Queer City Cinema showcases different viewpoints
Notwithstanding the fact that the ninth Biennial International Queer Film and Video Festival hadn’t even started when the Carillon could begin our interview with Queer City Cinema’s artistic director, Gary Varro, he said he’s excited that “it’s going to be over in a week”.
He’s kidding of course. Still, you can imagine the amount of work that goes into a film festival where over fifty films are being shown during eight screenings between June 7 and 9. The festival includes both short and feature-length films, and two free screenings on Saturday, June 9.
Varro noted the variety in the content of the films being shown which “tends not to be identifiably queer, but happens to be made by someone who’s LGBTQ”.
“The subject matter isn’t necessarily or straightforwardly LGBTQ; it has a sensibility that’s distinct, but it isn’t always about coming out stories and straightforward things that people might expect a lesbian and gay film festival to be about,” said Varro.
“There’s always an attempt to balance things out in terms not only of gender,” he continued. “But humour, social issues, things that are experimental, things that are artful, and things that are thoughtful ̶ trying to make it appealing to all sorts of tastes, but also a big focus is ensuring that there’s artistic integrity,”
Recalling the disposal of the old Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit and its subsequent replacement program in recent months, Varro said it “hasn’t affected the festival.” The director said while Queer City’s Cinema’s funding is distinct from that, the situation may affect the festival in a more “fundamental, psychological, or even communal way.”
“We’ll continue on as a festival as long as we have funding, as long as people are making films and videos. It should survive,” said Varro.
This year’s festival features work from two local filmmakers, Being Two Spirited by Candy Fox and Coming Out: My Year Time Limit by Noelle Duddridge, showing on June 7 and 9 respectively. Nonetheless, the local content shown at the festival could be affected in the future as the number of filmmakers in this province may be affected.
“With the two [local] filmmakers showing in the festival this year, that work might not get produced locally,” Varro said. “If more people move away, there’s a smaller population to be represented in the festival perhaps. It just makes Regina small again, and Saskatchewan small again. It seemed at the point where we were making some strides in terms of culture and being represented on the Canadian movie and television scene. Being stripped of that is embarrassing. It’s regressive and damaging.”
“The subject matter isn’t necessarily or straightforwardly LGBTQ; it has a sensibility that’s distinct, but it isn’t always about coming out stories and straightforward things that people might expect a lesbian and gay film festival to be about." – Gary Varro
Varro said the festival affects not only the queer community. Rather, the artistic director said it has a “multi-level impact” affecting various communities, social groups, and even the city as a whole.
“What it does is add some texture to the city, regardless of whether it’s in the queer community, the film community, the visual arts community, or the performance community,” Varro said. “I think it serves to expand ideas around identity, sexuality, art, experimentation, and exploration in art. I hope it expands all those things for people to rethink all those ideas and issues, and perhaps it will lead people to either want to make films and videos themselves, or embrace an idea or identity they hadn’t considered before.”
The festival has been around for sixteen years, and was started as a result of a growing number of LGBTQ film festivals which led to more filmmakers being able to show their work.
“I saw this happening, and thought Regina was a place that doesn’t really have a lot of amenities or cultural offerings for the queer community. It was a way to add some texture to Regina as a place that’s fairly conservative in general terms. I thought it might be a good idea to introduce some viewpoints in art that people hadn’t considered before or hadn’t seen. It was never meant to be a festival that was Gay 101 … [or] a presentation of films and videos that were meant to explain who we were to the so-called street world,” said Varro.
The festival isn’t meant to be enjoyed by only those identifying as LGBTQ, but rather anyone who enjoys a night out at the movies.
“It’s made for all sorts of people,” Varro said. “Whether you’re an artist, LGBTQ, curious, unsure, coming out, people way beyond that, activists, socially conscious people, and people who just want to support the arts.”
The festival begins June 7 at 7:00 PM at the Neutral Ground Gallery. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $6 per screening, $10 for a double screening, and $20 for a festival pass. Full program details can be found at queercitycinema.ca.