Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Calgary’s Fairytales Film Fest launches May 28

Two-spirit focus at this year's queer film fest

MANIFESTO. Filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones' Secret Weapons will be featured at a night of two-spirit films.

Matt Salton, the festival director of the 11th Fairytales International Queer Diversity Film Festival, has been running flat out for the last week dealing with the final flourishes of what he describes as Calgary’s cultural “queer’a’palooza.”

Over 90 films will play between May 28 and Jun 6, opening with Canadian director Alison Reid’s Baby Formula, a pseudo-mockumentary about lesbians taking men out of the fertility equation, and ending with queer festival circuit darling, The New Twenty, from American director Chris Mason Johnson. In addition this year’s festival will focus on queer aboriginal filmmakers, with a special night of discussion and film screenings titled The Secret Weapons Manifesto.

“Our primary objective for this year is to increase the visibility of two-spirited, Canadian film and video artists and the representation of two-spirit peoples depicted in film and video,” explains Salton. “The title of the project is derived from director Adam Garnet Jones’ video installation piece, Secret Weapons, which in effect is a call-to-action for the marginalized to stand up and be noticed — to be each other’s ‘secret weapon’ against oppression.”

Several two-spirited filmmakers from across Canada will be arriving in Calgary this week to take part in a panel discussion and attend the numerous two-spirit screenings with the goal of then drafting what will be known as “The Secret Weapons Manifesto,” an actual written manifesto that can be distributed to artist-run-centres, production houses, film distributors, and other queer festivals with the intent on increasing the exposure of two-spirited persons to the broader community.

In a 21st century twist, audiences will be able to watch a live internet stream of the panel discussion through local community broadcaster NUTV, on Tue, Jun 2 at 7pm Mountain Standard Time (

“I think this program is an example of what Fairytales does best — providing artists an opportunity to dialogue with other artists in a public arena about the aesthetics of queer film and video here in Canada. Over the past few years, thanks to the generosity of the Canada Council for the Arts we have been able to entertain dozens of queer artists from across the country to share their thoughts and dreams with the public, giving us a unique look into the process of making movies with a subversive agenda,” adds Salton.

Current political debates over changes to provincial human rights legislation could be another agenda at the festival. Calgarians have noted that the timing of the festival in relation to Alberta’s Bill 44 is providential.

“Our mission is to create dialogue and social change through the exhibition of film and video,” says Salton. “Fairytales is in a unique geographical position cradled deep in the conservative heartland of Canada and the need for a large-scale vehicle for the queer community to feel valued and empowered is probably greatest here than anywhere else in the country. We do not have a political agenda, per se, but lots can happen when a few thousand queers gather together over ten days.”