Reelout Queer Film Festival returns for 19th year

Screenings offer shorts, feature-length contributions

Porcupine Lake.
Porcupine Lake.
Supplied by Matt Salton

From Feb. 1 to 10, the Reelout Queer Film Festival wants you to see the world through a different lens.

According to Executive Director Matt Salton, this means watching the festival’s “Reelness” unfold.

To that end, this year’s Reelout primarily focuses on short films and documentaries that explore intersectional experiences along the lines of age, sex, ability, class and race.

“Our festival’s all about showcasing lives that aren’t as visible,” Salton said. “It’s an extra bonus that so many of our stories were about intersections within the LGBT community.”

Salton said this is reflected in the group that screens the films, made up of Queens faculty, students and Kingston locals who he believes are reflective of the “queer community in general.”

“Reelout has certainly evolved with queer politics,” Salton said. “When I was first member of the collective, ‘cis-gender’ was a term that wasn’t even brought up. It was a very white organizing committee. Trans visibility on campus was little to none.”

This year, the selection process involved watching over 300 submissions. The result is the final selection of 65 films from 15 different countries.

Salton said these films can speak for themselves, but as an added benefit, some filmmakers will attend the festival to speak on their behalf.

Standouts include Arshad Khan and his film ABU — a meditation on Khan’s experience growing up as gay man in Pakistan as well as his experience immigrating to Canada. The movie revels in complexities and experiments with its storytelling, using techniques like animation to reflect Khan’s story.

Similarly, Sébastien Chabot and Michael Slack will be appearing with their film, The Gardener. The documentary tells the story of gardener and horticulturalist Frank Cabot and his cultivation of Les Quatre Vents, a 20 acre English-style garden and summer estate.

Queen’s alumnus Slack served as executive director of the film and will be available for a Q&A with Chabot following the screening of their film on Feb. 3.

Likewise, Queen’s student contributions this year include three other films: Julia Carrie’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Nelly Matorina and Xiaoxuan Huang’s An Extension of You and Anastasia Syzmanski’s Beat.

Salton said the opportunity to present these less visible films is at the core of Reelout. Despite filmmaking increasingly appearing on VOD or the internet, he added the focus and value put on the filmmakers’ artistic independence still sets the festival apart.

“It’s no longer about promoting the festival. It’s about promoting the intent of the festival or the purpose of the festival and the importance and significance of it,” he said.

That idea extends to people outside of the LGBT community that may feel that attending the festival takes away a space that isn’t theirs. Salton explained this is far from Reelout’s intentions.

“We want people to come. We want people to learn. We want people to grow. We want to foster respect and understanding and build bridges,” he said.

 “We hope the lasting impression is that you’ve learned something and that you can see the world through a different pair of eyes and you can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”

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