By Вen Li
Don’t confuse Fairy Tales 3 with Snow White.
Now in its third year, Calgary’s queer film and video festival is presenting works of relevance to the homosexual community, among others.
"There is a hunger in the community to see an accurate portrayal of queer characters in films," says festival chair Trevor Alberts. "We’re interested in putting something different into that void in Canada and Calgary. Queers want to see themselves and others represented on the screen in accurate ways."
Local and international interest in the festival has increased in the last two years. Artists from Canada, the US, Switzerland and Australia will be showing their works this year.
"The festival grew from word-of-mouth from the first year. We estimate that 1,000 people attended last year," says Alberts, adding that this year they are expecting between 1,500 and 2,000. The youth audience is also growing.
"We did notice last year that there was quite an increase in youth attendance and we’ve programmed a couple of youth-oriented films as a reaction to that," says Alberts, citing Beautiful Bones, a short produced by 18-year-old Matt Wolf.
Most of the films selected for the festival are by Canadian artists who had interests in the gay community, and Alberts is proud of the high Canadian and local content of the festival. A focus on Canadian films allows works to be presented and consumed without mediation through corporate studios or movie chains.
"It’s a venue to showcase films of interest to gays that do not get covered in [regular] media and for anyone interested in seeing a different point of view," says Alberts about the lack of support form the mass-consumption film industry. Despite this, the festival is financially self-supporting, with goods and services donated by the community.
"Since we’re tailoring the festival to the Calgary community, most sponsors are local businesses," says Alberts, who explains the festival’s costs are under $10,000. "The festival would not be possible without the support of the community."
And it is for the community that organizers limited the festival’s growth.
"We’re trying to look at this year’s festival as an evaluation," says Alberts of the festival’s intentionally short length. "We don’t want to show sub-par films. We want to let it grow on its own and keep it accessible."
As the smallest queer film festival in Canada and the only one in Alberta, it is precisely that accessibility which Alberts hopes will contribute to the festival’s advocacy role.
“The idea of the festival is to show Calgary that different views exist,” says Alberts, who cited Joe Clark’s “wise move” in accepting the offer to marshal last Sunday’s Gay Pride parade. “We need to dispel the myth that [Canadians] are all white people and are all straight. If public figures can’t acknowledge these things, how will society ever come around?”