Film & Video
2 min

Crazy8s asks: What if Cinderella were a drag queen?

The Twisted Slipper offers a fresh take on a classic tale of magical yearning

From Disney to Whitney to Hilary — we can’t get enough of the Cinderella story. Since its first film adaptation in 1899 to the soon-to-be-released Kenneth Branagh feature, variations have ranged from the sublime (Drew Barrymore, Ever After — don’t judge me) to the ridiculous (Jerry Lewis, Cinderfella).

On Feb 28, as part of the 2015 Crazy8s film gala (beating Branagh to the punch by a slender two weeks), Vancouver filmmakers Angie Nolan, Sharai Rewels and Katie Schaitel will screen The Twisted Slipper — a queer take on this perennial favourite.

Crazy8s is an annual, juried eight-day filmmaking challenge. This year, of a record-breaking 196 submissions, six teams were awarded funds and mentoring to each create their own short film.

The twist in Nolan, Schaitel and Rewels’ The Twisted Slipper is that their young hero dreams not only of escaping the drudgery of his evil stepmother’s coffee shop, but of doing so in lipstick and heels. On the eve of the highly anticipated ball hosted by the breathtakingly eligible Mr Gavin Charming, poor Cinder yearns to rise from indentured barista to incandescent diva.

For Nolan, every aspect of bringing her idea to screen through Crazy8s has been magical. “It’s been an honour working with the drag community. I’ve learned so much and I’m in complete awe,” she says. “And from a purely creative perspective, there’s nothing more aesthetically appealing on camera than a beautiful young drag queen. Adam DiMarco brings such an authentically sweet quality to Cinder.”

In the pivotal role of Destiny, Cinder’s fairydrag mother, is actor and comedian David C Jones.

“She just had to be played by David,” Nolan says. Jones saw the role as more of a challenge. “The character was written for a very specific type and I was a bit of a wild card,” he explains. “I tried to create something that would fit their vision, but was something I could do.” 

According to Nolan, he succeeded. “From the audition room to the screen, his commitment and courage to this larger-than-life character has been nothing less than amazing.”

“I loved everything about the experience,” Jones says. “The long hours, the complicated shoot — I got to do my first stunt in a film. In four inch heels! And it’s a tender look at a real issue wrapped in a very funny and spectacularly realized film.”

“The thought of anyone in this day and age feeling repressed or bullied for who they are just absolutely breaks my heart,” Nolan says. “If we can tell this drag story from the outside looking in, that’s a really interesting perspective on tolerance and acceptance.”

And the moral of the story? “Love and sass will nurture the queens of tomorrow,” Jones says.

The Twisted Slipper and the five other 2015 Crazy8s films will be presented at the gala screening on Saturday, Feb 28 at 7pm at The Centre, 777 Homer St.

Top photo: Adam DiMarco (centre) stars as Cinder with his wicked stepmother and stepsisters in The Twisted Slipper, premiering Feb 28. Photo by: Crazy8s/Matt Walker