Inside Out Reveals Finance Forum Projects and Exec Participants (EXCLUSIVE)

Rain Valdez attends the premiere of
Rain Valdez's 'Re-Live' is in the Finance Forum (Courtesy of Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Inside Out, Canada’s largest 2SLGBTQ+ film festival and single largest promoter and distributor of 2SLGBTQ+ content in Canada, has announced eight new feature film projects that will participate in the festival’s fifth annual Finance Forum during the festival’s 31st year.

The Finance Forum, taking place online from May 31-June 4, during the festival (running May 27-June 6), will provide 2SLGBTQ+-identified producers and/or producers creating 2SLGBTQ+ content an opportunity to pitch their projects directly to top decision makers. All participating executives will be taking one-on-one meetings online with the creative teams.

Among those taking part are executives from the U.S.’s Neon, Bleecker Street, Killer Films, Cinetic Media, The Film Collaborative, Verve, Powderkeg Media, Little Punk, Symbolic Exchange, Chicago Media Angels, and GLAAD; the U.K.’s Protagonist Pictures and Bankside Films; France’s MK2 Films; Germany’s Films Boutique; and Canada’s CBC Films and WaZabi Films.

A few highlights from the projects this year include:

● The drama “Something You Said Last Night” from writer/director Luis De Filippis, whose short film “For Nonna Anna” won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, as well as the Emerging Director Award at Inside Out. The film, which follows a trans woman who joins her family on vacation in the country, is being produced by Jessica Adams, Michael Graf, Rhea Plangg, Michela Pini and De Filippis, and executive produced by Kevin Chinoy and Francesca Silvestri (“Tangerine,” “The Florida Project”) and Jennifer Konawal (“Zola”).

● The mystery comedy “Acts of Thievery,” from director Sam Peter Jackson and producer Silvia Felce (production coordinator on HBO’s “The Nevers,” “Game of Thrones”), is about a gay couple who attempt to spice up their relationship and end up in a game of cat and mouse with a burglar. Actors Stephen Fry (“V for Vendetta,” “The Hobbit”) and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (“Mary Poppins Returns,” “Paddington 2”) are attached in supporting roles.

● The dramatic comedy “Loco Parentis,” from writer-director Matthew Jacobs Morgan, who was mentored by director/playwright John Cameron Mitchell as a part of 4Screenwriting and the BFI Flare mentorship program. The comedy, which deals with friendship and family for a queer Black man who falls in with a group of privileged white moms, is being produced by Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor, who focuses on Black, queer and female-led content.

● The romantic comedy “Re-Live: A Tale of An American Island Cheerleader” comes from Emmy-nominated writer-director Rain Valdez (“Razor Tongue,” “Transparent”), who was the winner of Inside Out’s annual “Pitch, Please!” contest in 2019 for a short film version of “Re-Live,” along with producer Shant Joshi (“Porcupine Lake”), which finds a transgender actress with the ability to re-do her high-school experience and fulfill her childhood dream of being a cheerleader.

“We are ecstatic to connect eight incredible and diverse projects with some of the world’s key industry executives invested in producing and financing queer work for our fifth edition of the Forum; the second to be entirely online,” Andrew Murphy, director of programming said. “As we celebrate the successful completion and release of several Forum alumni, with at least three more films going to camera in 2021, we are driven and dedicated to providing space and opportunities to our 2SLGBTQ+ communities and their storytellers.”

Now in its fifth year, a number of the Finance Forum’s past project participants have gone on to success. Projects released in 2020 include Sam Feder’s documentary “Disclosure,” which looked at the depiction of transgender people and experiences throughout the history of film and television, was executive-produced by Emmy nominated trans actress Laverne Cox, and was picked up and released by Netflix. Also released in 2020 was Mike Mosallam’s romantic comedy “Breaking Fast,” starring Haaz Sleiman (“Jack Ryan”) and Michael Cassidy (“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”), and Phil Connell’s “Jump, Darling,” starring Academy Award winner Cloris Leachman in her final role. A project selection from 2019, Jason Karman’s “Golden Delicious,” just finished principal photography in March, and is now in post-production.

Three alumni Forum projects that are planned to shoot this year include Gary Jaffe’s and Katie Ennis’ “Our Last Summer,” which was picked up by U.S. sale outfit The Exchange, with Alan Ball (“Six Feet Under,” “True Blood,” “Uncle Frank”) signing on as executive producer, Trevor Anderson’s “Before I Change My Mind,” which was selected for the 2020 GLAAD List – a curated list of the 10 most promising LGBTQ+ inclusive screenplays in Hollywood as determined by GLAAD and The Black List, and “Glitter and Doom,” a 2020 project by SPEAKproductions that is directed/produced by Tom Gustafson, and written/produced by Cory Krueckeberg (“Were the World Mine”).

The forum is being produced by Jan Nathanson, who produced Ontario Creates’ International Film Festival from 2007-2018 and now acts as senior consultant for them.

The full lineup of selected projects is included below:
Director: Sam Peter Jackson, Producer: Silvia Felce
Logline: Gay couple Tom and Alasdair attempt to spice up their overly comfortable relationship when they become entangled in a game of cat and mouse with a local burglar.

Director: Matthew Jacobs Morgan, Producer: Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor
Logline: After being disinherited and falling in with a group of privileged white mums, a queer Black man learns that family is what you make it.

Director: Virginia Heath, Producers: Grant Keir, Nick Varley
Logline: A bold hybrid documentary that reveals Hollywood comedy star Mae West’s personal empathy with Queer and African American cultures in 1920s America, and celebrates why her controversial, ground-breaking work as a playwright, inspires artists and audiences today.

NEVERMAN (Canada/France)
Director: Rodrigo Barriuso, Producers: Quentin Worthington, Claire Gadéa, Rodrigo Barriuso
Logline: When dementia begins to progress, Lucia, a transgender woman living with Alzheimer’s under the neglect of a hostile caregiver, braces for the impending mental regression to a time before her transition. As the complexities of gender identity resurface she finds herself in a race against time to safeguard her right to a dignified existence.

Director: Rain Valdez, Producer: Shant Joshi
Logline: When 29-year-old transgender actress Rowena returns home to Guam to care for her mother, she is faced with an unexpected opportunity. Her high school is putting on a “Do-Over Week” for its 10-year reunion, and Rowena finally has the chance to live her childhood dream of becoming a cheerleader.

Director: Luis De Filippis, Producers: Jessica Adams, Michael Graf, Rhea Plangg, Michela Pini, Luis De Filippis
Logline: After being fired from her job, Ren reluctantly joins her Canadian-Italian family on vacation where she confronts the uneasiness of being trans on a beach, and her desire to break free from her suffocating family.

TOMGIRL (Australia)
Director: Vonne Patiag, Producers: Vonne Patiag, Maren Smith
Logline: In the 1990s, a migrant Filipino nurse, her cross-dressing brother and her half-Filipino son struggle to fit in as they attempt to build a sense of home in Australia.

Director: Jacquie Lawrence, Producer: Christine Alderson, Fizz Milton
Logline: When Maeve, an exuberant wife and mother, comes out as a Triple L (late life lesbian) at her 50th birthday party, the impact on her family and friends is chaotic, comedic and ultimately celebratory.