Friday August 12, 2016

8th Annual Toronto International Queer West Film Festival

queer west film festival theme august 12, 2016

Friday August 12, 2016 – 6 Shorts & Feature Film

Tonight’s Theme: Gender is a social construct

Restricted – No one under 18 admitted. ID Required.

Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue.  Street Map. Doors 6:30 pm Show 7 pm to  10 pm, 15 minute intermission each day.  The theatre is fully wheelchair accessible.

General Admission $10 each evening August 12, 13 and 14th. 3 day pass $25.

Film Introduction and Welcome Speech:  At 7: 15 PM  before curtain up at 7 PM.  There will be an Introduction (Elevator Speech) to all films screening tonight,   given by a Queer West Board Member. Q & A Time permitting. You will received a Program Guide as you enter the theatre.

Program Guide 2016

A simple eight page program guide, in an unusual style by graphic designer Jacob Aspler ( in Montreal Q.C VIEW IT HERE


Canadian Premier – Genderations – (Directors: Britt McClintock and Melissa Murray both from USA) 31 minutes

Film Synopsis Gender is a social construct, as where sex is what (“the parts”) you are born with. Because gender is how we identify it might not always match the sex we were assigned at birth. The gender binary is the classification of sex and gender into two very specific categories. It’s essentially a system put in place to make things “easier” for the general public. Dividing things by male and female The two filmmakers started interviewing people (mainly the youth) They soon realized that starting an important conversation about gender opens the door to so many other important and difficult topics.Basically, no one truly fits perfectly into one category. We are complex beings. And we need to recognize that the gender binary doesn’t truly represent all of us… Facebook Page

Photo by Boi Society, Inc
Photo by Boi Society, Inc

(L. to R) Biographies…..Melissa Murray is the founder of Small House Media. she graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism with a focus in Electronic Media. She grew up in San Diego, CA. She loves travel, good food and time spent with family and friends. She currently resides in Long Beach, CA. Britt McClintock grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania. She attended Sonoma State University where she earned her degree in Cultural Anthropology in 2009.  Between working with troubled youth in a wilderness therapy program in upstate New York to working on feature films in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Trailer – Genderations

Canadian Premier – Flying through our skins (Musical) Directed by – Matthew Boyle, Damon Andrew Embry & Bradley Beesley. 

photo still from film flying through our skimsThe film is produced by THE PLAY BABIES an Art / Film / Music Performance Collective from the Bourbon soaked valleys of Louisville, Kentucky, with the goal of blurring traditional lines drawn between sexuality, gender, race, history and spirituality.

Film Synopsis: An aural and visual representation of the journey to find one’s true self. It is about being proud of who you really are, and breaking through the traditional barriers placed on us by society. These are important themes, now more than ever… As we enter this era of exposure, equality and assimilation, it is crucial to explore our own personalities and eccentricities. Let that freak flag fly. Be yourself. Do what you love. Own it. The film features a plethora of LGBTQ performers, as well as people of all shapes, sizes, age and color. This is a true message of acceptance and equality… Inside and out.

Trailer – Flying through our Skins (Musical)

Canadian Premier – Dawn (Writer & Director Jake Graf, London England) 13:24 Minutes.

photo of british filmmaker jake graf shirtlessFilm Director,  Jake Graf  was born in London England, and attended the French Lycee Charles de Gaulle from 3-16, as his father was French. He spent a year in New York in his late twenties, but otherwise has always lived in London. That year however was life altering, as, having lived as a ‘lesbian’ for most of his late teens and early twenties,  he met his first trans friend, and realized that he could no longer hide his true gender identity, and shortly after returning to London, aged 28, began his  transition.  Jake now in his early 30’s  played Henri, a friend of art dealer Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts) in the 2015 award winning film The Danish Girl.  Jake is  starring in upcoming British web series Spectrum East,about the lives and loves of a group of mostly queer East Londoners (he plays one of the male leads) and he’s starting work on his first feature film, and continues to be an active advocate for the Trans community. This year alone, Graf has hit the covers of FTM, QX and LGBT Weekly—in all his shirtless glory. We screened Jake’s fourth film Chance last year, it has screened at 35 film festivals, winning numerous Best Short and Audience/Jury favourite awards

QWFF_2016_winner_jake_graf_o1Synopsis: As dawn creeps across London, two lost outcasts meet in the darkness, more afraid of themselves than each other. The sun begins to rise, and the veil of night is lifted, forcing the pair to look at themselves and face the harsh reality of life’s tribulations. And yet, in the promise of a new day, an unexpected revelation shows that it takes more than the eyes to see inside a soul. “Seeing audience reaction to Dawn so far has been truly humbling, and screening anywhere is a buzz, but I am absolutely over the moon.” Said Graf.

Trailer – Dawn

Canadian Premier – That’s My Boy;  a documentary by film director Akhil Sathyan from  Anthikad India English subtitles – 24:20 Minutes

Akhil_Sathyan_lgbt_filmmakerAkhil Sathyan – Leaving Wipro Technologies where he spent two years as a Project Engineer, Akhil made his desire a reality by joining film industry as a leading co-director. He has assisted six major feature films in Malayalam and more than 20 national advertisement films with leading celebrities and technicians in India. “That’s my boy, the documentary is my directorial debut. I hope it heals and inspires all suffering transgenders in the world.” Akhil said.

Synopsis: Sonu, the subject of Akhil Sathyan’s documentary, That’s My Boy was taught as a child to fear ‘Hijras’. A term used in South Asia – in particular, in India – to refer to Trans women (male-to-female transsexual or transgender individuals). Sonu, born a girl in Thiruvananthapuram 33 years ago, went to Mumbai in 2004, he found himself gradually opening up to these transwomen. “They respected my feelings, not my body,” he says. Over time, he realized their struggles were not that different from his — they too felt they were trapped in the wrong bodies. He enjoyed playing with boys his age, and was even part of the women’s cricket team. “I cropped my hair short, using cricket as an excuse,” he says. The film conveys transgenders’ struggle to lead a normal life against the social stigma attached to them and their fight to be respected for what they are. It is a pleasant and honest portrayal of a trans-mans life who is willing to share his experience so that he can make this world a better and an inclusive place for Transgender people.

Trailer – ‘That’s my boy’ English subtitles

Intermission – 15 minutes

Canadian Premier – Trade Queen by  David Wagner, a film student in Hamburg Germany 7.47 minutes

david wagner hamburg germany film studentDavid Wagner – Born in Vienna in 1982,  found his way into the film industry in his early 20s via photography and the passionate shooting of short films with his friends, in the summer of 2006 was studying film arts at New York University. This is advice NYU Professor Nick Tanis  give him ” Follow your heart. Let your imagination go wild. Have fun with your freedom.” Since 2008 he has worked on various commercials, music videos and short films as director and cinematographer. David is currently studying for  Master of Arts degree at Hamburg Media School. David also worked as personal assistant of the Academy Award winning Stefan Ruzowitzky, shot several documentaries abroad and finally made his decision to dedicate himself to directing.

Film Synopsis: a silent black and white film  about the relationship between two men as partners within their job as well as friends in private. Both bear secrets and the silence between them leaves room for interpretation. One of the many issues the film deals with is how people are labelled due to their work, appearance and gender. In the end, the audience has to face the two grey suited protagonists again, but now with a better understanding of their personalities. Those two salesman are deeper, more heroic and more caring then we would have thought when we first met them.

Trailer – Trade Queen a silent black and white film

Canadian Premier – The Owls by film director Natalia Bougadellis from Athens Greece. English Subtitles – 10:12 minutes

Natalia Bougadellis is a young Director and Cinematographer from Athens, Greece.

Natalia Bougadellis is a young Director and Cinematographer from Athens, Greece. She has studied Film and Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently based in New York City, yet her directorial debut is “The Owls,” a short film shot in her hometown, Athens. Natalia is invested in queer film narratives and to the promotion of gender equality in film, and she has received several distinctions and awards for her work. She has served as one of the Co-directors of Fusion Film Festival, a festival that promotes women in film and is part of the Sundance Initiative for Women. Natalia has also worked on numerous short films as a Director of Photography in Dublin, Athens, Abu Dhabi, and New York.

Film Synopsis: The story concerns a young man trying to survive in modern Greece. As the eldest son of the family and the only one who has a job, has assumed all the burdens and responsibilities. To cope he is forced into drag-queen  prostitution until the shop that he works out of suddenly goes out of business and he now has “carry on” at home. Then things get intense, and conflicts follow one another. A family drama that is the thumbnail of the Greek society, tough but realistic. Even though it came out right after ‘The Danish Girl’, ‘The Owls’ follows its own path dealing with something more common for the present day. The only thing we can reproach to Natalia Bougadellis is the length of the movie – this subject can be easily turned into a feature film because the story is something that concerns all of us. 

Trailer – The Owls (English subtitles)

Toronto Premier – Gender Troubles: The Butches by Lisa Plourde from Berkeley California. 54:02 Minutes

Lisa Plourde Berkeley, California filmmakerLisa Plourde – I felt a need to make this film because as a butch lesbian myself I have experienced so much isolation. I often felt that I was the only one like this. Growing up in a rural area I had no role models.  When I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when I was in my 20s after I college I discovered others similar to myself there. I was relieved. But 30 years later I still find that many of the myths and stereotypes about butches like us persist. We are still battling for our right to exist and to be ourselves. Insults, insinuated or shouted, still occur. I continue to find degrading caricatures of people like me. Realistic and positive images of butches are still lacking in the media. I took filmmaking classes one by one at night school at the local community college. I bought an assortment of used lights, a camera, and other used equipment on eBay and Craigslist. And with the help of my friends, we made this film to validate other butches, most whom we would never meet, and to let them know that we know what it is like. They aren’t the only ones. We have been there too and they are fine just the way they are. With this film I feel we are like the citizens of Dr. Seuss’s Whoville who all shout together “We are here! We are here! We are here!” so we can be heard and claim our space.

Film Synopsis – Contrary to popular myth, butch lesbians are not trying to be feminine and failing. They are not going through a rebellious stage. They are not imitating men or just toying with gender roles. Rather, butches identify as women and while being true to their most authentic selves, they look and behave in some ways that society has decided is appropriate only for men. This film is not about surface issues such as clothing or a butch aesthetic. It is about the dilemma of trying to be true to oneself and the challenge of not fitting in. The women in this film have all had to deal with judgment and rejection because they are obviously gay and unmistakably butch. The women portrayed in this film thoughtfully examine and challenge society’s assumptions about what it means to be masculine or feminine. Julie Bindel, a UK freelance journalist and political activist, and founder of Justice for Women wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian in 2015: Butch lesbians are paying a price for bending gender rules

Trailer – Gender Troubles: The Butches

Tonight’s Feature Film 54:02 Minutes

The end