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Future of Ottawa's queer film festival in question

IDENTITY CRISIS. With queer images increasingly visible in the mainstream, Making Scenes executive director Dan Grummisch wonders how the festival should serve the community. Credit: Capital Xtra files

Making Scenes 2004 is in limbo.



Ottawa’s annual queer film and video festival is looking to change – but what that could mean for the future of the 11-year-old festival is not clear.



No dates are set and no venues are booked for the usual September festival. In December, the festival closed its office at Arts Court and donated its archive collection to the Kelly McGinnis Library at Pink Triangle Services (PTS).



“I don’t think that the festival as we know it is in any real jeopardy at this point and I wouldn’t press any panic buttons at this stage,” says Ted Buglas, president of the festival’s board.



“But definitely there is some exploration and some decision-making that needs to happen,” says Buglas.



But if events were to be scheduled, it’s unclear who would be responsible. Buglas says the executive is in transition and the board is on hiatus.



“There have been a number of months since the board has been actively meeting,” says Buglas. “So I’ve been working with [Making Scenes executive director] Dan Grummisch, primarily the two of us, for the moment.”



But how long can this period of uncertainty last before this year’s festival is in jeopardy?



Buglas says that question is a difficult one to answer – but that he and Grummisch are not prepared to say that this year’s festival is cancelled.



“There are any number of possibilities open, but there is no final decision,” says Buglas. “The festival has traditionally run a batch of screenings in the fall but the format of those screenings has been changed, modified slightly, over the years.”



And while Grummisch and Buglas agree that the executive director and the board will change, they don’t agree on what the festival organization will look like following the transition.



Grummisch says the festival will likely “wind things down and have a festival coordinator” rather than an executive director or programming director. Buglas says only that there will be a new executive director.



“We’re hoping to steer for more community-based fundraising, working with other organizations,” says Grummisch, mentioning the Pride Committee and PTS as possible partners.



Robin Duetta, executive director of the Pride Committee, says he’s had preliminary talks with representatives from the festival about its future.



“We’re certainly [open to] helping them out,” says Duetta. “We may end up piggybacking with them. It’s too important an event to let it go.”



But Grummisch says changing times may make it necessary for the festival to find a new raison d’etre, citing increased sources of queer visibility as yet another challenge facing the festival.



“What we want to do – and what the festival was originally designed to do – was present queer images, but you see those all over the place now,” says Grummisch.



Buglas also sees the festival struggling with how to serve the community.



But how or if the festival will adjust to its organizational woes and the growing currency of queer images remains to be seen.