23rd ReelOut Queer Film Festival promotes kindness & inclusivity

ReelOut encourages audiences to ‘broaden their horizons’

ReelOut 2022 set to run virtually.
Supplied by ReelOut

Kingston’s ReelOut Queer Film Festival is returning online from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7, delivering a variety of LGBTQ+ films to excited audiences.

Matt Salton, ReelOut’s executive director, spoke with The Journal about this year’s festival.

“For the most part, we don't hear [stories related to the LGBTQ+ community]. So, there's a sort of authenticity to the films,” Salton said. “These are films that are authored by queer people, about queer people. You can't see that anywhere else.”

While ReelOut had planned to run through a hybrid of online and in-person screenings, COVID-19 restrictions forced the festival to go completely online.

Salton is keeping a positive outlook on this situation as a fully-online festival is a more accessible experience for viewers tuning in from different locations.

Many of the featured films will also include subtitles and closed captions.

“We're trying really hard to get [to a place of accessibility] so the festival becomes accessible for people who are deaf or hearing impaired,” Salton said.  “We're not there yet, and we're still struggling, still learning. But hopefully by next year we'll have done that.”

The festival’s line-up of 63 films offers something for everyone—shorts, feature lengths, documentaries, animations, and experimental films.

“The one common theme that ties everything together is that they’re made by and/or about LGBTQ+ people,” Salton said.

The films were selected by ReelOut’s collective of 15 members who chose stories based on the quality of the film, representation, and their topics.

“[ReelOut] is really curated by a community,” Salton said. “We're focused on gender and sexual orientation, but we also want to see films that talk about age, ability, class, faith, race, culture, and health.”

Salton hopes the films take the audience to places and make them feel new things.

As it stands, 19 different countries are represented in this year’s film line-up. Including international films in their lineup was important for ReelOut, as they will give their audiences opportunities to see the world from different points of view.

“Those of us who grew up in areas where it may not be as diverse, I think we're limiting ourselves to our own experiences,” Salton said. “We look at the world through our own filter and our own eyes, and there are so many different points of view out there, and people who have completely different lived experiences.”

Salton believes watching films from other areas of the world can broaden viewers’ horizons and help hone their empathy skills.

“I think that [audiences will] gain an appreciation for other people's lived experiences. I hope that people walk away feeling a little bit more kind.”

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