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INSIDE OUT FILM FESTIVAL –– TORONTO
Redheads are hot. Television series such as Riverdale and CBC’s Anne are filling our screens with images of ginger glory. But gay Toronto comic Shawn Hitchins has made flame-haired world domination his mission for years.
Ginger Nation documents Hitchins’ humorous and heartfelt one-man show (of the same name) as the affable entertainer recounts his experience as a sperm donor to his lesbian friends. Hitchins’ spunky storytelling effortlessly weaves tales from his adolescence and his brushes with celebrity as a stand-up comic with bizarre tales of turkey basters and masturbating in increasingly suspect bathrooms.
But Hitchins also reveals an unexpected and touching vulnerability as he examines what it means, as a gay man, to become a biological father, fearful that his ginger DNA will produce a child who experiences the same isolation that Hitchins did when he was growing up.
Filmed by Mich Fillion (Southern Souls), the back-to-back performances that make up the final footage in Ginger Nation were shot continuously and without prior rehearsal, in order to capture the natural idiosyncrasies of live theatre. The result is an immediate interpretation of a well-crafted and exercised performance. Fillion’s expert eye for capturing live musicians finds a natural ease with comedy and allows the storytelling to shine in this intimate piece about modern parenting.