Reelout launches online Queer Film Festival

Using film as a medium for advocacy, change, and escape

For the first time, Reelout will take place online. 
Still from Dramarama

Film promotes advocacy and change while allowing people to escape the struggles of everyday life. Reelout, a local Queer film festival, harnesses these powers of film to foster a sense of community among LGBTQIA2S+ filmmakers while giving individuals a platform for their voices to be heard.

From Jan. 29 to Feb. 6, Reelout Arts Project Incorporated will be launching its virtual Queer film festival. This year, in light of the pandemic, the Reelout film festival is featuring many escapist genre films, allowing people to relax and unwind.

“Our films focus on the lives of LGBTQ characters, real or imagined,” Matt Salton, executive director of Reelout Arts Project Incorporated, said in an interview with The Journal.

“We have 68 films at the festival this year. They represent 18 different countries and they’re grouped into 19 different programs: there are short films, there are feature length films, we have documentaries, narratives, and films for all ages. Our opening gala film is a nostalgic film [and] teen film set in the early 90s […] We have a gory drag queen horror movie and then everything in between over the eight days.”

“All of our films are chosen by a committee […] And our committee is as diverse as our audience is,” he said.

“We’ve tried to steer our programmers to try to choose films that are obviously good but also leave one feeling hopeful,” Salton said. “We’ve kept it pretty light […] A lot more escapist genre.”

Salton acknowledged that some members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, particularly the trans and BIPOC communities, have experienced more hardship and marginalization than others. By choosing more escapist films, Reelout intends to give these groups a sense of hope and the power to recognize their beauty.

“Especially in the trans community, there is so much disgusting transphobia and there’s also so many microaggressions that happen day to day that really beat people down,” Salton said. “I would say that the biggest overall issue is the issue we’ve had since year one which is the idea of respect and how there are just some people who don’t believe in equality.”

Although film can be used as a means of escapism, it can also promote activism, Salton said.

“Film is a powerful tool for political change and advocacy. I would probably argue that it is the most effective of the disciplines for doing that because you really get a chance to hear and see from people around the world in the truest form.”

Part of Reelout’s mandate is to initiate challenging dialogue among members of the Kingston community.

“Because we are in a small urban centre, I think that we tend to focus more on the artists that make the films,” Salton said. “We encourage them to come and engage with their audiences normally.”

In light of the pandemic, Reelout will be held entirely online this year, including the film screenings and pre-recorded videos from the artists.

“It’s kind of antithetical to what Reelout’s all about because we like to draw people together and create a community,” Salton said. “Especially in a time of year that’s cold and everyone’s frustrated.”

Despite the frustrations of COVID-19, Reelout has recruited many speakers from the Kingston community and surrounding areas to discuss various topics in the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

Two of the speakers for this year’s event include Johnathan Wysocki, director of Dramarama, and filmmaker Shana Myara, director of Well Rounded, a documentary about being big and beautiful.

Wysocki will be speaking about his film with Kemi King, a Queen’s drama student, and Shana Myara will be discussing her doc with Tamara Lang from Queen’s film.

Reelout will occur through the platform Eventitive, where the events can be streamed remotely.


This article has been updated to correctly spell the names of Kemi King and Tamara Lang.

The Journal regrets the error.

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