Telling Our Stories
Young lesbian lovers, drag queens, sugar daddies, and gay dinosaur dads! Those are just some of the inspiring and diverse queer characters coming to screens in exciting new film, TV, and videogame projects by Canadian 2SLGBTQIA+ creators.
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) knows that sharing queer stories with audiences has never been more important. From children’s programs to documentaries to comedies to heartfelt dramas, here are 11 must-see projects fueled by the CMF that you don’t want to miss!
What happens when a great script, amazing actors, and a timely story come together? You get Queen Tut, a heartfelt dramedy that sees newly arrived Egyptian immigrant Nabil (Ryan Ali) mourning the loss of his mother but finding solace with Malibu (Alexandra Billings), a trans drag mother who befriends him. Malibu is about to lose her queer bar due to “renoviction,” so the pair unite to save the club. Billings (Transparent) also serves as the film’s executive producer and told Deadline, “This is a film about family. About chosen family and birthed family and the historic value of queer revolution.”
Queen Tut is the latest offering from award-winning production company Fae Pictures (Framing Agnes, In Flames), whose mission is “to decolonize Hollywood by creating cinematic content for, by, and about queer, trans, and BIPOC people.” Oh, and did we mention the film’s choreography is by no other than superstar Hollywood Jade?
Look for Queen Tut on CRAVE beginning in January 2024.
I HATE PEOPLE, PEOPLE HATE ME
Sardonic, bitchy, and oh-so funny, comedian Bobbi Summers and actor/writer Lily Makowski star in this digital series that sees the two twentysomething queer friends navigating a world that doesn’t appreciate their talents or their brutally honest opinions. Director Blake Mawson, who made waves with his award-winning short film PYOTR495 and for directing queer country star Orville Peck’s video “Hope to Die,” goes behind the camera for what is sure to be 2023’s most off-beat queer TV offering.
I Hate People, People Hate Me will air on CBC Gem later this year.
SUGAR HIGHS: SEASON 2
Roommates Bud (Adam Fox), Tab (Joey Beni), and Mickey (Samuel Davison) return in the second season of Sugar Highs, but this time around the trio of sugar babies want more out of life than what their sugar daddies (and mommies) can offer. Actor Adam Fox says the new season is exciting because “there is a breadth and freedom in tone, which leaves room for the show to go in various directions as it continues forward … in Season 2, the characters are all more fully developed.”
Nova Scotia’s Thom Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden, Stage Mother) returns as the show’s writer/director, as does Scott Thompson, who plays Bud’s besotted daddy.
Sugar Highs: Season 2 will be available on OUTtv later this year.
SATAN WANTS YOU
Vancouver filmmakers and gay power couple Steve J. Adams and Sean Horlor’s documentary Satan Wants You brings us face to face with evil, but not the kind you may imagine.
The “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s began with Victoria, B.C. native Michelle Smith and her psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Pazder releasing the book Michelle Remembers, which recounts Smith’s abuse at the hands of satanic worshippers. In memories recovered by Pazder, Smith claimed babies were sacrificed and eaten, and countless children tortured and abused.
"Queer people were the frequent targets of false satanic ritual abuse rumours and some were convicted during the Satanic Panic," says Sean Horlor. "Many had their lives ruined and some were even imprisoned for made-up crimes that they never committed."
"This is why it was important for us to set the record straight for how this global mass delusion started," adds co-director Steve J. Adams. "What's scary is that we're seeing the same kinds of false rumours targeting the drag community and transgender community today."
This documentary uses previously unheard audio tapes of Smith and Pazder’s sessions to show how deeply problematic their relationship was (the two eventually married), and how the media, law enforcement, and the public allowed the false narrative to take hold.
Satan Wants You screened at both the SXSW and Toronto Hot Docs film festivals. It will be available on various streaming sites in 2023.
YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER
It’s the early 1990s and gay teenager Jaime (Anwen O’Driscoll) is sent to live with Jehovah’s Witness relatives after the death of her father. She falls for the devout Marike (June Laporte), and the couple must hide their blossoming feelings for one another. Directors Sarah Watts and Mark Slutsky crafted a nuanced and painfully honest look at young gay love, with the two leads giving wonderfully tender performances. The film was inspired by Watts’ experience growing up queer in a Jehovah’s Witness community.
You Can Live Forever is available across various streaming platforms.
Children’s programming is about so much more than simply entertaining kids. A good show interweaves lessons in empathy, tolerance, diversity, and kindness—and that’s what makes Dino Ranch so great, especially the GLAAD Media Award-winning episode “Adoptasaurus Rex.” In this episode, junior dino ranchers Jon, Min, and Miguel help two T-Rex dinosaurs find an egg that they can hatch so they can be dads to their very own dino baby. Presented without fuss and with such joy, the message is crystal clear: love is what makes a family.
Dino Ranch streams on CBC and Disney Junior.
Our screens are inundated with images of able-bodied people, and that includes queer folks. The docuseries Push gives us a glimpse into the lives of an underrepresented population: a group of disabled friends in Edmonton who’ve named themselves the “Wheelie Peeps.” The group includes Aleem Jaffer, who lives with his able-bodied husband Nick. We see Aleem and Nick negotiate travel around the city, cooking for relatives, and sharing their wedding video, making for a heartfelt portrayal of a queer couple.
Push screens on CBC and CBC GEM.
SUPPORTING OUR SELVES
Throughout history, the queer community has needed to take care of its own. Director Lulu Wei’s documentary looks at the origins of the Community One Foundation, founded back in 1980 as the Gay Community Appeal. The AIDS crisis helped define this philanthropic organization, which has grown in the last 40 years to support hundreds of charitable causes within the community.
Supporting Our Selves is available across various streaming platforms.
THE MODEL FIGURES
Have you ever wondered what Mona Lisa is smiling about? This documentary series probes the minds of models who pose for figurative paintings. 30 men strip naked to pose for drawings and paintings, and share with the audience at home what it feels like to be immortalized in art. A figure study in vulnerability and masculinity, and diary of a figurative artist.
The series will air on OUTtv in 2024.
GLITCHHIKERS: THE SPACES BETWEEN
Gay videogame designer Lucas J.W. Johnson teamed with queer and transgender storyteller Claris Cyarron to form Silverstring Media with the idea to shake up the gaming industry. The Vancouver-based studio did just that with Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between, a meditative game that has players journey through quiet spaces, contemplating their place in the world and conversing with “glitchhikers.” The game is about sharing life stories, including those from queer characters who have been sorely underrepresented in video games for too long.
Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between is available on various gaming platforms.
THE LAST COMMUNION
God works in mysterious ways in this new series. When their monastery is sold, three monks must reinvent their lives. It turns out the modern world is more challenging than a silent retreat, and a whole lot more fun. For monk Paul, played by the great Guy Jodoin, his new reality means finally coming out and jumping feet first into a gay paradise on Earth.
La Dernière Communion is currently in production and will air next year on Télé-Québec.