Montreal’s LGBTQ+ film fest Image+Nation is on

Check out our highlights of the festival’s 31st edition.

Octavio is Dead! Image+Nation
Octavio is Dead! Image+Nation

Montreal’s LGBTQ+ film festival Image+Nation kicked off yesterday with a screening of Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel (Plaire, aimer et courir vite). Now in its 31st year, the festival gathers the best in queer cinema from the past year. That means some new discoveries, but also a few films you can catch in case you missed them the first time around.

That includes Sebastian Lelio’s Disobedience, which centres on a love story between a married Orthodox woman (Rachel McAdams) and her lapsed childhood friend (Rachel Weisz). The festival also screens The Disappearance of Cameron Post, the Sundance-winning dramedy set in a gay conversion camp that stars Chloe Grace Moretz. Though I didn’t actually catch it in its theatrical run, Jeremiah Zagar’s We the Animals was very well-reviewed, drawing comparisons with Beasts of the Southern Wild and other tales of childhood.

Drew Lint’s M/M played as part of Festival du nouveau cinéma, and while our own Nora Rosenthal wasn’t too hot on it, the film did take home two prizes at the FilmOut film festival in San Diego. M/M, a Canadian/German co-production, stars Québécois actor Antoine Lahaie as a young Canadian ex-pat in Germany who falls in with a techno-loving Berliner. Yann Gonzalez’s Un couteau dans le coeur also played the festival (in the genre-friendly Temps 0 section). I haven’t seen it, but I heard almost exclusively good things about this satirical slasher film set in the gay porn world. Even the Fantasia festival  is represented at Image+Nation this year with Colin Minihan’s What Keeps You Alive, a dark thriller starring Brittany Allen and Hannah Emily Anderson. Anne Fontaine’s Marvin ou la belle éducation, which recently screened as part of Cinemania, stars Finnegan Oldfield as a young gay actor who is preparing a one-man show about his life.

Rupert Everett makes his directorial debut with The Happy Prince, an Oscar Wilde biopic that looks at the poet and proto-dandy’s last days; keep your eyes peeled, as we’ll be running an interview with Everett closer to the film’s screening date on Dec. 1. Matt Smith (Dr. Who) stars as Robert Mapplethorpe in Mapplethorpe, a biopic of the famed photographer directed by Ondi Timoner (DiG!, We Live in Public); the film is actually Timoner’s fiction feature debut. Sook-Yin Lee directs Sarah Gadon and Rosanna Arquette in Octavio Is Dead!, a ghost story that premiered at Toronto’s InsideOut festival earlier this year. Amara Cash’s Daddy Issues is a millennial love story between a queer pixie and her sexually fluid Insta-crush — if the word millennial didn’t give it away, Insta-crush must’ve done it. Cash’s film won several prizes on the festival circuit, including the Outstanding First Feature prize at OutFest in Los Angeles.

Snapshots Image+Nation
Snapshots, Image+Nation

Piper Laurie stars in Melanie Mayron’s Snapshots, which has racked up a whopping 38 (!) prizes from various film festivals since the beginning of the year. Laurie plays the matriarch of a family that begins to unravel when an old roll of film is uncovered, bringing forth secrets long thought buried. Matt Bomer stars in Papi Chulo, a comedy about a weatherman who has a meltdown and becomes friends with a middle-aged Mexican day labourer. I’m not really sold on this Driving Miss Daisy-ass premise, but you never know.

Jeffrey Walker’s Riot tells the true story of Australian activists who clash with police in 1978. To be honest, this does seem awfully similar to the 2014 movie Pride, though the film (which stars Damon Herriman and Xavier Samuel) was very well-received upon its Australian release. Marcel Gisler’s Mario is a movie about a blossoming love affair between two male professional soccer players. One of the film’s leads, Max Hubacher, took home the Best Lead Actor Swiss Film Prize.

Joan Jett’s life and career are at the centre of Bad Reputation, a new documentary by Kevin Kerslake. Jett’s always been a bit cagey about her sexuality in interviews, though by all accounts, it’s explored in the film. Laure Marie Wayne’s Love, Scott tells the story of Scott Jones, a Nova Scotia man who was left paralyzed after a homophobic assault outside a bar.

That’s just a portion of the programming — the portion, admittedly, that I am more familiar with. The festival also offers shorts programs, conferences and other activities. For more information, visit the Image+Nation website.

Image+Nation runs from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2.

For our latest film reviews, please also visit the Film section.

To read the latest issue of Cult MTL, click here.

To vote for Montreal films in this year’s Best of MTL reader’s poll, click here.