Hot Docs 2017: ‘Girl Inside’ and ‘Tokyo Idols’

Girl Inside (DIR. Maya Gallus)

Hot Docs’ Focus on Maya Gallus programme features a screening of the documentarian’s 2007 Girl Inside, a film that chronicles a three-year process towards a substantial surgery for transgendered adult Madison.

Considering the current high-profile nature of transgender lives, Girl Inside predates a lot of front-and-centre panic portrayed through television specials and social media.  The doc touches upon misunderstandings and snap judgements, but Gallus captures a special modesty that seems rare nowadays where people are willing to be educated.  This may be because Gallus only zones in on a few individuals in Madison’s world, but it’s still admirable because of her representation of discussion and curiosity.

Madison makes for a wonderful and interesting subject as she walks the audience though her transition, including opinions and inner thoughts she has struggled with.  By Madison’s side is her grandmother Vivian, an encouraging and classy supporter.  The two women bring sensationally sweet chemistry to Gallus’ vulnerable doc.

People should be anticipating Girl Inside, but movie goers with a weak stomach should be prepared to see a minor yet graphic surgical procedure where Madison has her adams apple removed.

– Addison Wylie

Catch Girl Inside at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Tuesday, May 2 at 1:15 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre


Tokyo Idols (DIR. Kyoko Miyake)

A mass of middle aged Japanese men dance and cheer along to something occurring on the stage.  After several shots of this phenomenon, the audience is finally allowed to see what is causing this fervour: the next several shots are of teenage Japanese girls in infantilizing and revealing outfits singing about how they wish to hold on to their purity until they finish school.  This is how Tokyo Idols begins and it never lets up.

Kyoko Miyake uses Tokyo Idols to tell the story of the Japanese idol industry, an entire industry based around the idea of teenage girl purity and hinged on old men paying to go to their shows and meet and greets.  The Canadian-British co-production follows several idols (and wannabe idols) and fans or otakus as they discuss their respective lives which they live around their obsessions.  Adding some interviews with the parents of idols and social critics paints a truly disturbing picture of a lifestyle which sells increasingly younger children to men with, at least borderline, pedophilic tendencies.

The strongest aspect of the documentary is its refusal to demonize any of its subjects.  While the film has a blatant bias, it looks at its subjects from a neutral gaze.  The true monsters in this situation are those who make money off of the industry: therefore, Tokyo Idols refuses to demonize the otakus, the idols or even their parents, instead laying out the truths of this industry and allowing the audience to make up their own minds.

From this critic’s perspective, Tokyo Idols is a great documentary, but be prepared to feel the need for a shower as soon as it is done, because, again, the film starts gross and just manages to get more and more creepy.

– Shahbaz Khayambashi 

Catch Tokyo Idols at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Monday, May 1 at 9:15 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre

Wednesday, May 3 at 10:30 a.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sunday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam

Be the first to comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.