A little over a year and a half ago, three friends sat down for a beer after a movie screening. They talked about the film, and then they started talking about film festivals. How they wished they could see more queer films. How there wasn’t a queer film festival in Halifax. And how they could make one happen.
Fast forward to June of this year, and Jenna Dufton, Krista Davis and Andria Wilson are all secured in their respective roles as programming manager, special projects manager and festival producer of the first OUTeast Queer Film Festival in Halifax.
For them, the festival is more than just a chance to screen films that they would want to see. It’s an opportunity to experience queer life in a different atmosphere. “We want people to have an awesome time with each other,” says Wilson. “We want conversations to happen. I want people to have an experience they maybe couldn’t have had otherwise in Halifax.”
Films in this year’s program include everything from shorts to documentaries and more. “Programming a festival in its first year was a bit of a guessing game,” says Dufton. “Basically our goal was to make a well-rounded program as much as we possibly could. I’m taking this year as a learning experience, for sure, to see what people like, and I am really excited to hear their feedback.”
Feedback is important for this team, as they want to be able to understand what Haligonian audiences are looking for in terms of a festival. “There’s been real engagement, I think, from people who are interested in seeing art, in seeing great work.”
That engagement translates to bums in seats, volunteers helping out, sponsorships and a general sense of good will toward this festival. “We have huge support in the queer community, who I think really do want to see their lives reflected on screen and in some capacity,” says Krista.
As for future plans, Wilson says that more than anything, she and her friends want the festival to grow. “We have these feelings, these ideas. We want to do more,” she says. “So over the next few years the program will grow a bit, and we know what our audiences are and what we can expect to come out.”