisms of power and disempowerment. They ask us to consider unexpected ways to see the world, our place in it and the value in authoring our own narratives.
UNITED SKATES (USA)
America’s roller rinks have long been strongholds of regional African-American culture. But gentrification—rink owners (usually white) selling to developers—is killing the scene. Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s charming documentary provides access to a world of style, slang, dance and music while profiling some of the skaters and owners who refuse to quit.