Oct 22, 2014
I attended Winnipeg’s longest running film festival, Reel Pride, this past weekend and had my eyes opened. What a great festival!
“Reel Pride exists to celebrate queer media arts and to contribute to community vitality by programming materials that focus on issues of importance to Winnipeg’s queer community”. The festival has been running since 1987.
On Wednesday October 15 I attended the Short Film Competition at their home venue, the Gas Station Arts Centre. They programmed 16 short films from across Canada and had 63 shorts submitted, which is a record number of submissions for them. The program was fantastic! There was a great mix of shorts that were touching and interesting, funny and silly and some that touched on serious topics in the queer and transgender community. The Winnipeg Film Group had two films featured in the program from our Distribution Catalogue: The gender bending thrill ride of a music video Polar Express by Karen Asmundson & Gwen Trutnau and Teenage Dance by Adam Bentley which deals with the introspective struggle for self trust and acceptance. In addition there were two shorts made by WFG members, a short drama by Madison Thomas & Kevin Gabel and an experiment video art piece by Lasha Mowchun.
The best part about this night for me was the crowd. Made up largely of Winnipeg’s GLBTTQ* community it felt like a celebration. I have attended many Film Festivals in my 8+ years as the Distribution Director at the WFG and this was one of the best programs because it felt encouraging and warm and we weren’t just watching short films we were watching short films that meant something to the crowd that was watching it. Their lives, their situations, their struggles were being represented and I really understood where the word “Pride” came in.
I missed a few days of the festival but came back for Industry Day on Saturday October 18. This is the second year that Reel Pride has held an Industry Day and while I think it has been a little slow to take off I really hope it sticks around and people start coming out because it was a day filled with great discussions, ideas and collaboration. There were 3 “panels” each with 3 or 4 panelists but they were set up in the round so it felt in some ways like we were all panelists. Everyone could share and contribute and the topics really elicited some great discussion. The panels were For Independent Filmmakers: the Short Film and the Queer Aesthetic – Why it Matters, Women in Filmmaking, and In the Front and Back (of the camera). The highlight for me was Women in Filmmaking withpanelists Shauna MacDonald, Shawna Dempsey, Lasha Mowchun and by Skype, Heather Tobin.
Side note: What I got out of this panel is that there needs to be a support network in our community for women interested in filmmaking. To get the conversation started the WFG will host a casual gathering soon. We will provide refreshments and snacks and it will be an opportunity for women interested in film and video to come out and offer support, advice and a community to one another.
After the three panels I emerged into the lobby to find it packed wall-to-wall for the premiere of Aaron Floresco’s new feature doc One Gay City: A History of LGBT Life in Winnipeg. The crowd waiting to see the film wasn’t the “regular” film festival goers as far as I could tell. In fact I don’t know if I recognized more than two people. This crowd was here for the subject matter, to see a part of life and Winnipeg’s history represented onscreen.
That night actor and first time filmmaker Shauna MacDonald’s film Tru Love screened and the crowd loved it! Shauna and her two co-stars were there from Toronto and later one of them told me that this audience was so good it was probably one of the best they ever had for the film. The Q & A was very interesting and touched on a variety of interesting topics (including some that we had spoken about earlier in the day), and some people commented they were sobbing at the end of the film. I could see that this story about a different kind of love triangle and finding true love at any age resonated with a lot of people in the crowd, straight and queer.
Overall I had a great time at Reel Pride (on the 2 out of 6 days I attended) and will definitely be attending next year. I hope that more people from the Industry and the independent filmmaking community make it out because it is worth supporting!
I also am looking forward to engaging with the community with the new Women in Film & Video Support Network. Stay tuned for details or email me to let me know you are interested in joining!
Distribution Director, Winnipeg Film Group