image+nation Elliot Page Close to Me

image+nation presents a powerful showcase of queer storytelling from Nov. 16 to 26

Elliot Page’s Close to You is among the films screening at the 36th edition of the Montreal festival.

From Nov. 16 to 26, Canada’s pioneering LGBT2SQ+ film festival image+nation will showcase its innovative and groundbreaking programming that reflects the power and resilience of queer storytelling. Featuring 175 films from around the world, for its 36th edition, Montreal audiences will be treated to in-person screenings, panel discussions and other events. At the same time, cinephiles across Quebec and Canada will have the exclusive opportunity to catch carefully curated programming online throughout the 11-day run of the festival.

This year’s edition of image+nation features movies from 27 countries, including South Africa, Romania, Nigeria, Iran, Ireland and the USA, and a wide selection of local films spotlighted in sections like Queerment Québec, Made au Canada and Indigiqueer. Focus France, meanwhile, is a program devoted to highlighting French queer voices.

For this year’s opening film, the festival will screen Marinette, the story of Marinette Pinchon, the very first French soccer player to sign a professional contract in the U.S., and one of the first top French sportswomen to come out as queer. Filmmaker Virginie Verrier, and Marinette Pichon herself, will be in attendance.

image+nation’s closing event will feature the world premiere of Venus Envy: The House of Venus Story, based on Canada’s own internationally renowned fellowship of multidisciplinary artists whose mission has always been to spread joy while simultaneously opening up discussions about gender expression, long before the current discourse was brought to the fore. The evening also features a one-of-a-kind immersive show and party by the renowned art/performance platform Wiggle.

Other program highlights include the A Question of Gender section, which will feature the critically acclaimed Close You, starring and produced by Elliot Page;  the documentaries Summer Qamp, Who I Am Not and the double bill of The Aggressives and Beyond the Aggressives: 25 Years Later, as well as a powerful short film programme.

Canada’s lesbian community will be celebrated in Lesbian History Focus, with a screening of Marusya Bociurkiw’s Analogue Revolution: How Feminist Media Changed the World, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker and participants, as well as Marie Labory’s Lesbiennes, quelle histoire?, plus the latest short by fan favourite Céline Sciamma. 

image+nation 2023 also features the return of the I+N x FMC/CMF SERIES featuring discursive and informative encounters with Canadian film and game creators including Jennifer Markowitz (Summer Qamp), Sandi Somers (Hailey Rose), Blake Mawson, Bobbi Summers, Lily Kazimiera (I Hate People, People Hate Me), Vivek Shraya (How to Fail As a Popstar), Chloé Lussier (The Bed We Made — Lowbirth Games), Audrey Storey and Lucas J.W. Johnson (Glitchhikers — Silverstring Media). image+nation is one of the few film festivals actively working with game creators to expand our understanding of screen studies. 

With a wide variety of films to see, let’s jump into some of our recommendations.

Close to You

image+nation Elliot Page Close to Me
Close to You (directed by Dominic Savage)

Sam (Elliot Page) has a chance encounter with an old friend on his way home to a dreaded family reunion that forces him to confront long-buried memories. Co-written by Page, the film is a sometimes painful but authentic portrait of returning home post-transition. It is a powerful and compelling film that avoids cliché.

Close to You screens at the Cinéma Imperial (1430 Bleury), Nov. 18, 7 p.m. 

Fancy Dance

image+nation Fancy Dance
Fancy Dance (directed by Erica Tremblay)

It’s a great year for Lily Gladstone, whose performance in Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon is perhaps the most critically acclaimed work for an actor this year. For something a little different from Gladstone, be sure to check her out in Fancy Dance, where she plays Jax, the caretaker for her missing sister’s daughter. She grows close to a local stripper and soon finds herself on the run and in hot pursuit of her sister’s killer. This genre-busting film is a mystery steeped in family trauma, referencing the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Fancy Dance screens at the J.A. De Sève Cinema (1400 de Maisonneuve W.) on Nov. 24, 7 p.m.


Femme image+nation
Femme (directed by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping)

This year’s selection at image+nation showcases a substantial selection of genre cinema, Femme among them. Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is a drag artist in London who withdraws into himself and loses his career after a horrific attack. Months later, he recognizes one of his assailants in a gay sauna and quickly realizes he has the perfect opportunity to get revenge. The film co-stars George Mackay, who is having a banner year, and also stars in Bonello’s The Beast.

Femme screens at Cinéma Imperial (1430 Bleury) on Nov. 21, 7 p.m. 

Le Paradis (The Lost Boys)

Le Paradis (The Lost Boys)
Le Paradis (The Lost Boys) (directed by Zeno Graton)

A lush and tensely romantic film, Le Paradis is set at a youth correctional facility in France, where Joe (Khalil Ben Gharbia) prepares to return to society. But the arrival of William (Julien de Saint Jean) turns Joe’s desire for freedom into desire of another kind. Behind fences and cell walls, passions play havoc with the need for liberty. It was one of the best films I saw at this year’s Berlinale, where the film premiered.

Le Paradis screens at Cinéma Imperial (1430 Bleury) on Nov. 17, 7 p.m. and Nov. 18, 5 p.m. It is also available online from Nov. 19–26.

My Animal

My Animal
My Animal (directed by Jacqueline Castel)

This fantasy horror romance is about Heather (Bobbi Salvör Menuez), a young woman haunted by a family curse. When she falls for the rebellious Jonny (Amandla Stenberg), their connection threatens to unravel Heather’s suppressed desires, tempting her to unleash the animal within. Praised for its synth score, tormented atmosphere and incredible performances, My Animal is one of the year’s must-see genre films. 

My Animal screens at the J.A. De Sève Cinema (1400 de Maisonneuve W.) on Nov. 24, 9 p.m.

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