2 min

Thirty years of Reel Pride in Winnipeg

The film festival promises to be bigger than ever for its anniversary

The Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project is joining Winnipeg to celebrate 30 years of Reel Pride. Credit: Claude Jutra / Dempsey Millan / Janis Cole Holly Dale

Queer film has undergone a monumental shift over the past three decades, moving from underground screenings to festivals in major theatres. During that period, some of the edgiest and notable works have been lost, something the Queer Media Database Canada-Quebec Project hopes to rectify. Luckily for Winnipeggers, the organization has partnered with the Reel Pride GLBTTQ* Film Festival to celebrate that progress, the festival’s 30th anniversary and the revival of some of Canada’s queer cinematic history.

During the six-day festival, Reel Pride, one of Canada’s longest running film festivals, will showcase some of the year’s hottest queer movies at Winnipeg’s Gas Station Theatre. Highlights include: Thai drama How to Win at Checkers (Every Time); international drag superstar Jinkx Monsoon’s Drag Becomes Him; and the Canadian premiere of Paternity Leave, the story of a gay couple that becomes unexpectedly pregnant.

In addition to screening some of the coolest films in queer cinema, the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project — an online catalogue of LGBT Canadian moving image works — is helping to celebrate 30 years of Reel Pride. On Thursday, Oct 15, festival goers will be given a unique window into Canadian queer history with a double-bill of archival footage curated by Media Queer.

Jordan Arseneault, co-curator of the event, explains that the purpose of the project is to honour great Canadian filmmakers who don’t always get the credit they deserve. “We have a cultural memory of mostly famous, big-budget American movies,” he says. “When it comes to Canadian films, the memories fade, we get lost in Americana, under the American promotional machine.” To combat this, Media Queer collects, presents and celebrates Canadian LGBT works, allowing Canadians to easily access rarely seen films that are often difficult to obtain.

The evening of Canadiana kicks off with a screening of P4W: Prison for Women, a 1981 documentary Arseneault describes as “a masterclass in humane documentary filmmaking,” which focuses on the impact of incarceration on women. “It’s not in the tongue-in-cheek way we see in Orange is the New Black. It’s real,” he says. The seriousness of one film is then paired with light-hearted short, A Day In The Life Of A Bull-Dyke. The story highlights the world of a “big-boned butcher” finding passion and purpose, focusing on a kind of character that often remains unexplored in mainstream media.

The second feature of the evening is À Tout Prendre (Take It All), Claude Jutra’s 1963 semi-autobiographical experimental narrative. Featuring an interracial couple with a gay twist, the film marks an important moment in Canadian queer cinema, as it became the country’s first explicitly gay-themed feature film. To wrap up the evening, attendees will be treated with a rare Bruce LaBruce short, I Know What It’s Like To Be Dead. Co-curators of the program, Thomas Waugh and Arseneault, will be in attendance throughout the evening to host post-film discussions.

Along with the blockbusters and pieces of history being screened, Reel Pride will host its 12th annual Canadian GLBTTQ* short film competition on Wednesday, Oct 14.The festival advisory committee narrowed down 80 short film submissions to 17, which will provide attendees with a unique program. Entries range from two–21 minutes, ensuring a fast-paced and exciting event, jam-packed with LGBT works.

The six-day festival concludes on Sunday, Oct 18, with a wrap party at Club 200 that promises complimentary champagne and a special guest. The event is 18+ and free to festival pass holders.