Sun. Apr 5th, 2020
TIFF is raising the bar of what makes an LGBTQ film

The LGBTQ selections at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival spread over continents, genders, nationalities and colors. They feature intense family dramas, personal coming out stories, historical biopics and dark comedy.

One of the most misunderstoods letters of the LGBTQ acronym is the Q (queer). A ‘queer’ film doesn’t necessarily need to fall into the strict guidelines of being a ‘gay’ films. Queer embodies a value, a mentality. It’s inclusive to a diverse range of film types camp and dark comedy but can also include films that may not specifically have a gay, lesbian or bisexual narrative but a exists in the subtext. 

A film that encompasses that is BORDER. It’s a barrier breaking film with a sequence that transcends gender (Read my review here) in the most revolutionary of ways. It’s a must-see of the festival. 

Canadian wunderkind and out director Xavier Dolan’s new film THE DEATH AND LIFE OF JOHN F. DONOVAN might not be overtly gay but themes run through his saga of an American television star (played by Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington) and his pen pal relationship with a young boy (played by Jacob Tremblay), which turns into a scandal-rocked story. Add to that a legion of Best Actress Oscar winners like Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates and you have a gay film’s fan’s dream film. 

Check out some of the slate of LGBTQ films at TIFF this year, with festival descriptions and links and my reviews where applicable. 


Loosely based on the infamous Argentinian serial killer dubbed “Death Angel,” this cautionary drama follows an innocuous-looking but deeply sinister thief whose lawlessness escalates exponentially when he takes up with a career criminal.


The teenaged son of a Baptist pastor is forced into a gay-conversion program by his parents, in actor-director Joel Edgerton’s emotive drama starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges.


Rima Das presents a visceral coming-of-age drama about a young girl living in rural India, fighting her way through love and loss as she figures out who she really is.


A jaded, out-of-work biographer (Melissa McCarthy) resorts to selling forged historical letters on the black market, and grapples with the ethical complications that arise, in Marielle Heller’s charming biopic about bestselling writer Lee Israel.


Keira Knightley stars in this historical drama about the eponymous French novelist, whose provocative debut — falsely credited to her husband — becomes the toast of Paris, triggering a battle for identity, equality, and self-determination at the dawn of the feminist age.


A hard-hitting emotional portrayal of teenage angst and fragile burgeoning masculinity, Consequences — Darko Štante’s full-length debut — is also the first feature film by a Slovenian filmmaker to play the Festival in almost 10 years. Centred on a powerhouse performance from charismatic newcomer Matej Zemljič, the film takes an unflinching look at the raw impulses of adolescence and the insecurity that lies beneath.

Read my interview with director Darko Štante here.


Lukas Dhont’s expressive first feature follows a young girl, assigned male at birth, as she struggles to realize her dreams of becoming a ballerina, all the while desperate for her body to reflect her true identity.

Read my Cannes review of the film here.


Propelled by magnetic performances and intricate dynamics, director Marie Davignon’s Girlfriends boldly dives into a fresh and punk-infused reunion of friends, where a rivalry manifests and takes a twisted turn.


In the latest from Canadian director Keith Behrman, Kyle MacLachlan and Maria Bello star as divorced parents whose teenage son (Josh Wiggins) faces seismic personal upheaval after an unexpected incident at a party.


A solitary and alienated television weatherman “hires” a middle-aged Latino migrant worker to be his friend, in this darkly comedic reflection on class, ethnicity, and companionship in contemporary Los Angeles.


The latest from Wanuri Kahiu charts a precarious love story between two young Kenyan women in a society where homosexuality is banned.

Read my Cannes review of the film here.


Two decades after his inspired feature debut The Hanging Garden won best Canadian Feature at TIFF, Thom Fitzgerald again explores interconnections of sexual identity, family, and small-town Nova Scotia life, in this intimate drama about a young woman reassessing her relationship with her mother following the death of her father.


Academy Award winner Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger star in this wrenching drama of a shunned small-town doctor and beekeeper in postwar Britain who befriends a struggling mother and son, helping them discover that love can be found in many forms.


Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki shine as socialite and author Vita Sackville-West and literary icon Virginia Woolf, respectively, in director Chanya Button’s sumptuous double portrait of two uncompromising women and the unconventional affair behind one of Woolf’s greatest novels.

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