In the Blog
Inside Out Reviews Part 1
For more than two decades, Inside Out has brought Toronto’s LGBT community together in celebration of the best queer film from Canada and around the world. The Inside Out Film Festival runs from May 26 to June 5. Tickets for all screenings are $11 for students with ID and $10 for youth under 18. Youth under 25 can attend free weekdays matinees for all screenings before 6:00PM.
Still from Hurricane Bianca, courtesy of Inside Out
Director: Matt Kugelman
2016, USA, 82 minutes
For fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Hurricane Bianca is a a truly campy comedy starring Season 6 winning drag queen Bianca Del Rio (AKA Roy Haylock). The film begins in New York City where Richard, played by Haylock is struggling to find work. He finally gets a job as a science teacher in small-town Texas, forcing him to leave his city life behind. But soon after, the principal finds out he’s gay, fires Richard and leaves him once again, at a crossroads. Richard’s unceremonious lay-off speaks to the bleak reality of LGBT employment discrimination across the United States.
Richard decides to return to the school dressed as Bianca Del Rio, gets a job, and gives her ignorant, bratty students the tough love and life lessons they need. The hijinks that follow are helped along by a colourful cast of characters including fellow drag race contestants Willam and Shangela, Bianca’s nemesis Vice-Principal Debbie (played by SNL alum Rachel Dratch) and her new Texas bestie Karma (played by pioneering trans actress Bianca Leigh). The friendship between Bianca and Karma is particularly significant given the transphobic remarks RuPaul has apologized for in the past, and the ongoing dialogue between drag and trans communities both on and off the show.
The film is a tongue-in-cheek, dragtastic take on Mrs. Doubtfire where everything is intentionally over the top - from Dratch’s cartoonish, villainous portrayal to Alan Cumming’s ridiculous British accent in his cameo. Many scenes often feel like a series of sketches in a Del Rio variety show, buoyed by her character’s main quest. The humour is quintessential Bianca: playful, fun and punctuated with her characteristic one-liners as she seeks open minds in small-town Texas.
Still from Kiki, courtesy of Inside Out
Director: Sara Jordenö
2016, USA/Sweden, 94 minutes
Making its Canadian premiere, this documentary provides audiences an intimate look at the Kiki scene in New York City. Kiki is a youth-focused culture that evolved out of the Harlem Drag Balls and Ballroom scene made famous by the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning. The film was made in close collaboration with Kiki leader Twiggy Pucci Garçon, granting viewers an all-access pass to Kiki Balls - performances where the majority of participants are Black and Brown LGBTQ youth.
The film is beautifully shot, strengthened by Director Sara Jordenö’s distilled presentation of Kiki performers. In the opening scenes, we watch dancers voguing down the street against the backdrop of vibrant, urban landscapes. The imagery speaks to the dancers’ desire to take up space, both as a way to elevate their art form and affirm their diverse identifies. The first line of narration, “Everything we do is a transition,” echoes both the spectrum of identities explored in Kiki culture and the way it’s expressed through dance. Jordenö does an excellent job of allowing interview subjects to speak for themselves. Apart from these interviews, there is no additional commentary or narration. The film alternates between lively Kiki Ball scenes and in-depth interviews with the people who populate this world, allowing each character to speak about their personal journey, their families, and the issues that matter to them including sexual health, homelessness, poverty, HIV/AIDS, sex work and the problematic nature of the marriage equality movement. The film illustrates how community members empower each other as artists, experiment with diverse gender presentations, while constantly demonstrating an awareness of the political realities in which they live, work and play.