The Toronto Queer Film Festival (TQFF) is a collectively-run, artist-centered, not-for-profit festival that distinguishes itself from other events by not only serving the LGBTQ2S+ community but focusing on experimental time-based media that challenges and expands social, political, and artistic conventions. It aims to showcase contemporary, innovative, queer and trans film and video art from local, low-income, DIY filmmakers, and emerging artists.
TQFF’s core statements on paying artists as much as possible aligns very much with Lesflicks’ own ethical-pricing model. Like Lesflicks, TQFF recognizes that ‘artistic labour is deserving of more than exposure, applause or industry recognition. By paying artists and putting them first, we are supporting the media art ecosystem that we all share in and are responsible to care for.’ From one non-profit organisation to another, Lesflicks is delighted to see and be able to amplify the support of queer stories brought to audiences by Toronto Queer Film Festival.
The central theme in TQFF 2021 is Queer Emergencies. From COVID to the Apocalypse, from concrete crises to spiritual struggles and colonial calamity, the program shines a light on the ways queer, trans, and 2 Spirit people are grieving, overwhelmed, and uncertain during hard times such as those brought on by the pandemic, but there are also stories of love, solidarity, resistance, and joy.
Listed below are films being shown at TQFF 2021 that have LBTQ+ representation and/or women-loving-women storylines for you to look out for.
42 DNI / 42 DAYS
11:15 min. NETHERLANDS, 2019
Caution: References to terminal disease, disability, and suicide. This film also contains nudity and sexual situations.
42 Days focuses on the moment of confrontation with a terminal disease and an attempt to process a personal tragedy. The film is a form of visual diary, taking the viewers on a journey of realizations regarding the filmmaker’s difficult family relations, gender and sexual identity, and lack of control. It reflects on shame, guilt, and the experience of queerness in a conservative, Catholic setting, as well as on the concepts of migration and re-rooting. The filmmaker uses this deeply personal and moving film to reflect on whether it’s possible to fully accept one’s fate.
ALL THE COLOURS
Pippa Samaya, Tara Jade Samaya
3:18 min, AUSTRALIA 2020
A married couple endeavour to negotiate their shared space during the COVID-19 lockdown in Australia. One a dancer, one a filmmaker; they bring us inside their rollercoaster of a new normal in strange times.
Sean Horlor and Steve Adams
11:33 min, Canada 2016
This short documentary explores a week in the life of Angela—a roller derby athlete and transgender rights activist in Alberta, Canada. As a jammer for the Calgary All-Stars team, she skates under the name Easy Break Oven and is a role model in the local derby community. She also coaches kids from the small-towns surrounding the city, which is one of the most conservative and religious parts of the country. While preparing for her first derby match of the season, she begins to see her teammates and her life in a new light.
BODIES OF DESIRE
Varsha Panikar & Saad Nawab
03:41, INDIA, 2020
Using Varsha Panikar’s poetry series by the same name, as the point of departure, “Bodies of Desire” is a visual poetry film co-directed with Saad Nawab. The film captures four sets of lovers amid who passionately create a portrait of tender intimacy, longing, discovery, desire, embrace and care, and profound companionship. It is a sensual celebration of genderless
15:00, SOUTH AFRICA, 2019
Caution: References to domestic abuse situations and violence
A love letter to two survivors of intimate partner violence as they navigate and confront their trauma, ‘dear friend” is a film that draws from the contemplative patience of letter writing to share the story of many women, rarely told. The letter greets the viewer with an abrupt and fierce jerk into the memories of the two survivors of intimate partner violence. It is a glimpse into the survivor’s journey of denial, acknowledgement, and determination to leave. Through their voices, we can hear and imagine women we might know. The film urges us to see past the darkness and the shadowed veil of silence shrouding this issue. It casts light and commands: even if you choose not to see, you will hear these stories.
Do I Have Boobs Now?
Milena Salazar and Joella Cabalu
06:42 min, Canada, 2017
In 2015, Victoria-based trans activist Courtney Demone launched the viral online campaign #DoIHaveBoobsNow, in which she posted topless photos of her transition on social media while undergoing hormone replacement therapy. One year later, Demone revisits the global conversation she catalyzed on social media censorship policies and the sexualization of feminine bodies and reflects on the impacts of being thrust into the critical spotlight as a visible trans activist and queer feminist.
Brendan Lee Hickey
13:47 min, USA, 2020
The leader of a band called Everything Bagel has just experienced a devastating breakup. She contemplates a way forward in the days leading up to an important gig. But it also seems like the World might be ending… Like, actually ending.
GAY AS IN HAPPY: A QUEER ANTI-TRAGEDY
Jordana Valerie Allen-Shim
03:22 min, CANADA, 2020
An award-winning, experimental, autoethnographic documentary about queer joy, resistance, and resilience in the face of abuse, trauma, and transphobia.
HER & HER
12:53 min, UK, 2020
Her & Her have been seeing each other for a few months now and are both very much in love. But they have just moved into Her small one-bedroom flat and of course, she’s brought the dog! Suddenly Her home is their home and the realities of their differences come to full view: different backgrounds, cultures, upbringings, rules. Both British. Both women. One black. One white. Follow them on their journey seeing just how their differences can complement each other.
LONG TIME COMIN’
53min, CANADA, 1993
There is a cultural revolution going on in Canada, and Faith Nolan and Grace Channer are on the leading edge. These two African-Canadian lesbian artists give back to art its most urgent meanings–commitment and passion. Grace Channer’s large and sensuous canvasses and musician Faith Nolan’s gritty and joyous blues propel this documentary into the spheres of poetry and dance. Long Time Comin’ captures their work, their urgency, and their friendship in intimate conversations with both artists.
07:46 min, Canada, 2019
A queer woman of colour struggles to regain her voice from the void as traumatic memories threaten to glitch her spirit away piece by piece, leaving an empty shell. With every ounce of willpower, she must find the strength to face the reality of another day.
06:30 min, CANADA, 2019
When a vintage bassinet appears at filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung and long-time fiancée Victoria Mata’s home, it sets off a chain reaction of emotions. “The Bassinet” is a gentle and affecting story about Tiffany’s struggle with the intersection of her sexual orientation and cultural identity, and the cross-generational burden of having a baby in the context of rigid social constructs of marriage and family.
All events at the Toronto Queer Film Festival 2021 are Pay What You Can (suggested $20 CAD). No one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Tickets can be purchased online at www.torontoqueerﬁlmfest.com
The festival pass gives access to all live events, plus archival access to all the films and events for a 30-day period from March 25 – April 25, 2021 through the festival portal www.tqff.ca/watch-now. All screenings are closed-captioned and the panels will be ASL-interpreted. You can donate however much you can and enjoy all the queer content put together by TQFF today!
Be sure to keep an eye out for more Lesflicks articles and new entries in our film database as we continue to bring you more information on the LBTQ+ content we come across. Remember to follow us on social media and register for our newsletter to keep up-to-date with all our LBTQ+ film news!
This article was written by:
Writer, Reviewer, Social
Ping believes in the power of love and kindness, and that "love is love" no matter what shape or form it comes in. She would like to see positive representation for all walks of life in film and media.