Seven years ago, Caitlyn Pascal staged a screening of Enough Man, an explicit documentary profiling trans men and their partners. It was from this initial showing that Divergence Movie Night (DMN) was born, and in the years since, DMN has acquired the rights to 83 films.
Yet now, this new mother and DJ is ready to move on. Pascal is looking for responsible and dedicated Ottawans to take the reins of the project into which she’s invested thousands of dollars of her own money.
It was her love of film that spurred DMN in 2006. While researching queer cinema she took notice of how expensive the rights to these films were and decided to hold showings open to the public so she could share the cost of the rights.
The decision to retire from DMN is not something Pascal takes lightly. She will continue to host her Pitch Black and Q-Bounce events and will be involved in our city’s queer community, but, she says, with a new baby in the house she has had to consider her options.
“I have to make a tough choice. I’ve done it for so long that I feel like I’ve done everything I’ve set out to do with it. It was never meant to be a grandiose, international endeavour. I look around and I’ve actually built something, something that is probably quite useful.”
The dozens of films Pascal has obtained over the years explore everything from addiction to the X-rated industry, and shelving the entire project isn’t an option, she says.
She admits that whoever takes over DMN will be tasked with the daunting chore of keeping up attendance, something she struggled with over the course of the years.
“It requires a time commitment, responsibility and constant enthusiasm,” she says. “To maximize the usage of the collection, you have to reach out to existing groups. We have films that cover topics that almost all groups would be interested in.”
Although DMN is currently in a partnership with PTS, where the organization hosts screenings within its own ranks, for the rights to remain valid, DMN cannot be absorbed into another group or organization.
Jason St-Laurent, of SAW Gallery, hopes DMN will live on after Pascal exits the project. He says the politically charged subject matter is something unique to Ottawa’s queer community.
“We talk about the gay community, and sometimes that can have a bit of an empty meaning without events like this,” he says. “These are the types of events that create community, whereas parties don’t necessarily do that. Something like Divergence is key to building community and making our struggles as queer people connect with other people’s struggles around the world.”
There are still a few events on the marquee before Pascal exits DMN. In September, a showing of The Heretics, a documentary about a 1970s feminist art collective, will be staged. Pascal would like her final screening to be a marathon of short films at Raw Sugar.
If you’re interested in taking on DMN, email Pascal at email@example.com.