By: Shannon Page
The 25th annual Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival began May 21 with a screening of Paul Weitz’s film Grandma starring Lily Tomlin, Judy Greer, and Laverne Cox. The screening and opening gala kick off 11 days of film by and about members of the LGBT community.
Grandma, which was featured at the closing gala of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is the obvious choice to open Inside Out. Writer and director Paul Weitz’s previous work is an eclectic mix of such well known films as American Pie, About a Boy, and Antz. The big names featured in the cast were guaranteed to fill seats and the added draw of seeing Lily Tomlin, who has been in a relationship with her now-wife Jane Wagner since 1971, playing a lesbian for the first time in her career was sure-fire way get the attention of film goers.
The screening of Grandma was followed by an after party and silent auction. The party goers where a mismatched mix of past participants in the festival, such as Kate Johnston whose feature film Tru Love appeared at Inside Out last year; long-time Toronto film buffs; individuals and organizations who contribute financial support to Inside Out; and industry insiders. Scott Ferguson, Executive Director of Inside Out, and Andrew Murphy, the festival’s Director of Programming were also in attendance, as was Toronto Mayor John Tory. While none of the actors in Grandma made an appearance at the gala or the reception, Wylie Writes had the opportunity to chat with Weitz on the Inside Out pink carpet before the screening.
“I’m super happy to be here,” said Weitz about the experience of having Grandma screen at the festival. “It’s really like a dream come true to have this film playing at Inside Out.”
“I feel really like I identify more with Lily Tomlin’s character [in Grandma] than say, the guys in American Pie,” he admitted. “She [Tomlin] had a supporting part in a film that I did earlier [Admission with Paul Rudd and Tina Fey]… and I was hanging out with her and she was really sweet; she also had a really edgy sense of humour, and wouldn’t put up with any shit from anybody. She would really speak her mind. And, it started me thinking about how she’s someone in her 70s but she’s ten times as edgy as a lot of 18 year olds I know. And so the idea was about her teaching this granddaughter how to stick up for herself and how to be a feminist.”
“I think it’s extremely important to have a festival like this,” said Weitz, noting that LGBT film festivals not only provide an opportunity to celebrate current films by and about members of the LGBT community, but are also an opportunity to recognize and remember the history of queer cinema and the LBGT rights movement. “They’re important because we take for granted the further openness in North America and there are places other than [North America] where that isn’t the case. There needs to be awareness for the people that aren’t necessarily as able to express themselves.”
Certainly Inside Out, which features films from across the globe as well as a special 25th anniversary retro series that reflects on classics such as When Night is Falling, Pariah, and Gus van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, offers audiences the chance to immerse themselves in the legacy and current diversity of LGBT film.
Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.
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Shannon Page: @ShannonEvePage