Living with your parents can be a drag. Matt Salton, festival director of Calgary’s Fairytales International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, disagrees. He has nothing but praise for the film festival’s parent organization, the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, but is still excited to have left the nest.
This summer, on the heels of its most successful festival to date, the Fairytales board of directors decided to hire a full time director and open an office. This month the office officially opened on the queerest street in town, 17th Avenue.
“I am thrilled to create this step forward for Fairytales,” says Salton. “It’s a step in the right direction — a place where the community can come and see where we are and to get involved.”
“We just completed our 10th year as a festival and our membership, volunteer base and audience are all growing,” he says. “In a city of a million people, Fairytales could not continue to operate as a grassroots organization.”
Fairytales is shacked up in a shared space with the local queer community centre: Calgary Outlink Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Salton says living with Calgary Outlink is an ideal relationship.
“We are both trying to increase our visibility in the queer community and develop audiences for our programming, so we are a good fit,” he explains. “Now that we have our own space we are going to develop a lending library of queer film and queer film related books for education in the community. Outlink already has a video library and we plan to develop it further.”
Salton says he is enthusiastic about the office’s location.
“If Calgary was to have a gay village, 17th Avenue is the closest thing to it,” he says. “This particular building we are in houses many queer organizations and businesses and gets a lot of queer and queer-allied traffic.”
As traffic to Fairytales increases so does their plan for more staff and new programs. The Festival plans to present year-round film programming, take the festival on the road to rural Alberta and expand programming to other cultural genres.
“We hope to increase Calgary’s visibility internationally — we are not just cowboys and rednecks,” says Salton. “Alberta is home to many dynamic queer artists, and we are going to champion them.”