Calgary is a much different place than it was 14 years ago. As the world has moved forward, we have moved with it, growing and changing for the better. One of the best examples of this change is the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival. What was then a small event struggling to stay afloat among hostile prejudice is now the second-largest film festival in the city. It has become an important part of Calgary's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit and questioning community, an event where people of all orientations are able to learn and broaden their horizons.
The festival is run by Fairy Tales Presentation Society, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting queer artists in all media. The film festival is their largest event of the year, lasting over a week and featuring dozens of creators from around the world.
"We have filmmakers from Calgary and across Canada and the United States, with a lot from Europe as well," says Melody Jacobson, the programming and producing director for Fairy Tales. "We also have a really strong Latin voice this year . . . bringing a really unique perspective."
The festival will feature a total of 17 feature films and 31 shorts, which will be presented in four separate groups. Many of these shorts are Canadian, including the comedy The Impostors, a Calgarian film about a B-list actor attempting to pass as a hitman. The director Christopher Cinnamon will be attending the festival to speak about film, as will many of the other featured directors.
Another Calgarian film will be the short documentary Masks of Gender. Made by students from Mount Royal University, the film focuses on the lack of workplace protection legislation for transgendered individuals and the ways they have faced discrimination. This film, along with many others at the festival, is helping bring the often ignored issue of transgendered rights into the spotlight.
"I think the conversation is starting to happen," says Jacobson. "It is something that we are talking about more, and people are starting to feel more comfortable talking about."
University of Calgary students will also be participating in the festival -- performers from the Coming Out Monologues, some of which are U of C students, will be presenting short sketches before many of the film screenings.
Although the LGBTTQ community is the focus of the Queer Film Festival, people of all sexual orientations are welcome to attend. To reinforce this, the festival is holding a Bring-a-Straight Night on May 28. Queer attendees are invited to bring a straight guest, who will get into the event for free.
"For heteronormative people, this is a great chance to learn more about the LGBTTQ community while also seeing some amazing films," says Jacobson.
With a wide variety of different events and films on display throughout the nine days of the festival, it will not be hard for people of any orientation to find what speaks to them. Jacobson also hopes that with so many people from all parts of the sexual spectrum gathering together, some may find something more.
"There are so many romantic movies, it will be perfect for couples," she says. "I want a lot of people to fall in love this year at the festival."
For more information about the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival, visit fairytalesfilmfest.com