Lilies

Lilies (1996). The effortless shifts between the 2 settings - a Montréal prison in 1952 and a rural Québec town in 1912 - produce a magical, dreamlike atmosphere, one that inspires viewers to believe that anything can happen. Director John Greyson's film is based on the successful stage play Les Fleurettes, by Québec's Michel-Marc Bouchard, who participated in the screenplay. The story centres on an aging bishop (Marcel Sabourin) who visits a prison to hear a confession. However, he is confined himself and made to watch a play put on by the prisoners, and thereby forced to come to terms with his own past sins and desires. He witnesses a re-enactment of the ultimately horrendous events in his life as a cowardly homosexual teenager 40 years earlier, which resulted in the imprisonment of an innocent boy.

To his credit, Greyson exhibits enormous control over the melodramatic material, in effect normalizing the unconventional casting - all the major parts, regardless of gender, are played by men - and tempering the sensational elements of this unusual tale of revenge. It won the Grand Jury Prize for best narrative feature at the 1997 Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and also won Genie Awards for best picture (famously and unexpectedly over David Cronenberg's Crash), art direction, costumes and overall sound, and the Montréal World Film Festival Award for best Canadian film.