Toronto
7 min

Check these flicks out

The very best of Inside Out

AAH! Beware the killer condom..... Credit: Xtra files

There’s really too much stuff to see at this year’s Inside Out. “Where to start?” you scream. Well here, actually, with David Collins’s festival sampler.





TAKE A BITE OUT OF CRIME

Get ready to catch Killer Condom before it becomes the next cult classic on the all-night gore fest circuit.



This dark little gem (shown at 11:30pm on Fri, May 21 as part of the new Late Night Queerness screenings) has all the ingredients: a campy sense of humour, self-serious introspective voice-over, low-level sleazy sex scenes and, of course, the star of our show – a battalion of animated rubbers with a taste for the carnivorous.



In a mutated version of New York City, where everyone looks American but speaks German, our queer gumshoe detective, Luigi, is stuck on revenge after he, himself, loses a testicle to the saw-toothed little demons.



In the seedy Hotel Quickie, these evil house condoms seem to be multiplying. By the mid-point of the movie, the death count is 13, and the real bloodletting has only just begun. This is a dangerous place to have an erection. Even if you choose not to use the complimentary prophylactics, they may still stalk you and jump you when you’re not looking. Beware.



No real insights here – just enough hilarious gross-outs to compete with Divine’s best.



Speaking of Divine, another late-night treat to check out is Divine Trash (11:30pm on Fri, May 28), a no-show from last year’s fest. It’s a documentary look at the biggest, fattest gross-out queen herself – in the heyday of her best John Waters’ films.





SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH

Ah youth, sweet youth. It seems that queer filmmakers have exhausted the usual cast of characters – the AIDS victim and the flamboyant drag queen – and have returned to that “old” stalwart – emotionally vulnerable youth on the cusp of sexual experience, fresh out of the closet.



Three films at this year’s festival excel at handling this subject matter. Sure they can be a little earnest and at times melodramatic, but who of us wasn’t at that age?



Get Real (9:15pm on Thu, May 27) has been endlessly compared with the sleeper hit Beautiful Thing, which is unfortunate. As director Simon Shore points out, why is there room for only one English gay boy coming-of-age story whilst action flicks, cop capers and straight romantic comedies abound. They’re never described as the next Armageddon or Pretty Woman?…



There’s some uneven acting, especially on the part of the love interest hunk, who seems so wooden and whiney about whether to come out, you just want to slap him – but maybe that’s the point.



In contrast, Ben Silverstone gives a totally complete portrayal as the defiant, witty and entirely vulnerable Steven. It’s a portrait of a gay teenager that contains more complexity and respect than has existed as yet on the screen.



The script, based on research with actual queer high school students across England, is tight and harsh when it needs to be. Yet the film is still allowed to be a love story and be goopy when it needs to be. Puppy boys in love warms the cockles of even the most embittered queer heart.



The Edge Of 17 (9:15pm on Sun, May 23), in contrast, is much sexier and flirtatious, but somehow without as much soul.



Eric and his best friend Maggie head off to their first summer job to sling burgers at the local amusement park. Eric meets his first out queers in co-workers Rob and Angie (Lea Delaria is hilarious). This spawns an explosion over the summer as Eric’s closet door flies open.



He starts dressing more and more like Simon LeBon from Duran Duran. There’s the necessarily emotional outbursts and teary speeches that none of us really had in real life. All is saved again by some pretty genuine acting in the lead roles. And the actor who plays Eric’s mother is a quiet gem.



One is left to wonder though, how a boy can wander around small town Iowa looking like he just stepped out of a Culture Club video, complete with mascara, and not have the shit kicked out of him every day. Reality isn’t this film’s strongest suit – but who cares? It’s all still very touching. In the end it’s kind of fluff – all about becoming comfortable with oneself and that sort of nonsense, which isn’t nonsense, really.



If you’re looking for a brazen taste of queer youth in all its peculiarities, check out the short film Fishbelly White (as a part of the You Must Remember This program at 9:15pm on Sun, May 30). It relates the quirky story of rural outsider Duncan, whose best friend is his pet chicken.



Teased by all the local hooligans, Duncan gets all quivery whenever he’s around the hunk down the road, Perry. The feelings are mutual and the conversations are stilted. No preachy lay-it-on-the-line pronouncements here. Parents are almost invisible, other kids are cruel and Duncan gets by as best he can – he even gets a brief, hot kiss from Perry.



NEW TRICKS FROM OLD, SALTY DOGS

A film about aging lesbians, the lives they’ve lived, the relationships they’ve built and a fabulous weekend of celebration that they share together every summer, is not a film that is likely to gather a large audience.



That’s a shame – because Golden Threads (4:30pm on Sat, May 22) is a truly unsentimental, caring and yet challenging little gem.



Inside Out festival planners have wisely programmed it with a piece of fluff, a youth-oriented video, in an afternoon entitled Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number. It’s a smart way around the phobia and disinterest that the gay and lesbian communities have towards our aged. In one short hour, Golden Threads shows us what we’re missing – our elders, our wisdom, our experience, our survival.



Don’t go see this film out of duty or respect or principles – but do go! You will be introduced to the most incredibly strong, self-aware group of lesbians you may ever have the pleasure of knowing. These are women who were out in the 1920s and ’30s. They were queer-identified before there were even words for it.



They had taken lovers, lived together, been butch and femme, been locked up in insane asylums, had children, built careers, been lonely and fought for dignity before those who founded the modern gay rights movement were even born.



They are exciting, funny, angry and not the least bit demure or pathetic. Sure, the final 10-minute tribute to the stroke-weakened founder of the Golden Threads organization bends into sentimentality and is antithetical to the rest of the piece – but it’s a minor inconvenience to suffer when you can gain so much more.



ACHTUNG, BABY

Nobody does bleak like those Germans. Two feature films at this year’s festival, one German and one Swiss (in German), are crowded full of those desperate characters of alienation that it’s hard to take your eyes off.



In Lola Und Bilidikid (7pm on Sun, May 23), Billy is a gay hustler with a dangerous edge of self-hatred. Lola is the drag queen who loves him and desperately wants him to love her. They both live within the Turkish immigrant subculture of downtown Munich.



The story of their stormy relationship is part Fassbinder’s Querelle, part Uli Edel’s Last Exit To Brooklyn. Dark and intense, it seems that their entire lives are lived at night. Daytime scenes are only momentary, soon to be replaced again by the slick streets of Munich at night.



As the story unravels, there are many surprises. Lola’s disturbing family past comes back to haunt her. Then she discovers she has a brother – a gay brother at that – whom no-one has ever told her about. We also learn that her tendencies towards women’s clothing are not her own, but something forced on her by Billy, who doesn’t want to be seen dating a man. And the final threat comes not from the neo-nazi thugs who hang out on the corner, but from a much closer, more personal source.



It’s a sweaty, alienation-driven tale of characters struggling to express caring in a world full of cruelty. It isn’t nearly as painful as that may sound – and then there’s drag Turkish bellydancing!



F Est Un Salaud (Fogi Is A Bastard; 9:15pm on Wed, May 26) is a heart-breaking, existentialist relationship film for the young, queer, rock-and-roll crowd.



It’s the 1970s and Beni adores Fogi, lead singer of The Minks, a local punk band. The gangly 16-year-old hunts down his idol, moving from groupie to roadie to boyfriend.



But, as might be expected, everything deteriorates. Fogi returns to dealing and drugs. His relationship with Beni can only be re-ignited through degradation. He starts treating Beni as his slave and eventually as his pet. The film becomes a captivating insight into a sado-masochistic relationship, as director Marcel Gisler remains focussed on the psychological rather then sexual element of the relationship.



IT’S A MAD WORLD

In Robert Altman’s film classic, Nashville, there’s a harrowing scene in which an aspiring, young singer, Sherri-Lou, finds herself on stage for what she thinks is her first big chance – only to find out that she is not supposed to sing for the men gathered in the audience but strip, instead.



What follows is one of the most raw and vulnerable female moments ever captured on film. The scenes are pure Gwen Welles.



Angel On My Shoulder is a documentary constructed of home videos by her lover and best friend Donna Deitch (2pm on Mon, May 24). If Deitch’s name sounds familiar it’s because she directed the lesbian opus, Desert Hearts. She cast Welles in a small part in Hearts; they fell in love and they lived together ever since.



In 1992, Welles discovered she had cancer. Angel, another striptease of sorts, is the documentation of her slow and painful death. It’s sometimes hard to watch.



On rare occasion, it’s even boring to watch. The camera rarely moves – it’s a home movie after all.



Welles talks directly into the camera about her death experience – Deitch encourages from behind the camera.



But Welles’ quirky, defiant and, admittedly, a little insane character draws you in over and over again – as she explains her struggles with addictions, bulimia, self-doubt and alien paranoia.



What is it like for a woman who has considered suicide since age four to finally face death? One is left to consider whether her refusal of traditional treatments is an incredible statement of individuality or merely a death wish.



Another, sometimes lighter, portrait of mental illness is the wonderfully dramatic Lionel’s Birthday – a one person monologue that is hilarious, sad and insightful. This short film relates the breadth and limitations of Lionel’s life after he has been released from a psychiatric hospital and as he prepares to celebrate his birthday. The virtuoso acting job in the lead role will win you over from the opening frame (4:30pm Sun, May 23).







David Collins has two pieces in the festival, co-directed with Ian Jarvis: Vain But Cheap (2pm on Sun May 23), a Fashion TV-style segment about gay men and hair obsessions, and Something Died With Johnnie (9:15pm on Mon, May 24), a sex-positive recollection of life before safe sex and AIDS.