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7 Powerful LGBTQ2+ Films To Catch at FCFF 2023

“Why Can’t You See Me?” (One Love) / “I Want Them To See Me”  (Adore

This year, the Forest City Film Festival is proud to present a wide array of LGBTQ2+ cinema created by both members of the queer community and its allies, produced locally in Southwestern Ontario and from around the world.

In preparation for our 2023 festival (Oct. 14-22), here are some short films, along with feature length titles from our Best of the World lineup, that highlight and celebrate the experiences of LGBTQ2+ individuals and the community at large.

Adore, Forest City Film Festival, LGBTQ2+ films

Adore (2022) dir. Beth Warrien

Exploring repression, generational trauma, and the transformative healing power of acceptance, Toronto filmmaker Beth Warrien’s Adore is a beautiful coming-of-age tale told from a queer perspective rarely explored in mainstream cinema.

Luci, a Peruvian-Canadian queer woman, secretly gifts her cherished nephew Carlos a dress on Christmas Day, perfect for their make-believe games wherein boys can be princesses and girls can be knights. When Carlos yearns to make this fictional world a reality by revealing himself to his family, Luci accidentally perpetuates the same vicious cycle of suppression and shame she is trapped in in order to protect him.

Dazzling both in its emotional complexity and visual spectacle, Adore blossoms just like its queer characters, and is a film that you will not want to miss.

Oct. 21, 6:00 PM, Wolf Performance Hall
Film Synopsis, Trailer and Tickets

EITR, Forest City Film Festival, LGBTQ2+ films

EITR (2022) dir. Fateema Al-Hamaydeh Miller

Brilliantly filmed and edited in the style of a nineties Arab soap opera, EITR uses its nostalgic form to deliver a trailblazing narrative and give much-needed cinematic representation to queer Muslim experiences.

Much like the knockoff perfumes he sells in his late father’s shop, Mohamed lives his life inauthentically, denying his own queerness in order to live up to the heteronormative expectations of his mother and those around him. When an attractive new customer walks through the doors of his business, however, everything changes, and Mohammad is forced to unpack his own feelings regarding his sexuality.

Despite its themes of cultural queer trauma, EITR is a delightful short that flourishes through its humor, charm, and genuinely touching romance. As the Palestinian-Canadian director Fateema Al-Hamaydeh Miller puts it, “We need more reflections of our intersectional experiences on screen that end not in tragedy, but in celebration!”

Oct. 22, 10:30 AM, Wolf Performance Hall
Film Synopsis, Trailer and Tickets

One Love, Forest City Film Festival, LGBTQ2+ film

One Love (2023) dir. Nahlia Loren Couto

In a barrage of fabric, colours, textures, and pulsing techno music, a non-binary voice boldly proclaims “When you conquer gender, you play your own God.”

Emphasizing the fluidity in nature from water to gender expression, One Love is an experimental, sustainable fashion short film showcasing a non-binary person (Lauren Bailey)’s gender journey and how fashion plays a significant role in crafting one’s self-image. 

While tackling the darkness of the trans experience, the film ultimately shows the strength of surviving oppressive systems and challenging binaries used to restrict us, and how clothing can become our armour through the powerful gender euphoria we feel while wearing it. Created by students at Fanshawe College in a time when trans rights are under direct attack, One Love’s narrative of survival and celebration is not only inspiring, it is imperative.

One Love
Oct. 20, 7:00 PM, Museum London
Film Synopsis and Tickets

Monster, Forest City Film Festival, LGBTQ2+ films

Monster (2023) dir. Hirokazu Koreeda

A stunning exercise in empathy, Monster is not only a return to form for Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda (previous Palme d’Or winner for his 2018 film Shoplifters), but is also one of of the most beautifully challenging films, LGBTQ+ or otherwise, featured in FCFF’s second annual Best of the World Fests.

When a single mother learns that her son’s troubling changes in behaviour may be a result of an abusive teacher, she demands answers from everyone involved. As more is revealed through shifting perspectives however, it becomes clear what the real monster is, and it is one that many queer audiences will unfortunately understand intimately.

The 2023 Queer Palm recipient at the Cannes Film Festival, Monster is masterful in its care and humanity for its subjects, and is more than deserving of its many accolades.

Oct. 20, 6:30 PM, Imagine Cinemas
Film Synopsis and Tickets

Orlando, My Political Biography, Forest City Film Festival, LGBTQ2+ films

Orlando, My Political Biography (2023) dir. Paul B. Preciado

Orlando, My Political Biography (2023) is a French documentary film that is a transgender spin on a classic tale. Using Virginia Woolf’s novel as the framework (a story wherein the main character undergoes a miraculous transformation into a different gender), theorist Paul B. Preciado casts 26 trans and non-binary individuals of varying ages and experiences to proclaim that there are now Orlandos around the world, allied together through the same struggles and metamorphosis.

Breaking binaries of both gender and traditional documentary form, Orlando, My Political Biography is a joyous call for queer and trans liberation that comes at the most important time in history to do so.

Orlando, My Political Biography
October 15, 12:30 PM. Wolf Performance Hall
Film Synopsis and Tickets

The Persian Version, Forest City Film Festival

The Persian Version (2023) dir. Maryam Keshavarz

“You know the best thing about gay marriage? Gay divorce” quips our lead character in this Sundance hit dramedy.

Winner of Sundance’s U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and part of our lineup for our Best of the World Fests, The Persian Version follows Leila, one of the only women in a large Iranian-American immigrant family, and her estranged relationship with her mother Shirin. A writer/director with an ex-wife who discovers she’s pregnant after a drunken hookup with a man dressed in Hedwig drag, Leila doesn’t exactly live up to the expectations of her strictly traditional mother. However, once a scandalous family secret is revealed about her mother, she begins to understand the woman she never thought she’d understand.

Witty, bold, over-the-top and emotional, The Persian Version tells an underrepresented story that demands to be seen.

The Persian Version
Oct. 21, 6:00 PM, Imagine Cinemas
Film Synopsis and Tickets

Two of Us

The Two Of Us (2022) dir. Conor Struan Forrest

While not a strictly LGBTQ+ narrative, The Two of Us centers itself on the complexities of romantic relationships, told from the perspective of different members of a family.

Jerry, the youngest member of the family, is entering the strange new world of romance for the first time, confused and fearful of what to do after developing a crush on a girl at his school. His goth older sister Madison experiences her first hurdle in a relationship after her girlfriend reveals that she will be going to a distant university. Their parents however have the most confusing relationship by far, and changes Jerry and Madison’s perspective on relationships as a result.

The film asks the viewer if our cultural construct of monogamy hurts us more than it helps us, and shows us a loving family who accepts every member for who they are and prioritizes their happiness first.

The Two Of Us
Oct. 20, 12:15 PM, Wolf Performance Hall
Film Synopsis, Trailer and Tickets

Written by Raine Petrie