We are back again for the 2017 edition of the Hot Docs Film Festival reviewing films, and keeping an ear to the ground to see what has audiences buzzing. Last year’s festival screened two of the nominees for the 2017 Best Documentary Feature Oscar including the eventual winner OJ: Made in America, so there’s no doubt that once again the year’s best docs will be on full display.
It is still common for many LGBT people from small towns and remote communities to face resistance and intolerance. These places are slow to adapt and change and often have close-minded attitudes about anything outside the norm. It’s usually an unwelcoming, and occasionally unsafe, environment to be openly gay so plans are often made by teens to move to some place more accepting as soon as possible. So goes the story of Miles Walton, a young gay man stuck in a dead-end town, desperate to get to Chicago in search of a better life. Nathan Aldoff’s latest film Miles taps into an experience that many outsiders searching for larger things in life can identify with and teaches the lesson to stand firm when you think what you’re doing is right.
Campy comedies have long been a part of the LGBT film landscape. Often used as an antidote to the more serious stories that have permeated the community’s history, they pay homage to the sassy, flamboyant nature that developed to counteract the intolerance and oppression. This year’s addition comes from Matt Kugelman and his film Hurricane Bianca, starring Rupaul’s Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio. It’s a fish-out-of water story that is silly and loads of fun, and teaches us there’s no reason to fear the things we don’t understand.
As teenagers, most of us at one point or another struggled to understand who we were. It’s a common experience at that age while trying to make sense of our new found sense of independence and our search for our identity. The crucial lesson was to learn how to be honest and truthful and not be what others thought we should be. What Karem Sanga’s film First Girl I Loved wonderfully captures is that sense of confusion that comes with being that age, especially when questioning your sexuality is part of the journey, and standing up to declare who you are to the world.