Changing perspectives

Local gay and lesbian film festival ushers in a new era

If you’re one of those “macho men” — you know the kind, with the brutish demeanor and the urge to high-five and/or fist bump every passing Joe Six-Pack you run into who might have gotten drunk on Jagerbombs with you one night at the club while scoping out the plastic blondes with silicone-injected tits and even more air inside their puny skulls, but that’s okay, as long as you get laid tonight — then you probably know nothing about FairyTales.

That might change, though, as the men and women behind the annual International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival are ready to take their organization and mission to the next level.

At the first Shorts For All Sorts festival of short films on Nov. 10, the society will unveil a new logo, marketing plan, and overall new demeanor to the way queer film will be presented to the unsuspecting Calgary public. Another new addition is festival director Jessica Dollard, who is excited about the next phase of the 12-year-old festival.

“We want this new logo and design to reflect where the society is headed in the next five years,” says Dollard, “which is, essentially, increasing the breadth of the festival as a whole.”

Part of that plan is encompassing more art forms within the festival besides film. Dollard hopes to include theatre, dance and visual arts along with the annual film showcase, recognizing that there’s more than one way to communicate the struggles, triumphs and beauty of the homosexual community.

“I come from a theatre background myself,” says Dollard, who started at FairyTales as a volunteer before moving up the ladder to her current top position, “so I’m really excited to incorporate that aspect into what we already do here, and reach a new audience. That’s what we’re always after, to find new people who are enthused to see what we have to offer.”

Obviously, it will take more than a new logo to accomplish that goal. The society is also focusing its efforts on seeing how it can reach more people that may not actively seek out the queer art community.

“We’re developing an initiative called Reels on Wheels, where we’ll be visiting schools and small towns and showcasing queer culture to people outside of Calgary,” says Dollard. “It’s been really warmly received by the volunteers here who want to take part in it and are helping develop this, but we have yet to actually take it on the road and visit any classrooms. We’re really excited to get started, though.”

Ultimately, what FairyTales wants to improve upon is what they’ve always done from the very beginning: involve and represent the queer community through art being made within that group. It begs the question of why someone who’s not a member would be interested at all, but Dollard insists that although the festival may seem inclusive, it’s truly for everyone.

“Everyone’s invited,” she says. “We’re really interested and invested in the community, but at the same time we hope people won’t be intimidated to come and check us out. I think we’re the second-largest festival in Calgary right now, so that has to mean that people are interested in what we’re doing.

“Besides the subject matter, there’s really nothing that separates a queer film from a regular indie art film you might see at [the Calgary International Film Festival]. There are comedies, tragedies, artsy films, straightforward romantic comedies and everything in between. So if you’re interested in art or film, it’s something you should check out.”

Tickets for the Shorts For All Sorts festival, which plays at the Uptown Stage and Screen, are $15 in advance at http://www.fairytalesfilmfest.com, or $20 at the door. After the screenings, you can join the after-party in the Marquee Room at 9 p.m. and take part in what will surely be the wildest dance party this season, all in the name of supporting a truly vibrant Calgarian community.

Originally published November 5, 2009