Ottawa's Inside Out Film Festival Runs Oct. 23-26!

Tru Love opens Inside Out tonight at The ByTowne.
Ottawa gears up for another festival as the local edition of Inside Out starts today at The ByTowne. Inside Out, Ottawa’s largest LGBT film festival and an offshoot of the larger Toronto festival, seems like a great alternative for Ottawans looking for a warm and inviting atmosphere to cheer them up. This year’s festival boasts an impressive line-up of features and shorts, including two Oscar contenders from Brazil and Switzerland, plus the opening night screening of the Canadian film Tru Love. The festival moves to The ByTowne as its home for most screenings (some are also at Club SAW) now that the defunct World Exchange is sitting empty. (But it’s still a great source for free parking on weekends, FYI.) ByTowne previously hosted the Inside Out closing night screening of Blue is the Warmest Colour to a packed audience, so hopefully the move means that more cinephiles will come out for a few screenings and help the festival get bigger and better as it grows!

Unfortunately, Inside Out doesn’t do media accreditation for the Ottawa festival and I can barely afford bus tickets at the moment, let alone movie tickets (since all my TIFF coverage is still in editorial limbo…), so I won’t be seeing nearly as many films from the sturdy programme as I’d like to. I’ll be there in spirit!
Lilting is Inside Out's Closing Night film.

Anyhow, here are five picks for the Ottawa Inside Out Film Festival that look particularly dandy:

Tru Love

Dir. Kate Johnston, Shauna McDonald | Canada | 87 min.
Thursday, Oct. 23 at 9:00 pm – ByTowne Cinema
37-year-old Toronto dyke, Tru (Shauna MacDonald)—a notorious womanizer with intimacy issues—finds herself falling for her friend Suzanne’s mother, the beguiling 60-year-old Alice. Despite their age difference, Tru and Alice experience an immediate connection, and while Suzanne is away at the office the two spend their cold winter days together having dinners, walking on a snowy Sugar Beach and relaxing at Tru’s cozy home on Toronto Island. Suzanne, however, sees where this friendship is headed and sets out to ruin the blossoming relationship.
-Why you should see it: This queer Canadian May-December romance has been charming audiences festivals around the world and racking up audience awards at numerous Canadian and international film festivals, including Toronto’s Indie Out, and

Regarding Susan Sontag

Dir. Nancy D. Kates | USA | 101 min.
Saturday, Oct. 25 at 12:15 – ByTowne Cinema
Synopsis: Regarding Susan Sontag is an intimate study of one of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the 20th century. Endlessly curious and gracefully outspoken throughout her career, Sontag became one of the most important literary, political and feminist icons of her generation.
Examining Sontag’s early infatuation with books, her first experience in a gay bar, her first marriage and her relationship with acclaimed photographer, Annie Leibovitz, Regarding Susan Sontag is a nuanced investigation into the life of a towering cultural critic and writer whose works on photography, war and terrorism still resonate today.
-Why you should see it: Sontag’s strong alternative voice marks a highlight of this year’s other über-literate doc The 50 Year Argument and her confrontation with Norman Mailer in the Martin Scorsese-co-directed film is reason enough to argue that Sontag has a perspective that fits right in at an alternative film festival. Plus, the film’s narrated by Patricia Clarkson—don’t you just love her?!

The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho)

Dir. Daniel Ribeiro | Brazil | 95 min.
Friday, Oct. 24 at 9:30 pm – ByTowne Cinema
Synopsis: Leonardo is a blind teenager struggling to break free from his well-meaning friends and family. At home, his over-protective mother doesn’t trust him to be on his own. His best friend, Giovana, attentively looks out for him even though Leo is blithely unaware of the torch she carries. When new student Gabriel arrives at school, he befriends Leonardo and Giovana and the trio become inseparable. Leo and Gabriel’s friendship gently evolves, as each tries to find the courage to reveal their deeper feelings. Meanwhile, Giovana begins to feel jealous that she is no longer his sole caretaker.
-Why you should see it: The Way He Looks is Brazil’s official submission in this year’s competition for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars and its netting some pretty favourable reviews. This year’s BFLF race features a number of notable LGBT films, and Looks is one of the few that Ottawans may see before nomination day.

The Circle (Der Kreis)

Dir. Stefan Haupt | Switzerland | 102 min.
Sunday, Oct. 26 at 4:30 pm – ByTowne Cinema
Synopsis: This absorbing film, part documentary and part historic recreation, examines a tumultuous period in The Circle, Switzerland's pioneering gay male organization. In 1942, Switzerland decriminalized same-sex relations, which led to a thriving underground gay community that produced an internationally-read magazine and held legendary annual balls. In present-day interviews, schoolteacher Ernst and drag performer Röbi Rapp—partners for over 50 years—recount their lives; the critical role The Circle played in gay life, and how a series of murders shook Zurich's gay community in the late 1950s, leading to repression and scapegoating.
-Why you should see it: This year’s other LGBT Oscar contender at Inside Out this year, The Circle sounds like a fascinating doc/drama hybrid that situates true events within subjective experience.


Dir. Hong Khaou | UK | 86 min.
Sunday, Oct. 26 at 9:30 pm – ByTowne Cinema
Synopsis: Staggering from the recent death of his lover Kai, Richard (Ben Whishaw) reaches out to Kai’s mother Junn. Kai was Junn’s lifeline to the world; she relied on him for everything, but despite this enforced intimacy, he never came out to her and Junn remains fiercely critical of Richard through a fugue of maternal jealousy and denial. Since they share no common language, Richard hires a translator, and the two improbable relatives attempt to reach across a chasm of misunderstanding through their memories of Kai. Lilting is a perceptive meditation on the path to connection between two human souls and reveals that what separates us can also bind us together.
-Why you should see it: The drama starring the new Q Ben Whishaw and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Cheng Pei-Pei has been netting great reviews since Sundance, especially for Whishaw’s performance.

The Ottawa Inside Out Film Festival runs Oct. 23-26.
View the full schedule of films here.