Montréal a production hub for LGBTQ-themed films and web-series

Richard Burnett

Montréal has been a choice LGBTQ destination for generations, notably for artists who helped morph the city into a queer mecca by the late 20th century. Today, the city is home to a vibrant LGBTQ arts community that has also become a production hub for LGBTQ-themed films and web-series such as Venus, The Walk-In Closet and Féminin / Féminin.

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Venus is the heartfelt story of a South Asian transgender woman who sees her life flipped on its head when she meets a “white” teenaged son she didn’t know she had. Montréal film director Eisha Marjara casts off gender stereotypes in this star-studded made-in-Montréal feature film that features – along with its mostly Montréal cast and crew – British actor Gordon Warnecke, who rose to fame starring opposite Daniel Day Lewis in the groundbreaking 1985 gay cult movie My Beautiful Launderette.

Venus today is what My Beautiful Launderette did for gay representation in the 1980s,” says the film’s out producer Joe Balass. “It opened things up for people of colour and multiple identities, and Venus is a 21st century version of that.”

The superb ensemble cast also features American actor Debargo Sanyal (in the lead role); Canadians Zena Daruwalla, Judy Virago and Peter Miller (the former CFL footballer best known his role in the 2003 coming out Italian Canadian comedy Mambo Italiano); as well as Montrealers Amber Goldfarb, Jamie Mayers, C.T. Thorne and Pierre-Yves Cardinal (best-known for his role as Francis in Xavier Dolan’s film Tom à la Ferme).

Executive-produced by high-profile filmmaker Kevin Tierney, the award-winning Venus opens theatrically in Montréal (in its English original version at Cineplex Forum and with French sub-titles at Cinema du Parc) on March 2. Much of the cast will attend the March 2 screening at Cinema du Parc and then the March 3 screening at Cineplex Forum.


The Walk-In Closet

The Walk-in Closet is a sitcom-style web-series about a lesbian stand-up comic and a gay male ballet dancer who get engaged and play straight to get Canadian citizenship.

The colourful cast features some of Montréal’s funniest comedians and actors “who are all part of our LGBTQIA+ family” – such familiar faces as Tranna Wintour, Rachel Gendron, Kit McKeown, Trevor Barrette and Dane Stewart, as well as Katharine King (who also directs the series) and, in the lead roles, Dakota Jamal Wellman and Natalie Liconti, who co-created the series with King. The cast also features Adam Capriolo, Martha Graham, Maxine Segalowitz and Ndakudzwa Mazhude.

The web series is a small self-funded passion project promoting emerging Montréal talent: female, non-binary and trans performers, filmmakers and comedians.

“It was really cool creating this series in Montréal,” says director Katharine King. “The process of working with all of these queer and trans artists was very natural. This project would have been completely different had it been made in any other city and I really do think Montréal shapes the feel and scope of it. This city has a lot of progressive institutions and universities that foster and support queer and trans artists in relatively safe spaces.”

King says the web series also wants to transform the male gaze into a queer, femme one.

The Walk-In Closet can be viewed on Vimeo.

Féminin / Féminin

Féminin / Féminin is a French Canadian web series with English sub-titles about the lives of some 10 lesbian and bisexual women living in Montréal. Originally created in 2014 by director Chloé Robichaud and Florence Gagnon, president and founder of the website and magazine LSTW (Lez Spread the Word), the entire new 2018 second season is now available for streaming on ICI

When it first debuted, Robichaud stated, “This is a series about love between women. I hope that in these women, many will see their own realities, whether homosexual or not.”

The terrific second-season ensemble cast features Alexa-Jeanne Dubé, Eve Duranceau, Eliane Gagnon, Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse, Kimberly Laferrière, Emilie Leclerc Côté, Marie-Evelyne Lessard, Macha Limonchik, Noémie Yelle.

Féminin / Féminin can be viewed on ICI

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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