Keeping it Reel

After 11 years of reeling out, Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival hopes to have even more visibility within the Kingston community

College Boys, 2009. Directed by George O’Donnell. This year Reelout organizers see a heavier weight placed on gender, rather than sexual diversity in the festival’s films.
College Boys, 2009. Directed by George O’Donnell. This year Reelout organizers see a heavier weight placed on gender, rather than sexual diversity in the festival’s films.
Credit: 
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This year marks the 11th instalment of the Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival—and they’re celebrating with a capital “R”.

“We’ve gone from a lower case ‘R’ to an upper case ‘R’,” Matt Salton, Reelout festival and programming director, said of Reelout’s old lower case spelling quirk. “It’s time that we stand up and be proud of who we are. We’re not being cocky or anything. This ‘R’ is in honour of all the hard work this festival has done.”

From humble and unlikely beginnings in Kingston, Reelout has grown to become one of the largest queer film festivals in the country. Salton is no stranger to the festival.

“I started with Reelout in 2001,” Salton said. “Marney McDiarmid [original founder of the festival] put a call out to anyone who wanted to be involved. I ended up being involved with the festival for six or seven years and then from there I went out to Calgary and did the Fairy Tales [a GLBTQ Film festival] for three years.”

After being away for three years, Salton said he has noticed some changes with the festival.

“It’s gotten much bigger. It’s become, dare I say, a little more professional,” Salton said. “But it’s still run by consensus, it’s still community oriented and run a charity and a not-for-profit.”

Reelout receives funding from all three levels of government and has grown to receive ample support from businesses in downtown Kingston. Although this year’s website, festival guide and advertising campaign are the mark of a festival that’s truly reached professional status, Reelout is reaching even further.

“This year launches our “Out in Schools” program,” Salton said. “It’s an educational program that brings film and media based around gender diversity and sexuality diversity into secondary schools. We’re also expanding the program into the workplace and rural communities.”

“We’re also planning on opening a lending library, open to the public, which would charge $10 for a library card and where films and books will be available for loan.”

The future looks quite bright for the tiny festival that could, Salton said.

“I see having more consistent visibility in the community in the future,” he said. “A lot more films will also concern gender diversity rather than sexual diversity. That’s what seems to be the new fight, trans rights—especially right now in North America.” Although Salton remains very positive about the festival and the support it gets within the Kingston community, some aspects cause problems for the organization of a festival like Reelout.

“There still isn’t a main communication hub for arts organization in Kingston,” he said. “A lot of people are throwing events on the same night as other arts events.”

Jan. 29 is Reelout’s opening night gala, which is also the opening night for Art-ignite and two other arts-based fundraisers for Haiti happening at The Grad Club and Chalmer’s United Church as well as the Focus Film Festival screening and gala.

In a city the size of Kingston, this kind of event-splitting could cause multiple arts organizations to lose valued audience attendance.

Despite this minor set-back, Reelout organizers are still positive and excited for the 10-day festival to commence.

This year’s festival includes many screenings of award-winning feature-length films and shorts, including a string of international films to be screened mid-week. The international films were programmed by Joe Bateman.

“Some of them, I wouldn’t have personally picked,” Salton warned.

Some of the pieces chosen by Bateman are sure to spark debate and some controversy as some of the subject material is unsettling.

“International films are not as interested in the commercial aspect of their films at all. They’re not willing to compromise for commercialism.” With 11 years of quality festival programming and an outreach program into the greater Kingston community—it doesn’t seem like Reelout is compromising either.

Reelout starts this Friday night with a screening of Ferron: Girl On A Road.

Musician Ferron and the film’s director will be in attendance. For a full schedule of events and ticket information go to reelout.com

Guide to Reelout 2010

What: Ferron: Girl On A Road
When: Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.
Where: Biosciences Complex, room 1101
Why: Ferron is an unknown Canadian music icon who has inspired generations of women including the Indigo Girls and Ani Di Franco just to name a few. Both Ferron and the director will be in attendance at this screening.
Cost: $15
($14 for Members)

What: Vancouver 2010: Let the Gays Begin
When: Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.
Where: Ellis Auditorium
Why: A collection of shorts from Vancouver. Promises to show a Vancouver that many not be visible when you watch the 2010 Olympics.
Cost: $15
($14 for Members)

What: Pornography: A Thriller
When: Saturday, Jan. 30 at 9:30 p.m.
Where: Ellis Auditorium
Why: A sexy thriller in the vein of David Lynch, this film isn’t recommended for an all ages crowd—so you know it’ll be good.
Cost: $10
($9 for Members)

What: Fig Trees
When: Sunday, Jan. 31 at 1 p.m.
Where: Ellis Auditorium
Why: Director John Greyson is one of Canada’s most important queer directors, if not one of Canada’s most important directors, period. His film Fig Trees is a documentary opera about AIDS activism—and an albino squirrel that narrates the whole thing. Sound complex? Luckily, Greyson will be in attendance so you can ask him all the questions you want.
Cost: $10
($9 for Members)

What: Reelout Focus: Spain
When: Monday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.
Where: Stirling A Theatre
Why: The government of Spain is sponsoring this event and if the government of Spain recommends something, I do it.
Cost: $10
($9 for Members)

What: Reelout Focus: China
When: Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.
Where: Stirling A theatre
Why: A interesting perspective from a country that is so heavily censored, these films from China are sure to shed light on the
Cost: $10
($9 for Members)

What: Reelout Focus: Queer Brit
When: Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.
Where: Stirling A Theatre
Why: Controversial curator Joe Bateman’s collection of shorts are sure to spark some conversations.
Cost: $10
($9 for Members)

What: College Boy Live
When: Thursday, Feb. 4 at 9 p.m.
Where: Ellis Auditorium
Why: An examination of voyeurism in the digital age. What is it with college boys?
Cost: $10
($9 for Members)

What: Hollywood, Je t’aime
When: Thursday, Feb. 5 at 9:30 p.m.
Where: Ellis Auditorium
Why: This film was an official selection of the Los Angeles Film Festival and director Jamie Travis will be attendance at this screening.
Cost: $10
($9 for Members)

What: Wizard of Oz Sing-a-long
When: Saturday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m.
Where: Ellis Auditorium
Why: Are you a friend of Dorothy? Yes or no, this all ages, free event is sure to be a good time. Don’t forget to bring your ruby slippers.
Cost: Free

Why choose just one event when you could attend them all? A general admission festival pass is $90 and $50 for members.

—Emily Whalen

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