reel exposure for maturing festival

reelout finds middle ground as a community-oriented film festival that is beginning to attract a wider audience

The Gymnast will open the reelout festival tomorrow night at Capitol 7 Theatre.
The Gymnast will open the reelout festival tomorrow night at Capitol 7 Theatre.
Credit: 
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Interview: reelout queer film andvideo festival @ various locations, Jan. 25 - Feb. 4

This Friday night, if you’re caught up in the tedium of ticket purchasing at the Capitol 7 Theatre, take a moment to observe the environment around you. If you can see past the dozens of preteen girls lined up to see Justin Timberlake’s abs in Alpha Dog and the weary Bond aficionados on their twelfth dose of Casino Royale, you’ll notice a slightly different crowd.

Hidden among the teenyboppers and awkward dates, will be the dedicated cinephile—anxiously anticipating a memorable opening night for the reelout queer film & video festival. For the first time in its eightyear history, reelout will showcase one of its films in a mainstream venue—an indication of the remarkable development and growing popularity of the festival. “reelout has come such a long way and is moving gracefully through adolescence,” said Lenny Epstein, current programming director.

“It began as just a few committed volunteers and a few films coming together. Yet, it has continued to grow due to demand and is now a festival that attracts submissions from across the world and is a premiere cultural event in Kingston,” he said. As a festival founded before the emergence of the Kingston Canadian Film Festival, reelout has grown into one of Kingston’s principal cinematic events, yet it has always maintained an appreciative relationship with the Kingston film community.

“KingCan and reelout are distinct, yet complimentary,” said Courtney Graham, current advertising and
promotions co-ordinator. “Having these two festivals gives the audience a choice. They have their mandate and we have ours.” In past years, reelout has been seen as a festival with a niche following, but in its eighth showcase the festival is sure to reach a wider audience.

By holding their opening gala at the Capitol 7, audiences can expect a film-going experience that
is familiar in every detail, which is a luxury that has never been a part of the reelout experience. “It’s a point of legitimization,” Graham said. “This [legitimization] is what people in Toronto, Vancouver, and
Montreal can appreciate, yet in a community like Kingston, it’s harder to find.” Despite their newfound
exposure, reelout hasn’t lost the provocative edge that made it unique. Movie buffs can expect to have their schedules full with intriguing film screenings, interactive panel discussions and eventful after-parties. Highlighting the festival this year will be Ned Farr’s The Gymnast, a multi-award winning film that will hold its Canadian premiere at reelout’s opening gala. Other films to schedule in will be My Brother… Nikhil—the first film to deal with homosexuality and receive mainstream distribution in India— and Denis Langlois’ powerful Canadian feature Amnesia: The
James Brighton Enigma
.

To Graham, offering everything from international successes to Canadian and aboriginal features
has led to a diverse appreciation by the Kingston community. “Whether you’re in your first year at Queen’s, or whether you’re 60, you can genuinely appreciate the festival. Our collective is open,” she said.

“It’s not just for the queer community; it’s not just for people involved in queer related issues; it’s
for anyone interested in film.” Starting from its humble beginnings, reelout has grown into an event that is accepted and supported throughout the greater Kingston area.

“It’s rare or nonexistent that people act negatively towards it,” she said. “Generally, people act
with curiosity.” With a festival transitioning into Kingston’s mainstream awareness and receiving larger public exposure, it would be easy for the foundational mandate to be lost. Yet to Epstein, Graham and the rest of the reelout staff, their objective has never been clearer. “Queer is so much more than being lesbian, gay, bi, etc.,” said Graham.

“We want people to feel like they know that Kingston has a community, and get a greater understanding of what that means.”

The growing support for the festival has created an atmosphere that allows for greater awareness
of queer culture while also offering the opportunity for film enthusiasts to get their share of award-winning cinema. It has become a cultural event that is social, unique and most importantly, community-focused. “Finally,” said Graham, “the Kingston community and the Queen’s community can interact.”

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For complete festival schedule and venue information, visit www.reelout.com.

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