Inside Out Film and Video Festival
LocationToronto and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Founded1991 (Toronto)
2007 (Ottawa)
Festival dateMay (Toronto)
October (Ottawa)

The Inside Out Film and Video Festival, also known as the Inside Out LGBT or LGBTQ Film Festival,[1][2] is an annual Canadian film festival, which presents a program of LGBT-related film.[3] The festival is staged in both Toronto and Ottawa.[4] Founded in 1991, the festival is now the largest of its kind in Canada.[5] Deadline dubbed it "Canada’s foremost LGBTQ film festival."[6]

The organization also presents a series of film screenings throughout the year outside of the dedicated festival, as well as a touring program of short film screenings in smaller towns and cities within Southern Ontario. The organization's current executive director is Lauren Howes, who succeeded Andria Wilson in 2021.[7]

Toronto LGBT Film Festival

First held at Toronto's Euclid Theatre in 1991,[8] Inside Out celebrated its festival with a small community of people who yearned to see film and video created by and about lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. The festival was briefly the subject of controversy in 1993, when Metro Toronto council refused an arts grant to support the 1994 festival on the grounds of "community standards", even though the council had given grants to the festival in both 1991 and 1992 without issue.[9] The festival was able to make up the lost funding that year when numerous arts organizations in the city, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Toronto International Film Festival, the National Ballet School, Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, and the Danny Grossman Dance Company made donations to the festival.[10]

The festival has since expanded to incorporate a variety of programs related to the promotion and development of LGBT films and filmmakers in Canada.[11] Currently the largest event of its kind in Canada,[5] Deadline dubbed it "Canada’s foremost LGBTQ film festival."[6] Previously staged at a variety of venues in Toronto,[12] the festival is now staged at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.[13]

Since 2009, RBC Royal Bank has served as the presenting sponsor of the Toronto Festival.[14] The festival bills itself as "a not-for-profit registered charity that exists to challenge attitudes and change lives through the promotion, production and exhibition of film made by and about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people of all ages, races and abilities."[14]

In 2016, a number of local activists launched the Toronto Queer Film Festival, an alternative intended for filmmakers and audiences who perceive Inside Out's current programming as too commercialized and mainstream.[15]

In March 2020, the festival organizers announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, the 2020 festival, normally scheduled for May, would be postponed to October.[16] In July, they announced that the Toronto and Ottawa events would be combined into a single digital event.[17] Due to the unique online nature of the event, the winners of the juried awards were announced at the beginning of the festival, as a tool to help publicize the winners during the festival,[18] although audience-voted awards were still announced after the festival's conclusion.

The 2021 festival returned to the event's traditional scheduling in late May, although it was still staged online. The event was available to viewers throughout Ontario; the films in the Spotlight on Canada program were screened for free through a sponsorship agreement with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.[19]

The online platform that was used for both the 2020 and 2021 festivals is also planned to remain in permanent operation, both as a year-round distribution platform for LGBTQ films and as an additional accessibility option once the festival is able to return to traditional physical screenings.[7]

Ottawa LGBT Film Festival

In 2007, the Inside Out festival expanded to Ottawa,[20] soon after the demise of the city's earlier Making Scenes Film and Video Festival.[21] Originally presented at the ByTowne Cinema, since 2016 the event has been staged at the National Gallery of Canada.[22]

In 2009, the festival faced controversy when the Canada Border Services Agency impounded prints of the films Patrik, Age 1.5, I Can't Think Straight, and Clapham Junction that were en route to the festival, even though all three films had previously been screened elsewhere in Canada without incident.[23]

Other programs

In addition to the annual film festival events, the Inside Out organization also offers a number of dedicated training and funding programs to foster the creation of LGBT-themed film in Canada.

In 1998, with the support of Charles Street Video, Inside Out initiated the Queer Video Mentorship Project to provide opportunities for youth to learn video production in a supportive atmosphere.[24] Queer youth under the age of 25 are mentored through the process of making their first videos, from storyboarding and shooting to post-production and editing. In celebration of the festival's 20th anniversary in 2010, Inside Out expanded this into a multi-generational program bringing together LGBT youth and seniors over the age of 55. To date, close to 100 new artists have created work through the project.[citation needed] The works are screened at the festival and many go on to play at festivals around the globe. Each year, the works are compiled and distributed free to schools and community organizations.[citation needed]

In 2001, Inside Out launched the inaugural John Bailey Film and Video Completion Fund. Named in recognition of the contribution of a longtime Inside Out supporter and advisory board member, the fund awards grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 to Canadian filmmakers with work in the final stages of production.[citation needed]

Inaugurated in 2002, the Mark S. Bonham Scholarship for Queer Studies in Film and Video awards a $5,000 cash scholarship to a Canadian student who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, to pursue post-secondary studies in the field of film or video.[25] The first scholarship was awarded in September 2002 to Adam Garnet Jones from Vancouver.[citation needed] Subsequent recipients were Mary Fogarty, Christopher Sanchez, Jung Kim, Cam Matamoros, Jo Simalaya Alcampo, Rachel Smyth, and Jordan Tannahill.[citation needed]

In 2018, the festival launched the Focus Fund to support work by LGBTQ female and non-binary filmmakers.[26] It also organizes an annual Finance Forum, providing an opportunity for emerging filmmakers to pitch LGBT-related projects in development to potential production funders.[27]

In 2019, the festival partnered with streaming service Crave as a branding partner on the service's new portal for LGBTQ film and television content,[28] as well as launching a partnership with Netflix to support the development and funding of new LGBTQ-oriented film and television content in Canada.[29]

In 2020, through the Focus Fund, the festival launched a special emergency relief fund, offering grants of up to $2,500 to projects impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.[30] The festival was also one of the key partners, alongside Outfest Los Angeles, the Frameline Film Festival, and the New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival, in launching the North American Queer Festival Alliance, an initiative to further publicize and promote LGBT film.[31]

Inside Out Arts Endowment Fund

The Inside Out Arts Endowment Fund was established in December 2001 through the Ontario Arts Foundation to provide a stable base of funding for Inside Out in the future.[citation needed] The fund was created thanks to a generous founding gift from Mark Bonham of $200,000, and it is currently valued at close to $300,000.[citation needed] Supporters of Inside Out can make tax-deductible donations specifically to the Endowment Fund.[citation needed]


Audience Award for Best Feature Film

Audience Award for Best Short Film

Best Canadian Film

Best First Feature Film (Bill Sherwood Award)

Best Documentary

Best Canadian Short Film

Emerging Canadian Artist

See also


  1. ^ Kay, Jeremy (2020-05-23). "Digital events to mark 30th anniversary of Inside Out LGBT festival (exclusive)". Screen. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  2. ^ "Toronto's Inside Out LGBTQ film festival postponed to October". Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  3. ^ Warner, Tom (2002). "Inside Out Film and Video Festival". Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada. Toronto, Ont.: University of Toronto Press. pp. 334–335. ISBN 9781442677623. OCLC 288096774.
  4. ^ Joceline Andersen, "From the Ground Up: Transforming the Inside Out LGBT Film and Video Festival of Toronto". Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Volume 21 Issue 1, March 2012, pp. 38-57.
  5. ^ a b "Netflix, Inside Out team on initiative to support Canadian LGBTQ filmmakers". Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  6. ^ a b Ramos, Dino-Ray (2020-07-09). "Inside Out LGBTQ Film Festival Unveils Recipients For Re:Focus Emergency Relief Fund". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  7. ^ a b Barry Hertz, "Toronto’s Inside Out attempts a 2021 film festival like no other". The Globe and Mail, May 24, 2021.
  8. ^ "Film news". The Globe and Mail, March 22, 1991.
  9. ^ "Committee refuses appeal on aid cut to gay film festival". The Globe and Mail, December 1, 1993.
  10. ^ "Gay filmfest kicks off". The Globe and Mail, May 28, 1994.
  11. ^ Anderson, Jason (May 21, 2015). "Inside Out film festival celebrates 25th anniversary". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  12. ^ DeMara, Bruce (May 19, 2010). "Film fest explores gay, lesbian history". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  13. ^ Wilner, Norman (May 4, 2018). "Inside Out announces 2018 lineup". Now.
  14. ^ a b "Inside Out". Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  15. ^ Chris Dupuis, "How one local festival wants to bring queer back to Toronto". Daily Xtra, June 21, 2016.
  16. ^ Kevin Ritchie, "Inside Out film festival postponed over coronavirus concerns". Now, March 25, 2020.
  17. ^ Norman Wilner, "Inside Out 2020 is happening (online) in October". Now, July 28, 2020.
  18. ^ a b c d e "Inside Out LGBT film fest reveals prize winners early". Toronto Star, October 5, 2020.
  19. ^ Jeremy Kay, "'Language Lessons' to open Toronto’s Inside Out". Screen Daily, May 3, 2021.
  20. ^ "Gay ghosts premiere at film fest; Poltergay will appeal to all audiences, says festival director". Ottawa Citizen, October 24, 2007.
  21. ^ "Festival comes out with more movies". Kingston Whig-Standard, January 12, 2005.
  22. ^ "Five films not to miss at Inside Out 2017, Ottawa’s LGBT film festival". Daily Xtra, November 6, 2017.
  23. ^ "Ottawa film festival upset after gay-themed films seized at border". Canadian Press, November 22, 2009.
  24. ^ "Coming out at Inside Out festival". National Post, May 14, 2005.
  25. ^ Winsa, Patty (December 23, 2018). "Mark Bonham calls himself a financial 'punk.' Here's why he's now raising money for LGBTQ causes". Toronto Star.
  26. ^ Olsen, Deidre (June 4, 2018). "New fund supports LGBTQ women and non-binary filmmakers". Now.
  27. ^ Leo Barraclough, "Inside Out LGBTQ Film Festival Reveals Finance Forum Lineup". Variety, May 8, 2020.
  28. ^ "Crave puts spotlight on LGBTQ content". Playback, May 1, 2019.
  29. ^ "With a little help from Netflix, Inside Out is opening major doors for the future of LGTBQ stories". CBC Arts, May 23, 2019.
  30. ^ Kelly Townsend, "Inside Out launches emergency relief funding for LGBTQ projects". Playback, May 12, 2020.
  31. ^ Jeff Ewing, "Major LGBTQ Film Festivals Partner To Create The ‘North American Queer Festival Alliance’ (NAQFA)". Forbes, June 17, 2020.
  32. ^ a b c d e "Sijie Dai film named Best Feature at Inside Out fest". The Globe and Mail, May 29, 2007.
  33. ^ a b c d e "Inside Out Film Festival winners". National Post, June 1, 2010.
  34. ^ a b c d "Margarita grabs audience award at Inside Out Festival". Playback, June 1, 2012.
  35. ^ a b c d e f "What We Have takes best Canadian feature at Inside Out". Playback, June 1, 2015.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g "Closet Monster Wins at Inside Out". Northern Stars, June 7, 2016.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g "Rebels on Pointe takes best Canadian feature at Inside Out". Playback, June 6, 2017.
  38. ^ a b c d e "'White Rabbit' wins 2018 Inside Out LGBT Film Festival audience award". Screen Daily, June 4, 2018.
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h "Billie And Emma wins audience award at Inside Out 2019". Now, June 3, 2019.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g Amber Dowling (June 7, 2021). "Fanny: The Right to Rock nabs Best Canadian Feature at Inside Out". Playback.
  41. ^ a b c d "Weekly roundup: distribution, awards and funding news". Playback, June 7, 2013.
  42. ^ "Stacey Donen: Hoping for discovery". Playback, July 6, 2009.
  43. ^ "Inside Out fest names Sugar best feature". Toronto Star, May 31, 2004.

Coordinates: 43°38′48″N 79°23′25″W / 43.64659°N 79.39035°W / 43.64659; -79.39035