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By James Wegg | June 4, 2004

Canada’s biggest celebration of all things queer in film and video completed another successful run with Ian Iqbal Rashid’s “Touch of Pink” deservedly walking away with the Best Artistic Achievement in a Feature award. This Canada/UK co-production pays homage to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson bedroom comedies of the ‘50s and features Jimi Mistry as Alim, an Ismali-Canadian photographer whose secret confidant is his imaginary friend Cary Grant.
The Best Feature honours went to Sugar, John Palmer’s vivid adaptation of Bruce La Bruce short stories which centre on the difficulties of an inexperienced young suburbanite falling in love with a full-service hustler. This film has some wonderful segments including the unexpectedly erotic sex-trade practitioner’s session with a severely obese woman and some disturbing moments as the lovers finally consummate their union, but with a paying client sitting at ringside.
Honorable mention in the feature category went to Sonia Slutsky’s marvellous documentary Drag Kings on Tour. Six “gender-fluid” womyn band together for a three week, 16-stop road trip from New York City to Toronto. Ken Las Vegas (a.k.a. Kendra Kuliga) gets voted off the trip early on for not knowing “how to play together;” Carlos Las Vegas (no relation, a.k.a. Reece Lagartera) has a momentary panic attack when she/he’s testosterone shot is delayed a week; and Neeve’s (a.k.a. Pat Riarch) parents are cheered to the rafters by the mainly lesbian throng that have filled a Milwaukee bar to savour the moment of freedom of gender expression.
This type of programming certainly fulfills Inside Out Executive Director, Scott Ferguson’s goal of presenting “the continuing story of love, drama, politics and sex.” Kathleen Mullen, Director of Programming is especially proud of this year’s curated programs “SuperTrannyFilmSelection,” (think “Gender ‘R Us”), “Video Virgins,” where established film and video makers mentored newcomers, and “The TAIS Queer Cartoon Show,” that provided a much-needed outlet and training for those interested in short-short animation.
All in all, 273 films and videos from 31 countries were presented in 85 programs of shorts, documentaries and features.
Never far from the surface of outrageous and outlandish new work are the laws that try to regulate art. In Canada, the latest attempt at controlling morality is Bill C-12, which deals with child pornography. Mullen has concerns. “It has the potential to seriously limit … programming choices … that deal with teenage sexuality. After all, we didn’t all come out after 18,” she said.
How right she is. Many of this year’s foreign entries depicted various aspects of the problems of youth sexuality. Kai Pieck’s brilliant film, The Child I Never Was (Germany 2002), tells the true story of an emotionally troubled teenager who preys on then kills four boys to ensure his same-sex “secret” is never discovered. The performances are eerily spectacular.
Equally compelling is Julián Hernández’s A Thousand Clouds of Peace (Mexico 2003) where seventeen-year-old Gerardo (superbly portrayed by Juan Carlos Ortuño) struggles to find true love with men that say they will call again, but seldom do.
A quartet of young Mormons coming to L.A. to witness and one of their number falling head-over heels for the next-door stud muffin is the premise of the beautifully produced, but script-lite “Latter Days” (Jay Cox, USA 2003). With a terrific cast including veteran Jacqueline Bisset, the film shows early promise before teetering then collapsing under the barrage of cliché situations and dialogue.
Over its ten days of screenings—many of those sold out—Inside Out has done a fine job, not only in assisting the promotion of new work, but also selecting films that don’t shy away from the good, the bad and the painfully excruciating reality of coming to terms with whoever we are. The ultimate winners are those anonymous members of the audience who, finally, don’t feel lost and lone.

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