Film & Video
3 min

Lesbian sex, beatnik murder and Hollywood’s finest

Matt Thomas runs down some of the gay-interest films playing at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival

The men of Kill Your Darlings
The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival opens with The Fifth Estate. Directed by Bill Condon and featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Brühl, the film details the relationship between WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
This year the 38th annual Toronto International Film Festival will screen more than 300 films from all over the world to an audiences of over 400,000 avid cinephiles. TIFF has a long history of showcasing queer films in its programming, helping put the spotlight on classic titles like Brokeback Mountain and Shortbus, and this year is no different. 
 
This spring at the Cannes Film Festival, critics and audiences we're shocked and intrigued when Abdellatif Kechiche's steamy lesbian coming of age French film Blue is the Warmest Colour walked away with the festival's highest honour, the Palme D'or. It's the first time in history the honour was awarded both to the director as well as the film's young stars Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. The simple but nuanced almost 3-hour opus tells the story of Adele, a sexually curious young girl, who meets a young blue-haired girl named Emma and the two begin a life-changing love affair. The film caused a stir at Cannes thanks to its many explicit lesbian sex scenes, including one long 15 minute section. While some critics lauded it for making intimate and raw sexuality a topic of conversation in the world of cinema again, others derided it for potentially exploiting its two straight young female leads and essentially making art-house pornography. Toronto audiences will have to make up their own minds when the film has it's North American premiere at the festival this year.  
 
Kill Your Darlings will be one of the most talked about LGBT titles at the festival with Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, taking on the part of gay literary heavyweight Allen Ginsberg in this 2013 Sundance Film Festival hit. The film centres around the true story of David Kammerer's murder by Lucien Carr at Columbia University in 1944 that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster), helping unintentionally kickstart the Beat Generation movement. Featuring a knock-out ensemble cast including Michael C. Hall, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen and Kyra Sedgwick, Kill Your Darlings is one title you don't want to be stuck howling in the streets over because you didn't get a ticket in time. 
 
More queer literary icons get the big screen treatment at TIFF this year with the World Premiere of Martin Provost's Violette. This film tells the story of controversial bisexual novelist Violette Leduc lifelong friendship and artistic connection with omnisexual feminist powerhouse Simone de Beauvoir that starts after the two meet in postwar Saint-Germain-des-Près in 1942. Tracking the creation of such seminal works as LeDuc's Ravages and de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, this flick is bound to be required viewing for queer lit bookworms. 
 
Also of interest to LGBT audiences this year  at TIFF is the fact-based drama The Dallas Buyers Club starring Matthew McConaughey who portrays straight Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, who in 1985 is diagnosed with HIV and given 30 days to live. With medication restrictions crippling treatment options, Ron hunts down alternative treatments legally and illegally and establishes a “buyers club” for fellow HIV-positive people. This film, from cult-gay drama C.R.A.Z.Y. director Jean-Marc Vallée, already has award season buzz swirling around McConaughey's lead performance. 
 
Many gay directors are coming to the festival with non-queer content including the ballsy festival opener The Fifth Estate, about Julian Assange and the Wikileaks scandal, from director Bill Condon (who directed Gods and Monsters, Kinsey and Dreamgirls) and gay french director Francois Ozon (Sitcom, 8 Women) makes an appearance with his coming of age film Young and Beautiful. British gay icon Tilda Swinton will also likely be in town, taking a break from protesting Russian homophobia, sleeping in art galleries and starring in androgynous David Bowie music videos, to support her role in Jim Jarmusch's moody vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive
 
Many films have yet to be announced and hopefully we'll get to see Bruce LaBruce's intergenerational gay love story Gerontophilia and the dark and dirty Queer Palm-winning cruising thriller Stranger on the Lake added to the line up. Even if you're only into TIFF for the parties, be sure to put the amfAR Inspiration Gala with musical headliners The Gossip and host Alan Cumming into your calender. Queer movies and parties and celebrities, oh my! Better start your planning now.