Back for its 19th year, Calgary’s annual Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival is one of Canada’s largest queer film festivals outside of Vancouver and Toronto, and features dozens of features, shorts and special events. To help navigate the tightly-packed festival schedule, a few of the folks that helped put it together have chosen some of their top picks for this year’s fest.
James Demers, executive director
This film is an outlier in that it is a heavily political horror movie. While the film is Canadian, it makes clear reference to the abuses suffered by LGBT people currently in Russia and takes its horror movie twist from real life events. Classic to the horror genre, the foreshadowing and symbolism is right on point — as is the excellent music score. A strong 15 minutes that will stick with you.
Two Hard Things, Two Soft Things
Erin Jenkins, operations manager
This documentary follows the first-ever Pride celebration in the Canadian arctic, held in the remote and isolated community of Nunavut. This film tells an unknown history, one that has been largely silenced and erased. The courage and tenacity of the activists, artists and politicians working to reclaim this lost identity is truly inspiring. A must-see for every Canadian.
Places of Fear and Hatred
Mel Fisher, intern
This Brazilian short film documents the stories of five people that have been discriminated due to their sexual orientations and gender identities. As a lusophone person, this movie affected me emotionally since it depicted cultural elements that I am very familiar with. I think this film is worth seeing, notably for the diversity of its cast but also because it raises international awareness about the situation of queer people in Brazil, a country in which churches accept pedophiles but still repeal homosexuals. Since Brazil is growing to become a potential superpower, laws must be changed in every Brazilian state to protect queer citizens from discrimination and ensure their safety.
Kennedy Enns, festival assistant
I’m most excited for the documentary, Check It. It’s a film about a gang of 14 to 22 year olds in DC who have created this friendship in order to defend themselves. I think the screening is going to be such an amazing experience. Plus we’re screening Bound right after and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night!”
Girl on Girl
Kerry-Leigh Fox, volunteer and social media coordinator
I really enjoy the documentaries! This festival gives us a glimpse into content made by, and for, queer people. The storylines that Hollywood feeds us have grown stale: background figures who end up isolated and dead. The films we have programmed this year give us characters at the centre of their own diverse stories, and nowhere is it more profoundly felt than in the documentaries offered up!
Girl on Girl in particular, highlights the emotional consequences of feminine lesbian invisibility— the phenomena in which, due to their feminine or “passing” appearance, countless LGBTQ women are rendered invisible and assumed to be straight by the outside world and to each other.
What’s beautiful and captivating about documentaries is that it combats some of that isolation we may feel in our own lives, perhaps when we cannot live them as openly and fully as we deserve. Seeing real people, seeing ourselves on screen is what continues to draw myself, and many others to the festival.