Beginning November 22nd and running through till December 2nd, the annual Image + Nation film festival will be presenting an exciting array of cinematic offerings focusing on stories from the LGBTQ community. This winter the festival celebrates its 31st year of bringing queer content to the big screen in Montreal. Things get started with the fest’s opening selection, Plaire, aimer et courir vite (Sorry Angel), a French film directed by Christophe Honoré, which will be screened Thursday night at 8PM at the Imperial Theatre.
In terms of the films in competition at this year’s Image + Nation, there’s plenty to choose from in all three of the categories; documentaries, features, and shorts. In the documentary category, Dykes, Camera, Action! by Caroline Berler explores the evolution of lesbian cinema from the work of pioneer filmmakers such as Barbara Hammer and Cheryl Dunye to the more recent work of directors Rose Troche and Desiree Akhavan. The Canadian documentary The Fruit Machine by Sarah Fodey is a timely film which explores the so-called “gay purge” which took place from the 1950s to the 1990s. During this time, members of Canada’s military and the civil servants were dishonourably expelled from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation.
The feature film category includes movies from around the world with offerings from countries such as India, Spain, France, Brazil, the U.K., and Canada. The U.S. biography Mapplethorpe, co-written and directed by Ondi Timoner, stars Matt Smith (from the acclaimed tv series “The Crown”) portraying troubled artist Robert Mapplethorpe as he rises to fame with his controversial BDSM portraits. Another highlight is sure to be Canadian filmmaker Sook-Yin Lee’s drama Octavio Is Dead! featuring actresses Sara Gadon and Roseanna Arquette.
One of the themes of this year’s Image + Nation festival, Lived Lives, includes the 2018 documentary Bad Reputation which focuses on the career of rock legend Joan Jett. Directed by Kevin Kerslake the movie takes viewers up close and personal with the music icon and provides fans with a glimpse back at her tumultuous journey from the formation of what was perceived as a novelty girl band to a respected member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Another of this year’s themes, Eyes on the World, includes cinematic offerings from a variety of different countries and cultures. Features include Evening Shadows, a drama from India by director Sridhar Rangayan, as well as The Cakemaker by Ofir Raul Graizer, which was selected as Israel’s entry for Best Foreign Language at this year’s Academy Awards. Eva+Candela (¿Como Te Llamas?) by Ruth Caudeli from Colombia explores the complexities involved in the breakup of a long term lesbian relationship. Another highlight of this year’s fest is The Happy Prince by British director and actor Rupert Everett, who portrays legendary writer Oscar Wilde during the years following his prison term. Canadian and particularly Quebec made films are always a popular draw at the film festival and this year is no exception. The program Queerment Quebec is set to screen a roster of shorts by local filmmakers followed by a discussion at Montreal’s PHI Centre on Monday November 26th at 7PM.
Image + Nation Festival runs until December 2nd.