Indie Cinema Tells All: Everything You Need to Know About Queer North Film Festival!
From June 22-26, Sudbury will be hosting Queer North Film Festial (QNFF); our first LGBT film festival! There are many LGBT festivals in southern Ontario that draw films and viewers from around the world, but this is the first time that Sudbury will be home to a film fest that focuses on LGBT content and creation. Beth Mairs, Project Manager of Indie Cinema and the mastermind behind Best of Hot Docs Sudbury, Women in Film Wednesdays, and many other local film projects, is also responsible for QNFF! Here, she gives us all the details about the festival.
When did this idea come about? Is this type of festival something that you have always wanted to bring to the north?
Since the concept for Sudbury Indie Cinema Co-op was launched in fall of 2013, I’ve had many Sudburians ask if we could bring back QUEER VOICES OF THE NORTH, a film festival based in the Soo that last ran in 2010. I had a great fondness for this festival as it was certainly very progressive to run a queer-themed festival in the North, and they were the first to programme one of my titles. I kept investigating to see if Queer Voices was going to re-boot, and eventually, after a lapse of 5 years and in speaking with its founders, it became clear it was not going to be resurrected. At the same time, Sudbury Indie Cinema conducted a programming survey with our members (500 strong). One of the strongest mini-film festival themes proposed from the membership was an LGBTQ one. In consulting with our Board of Directors, we determined to apply for a small grant from the Ontario Arts Council. We were successful in receiving a grant to move forward with Queer North Film Festival in 2016.
Carol; playing at QNFF on Friday, June 24th at 7:00pm
There are many LGBT film festivals in southern Ontario, but this is the first time one is being hosted in Sudbury! How do you think QNFF will have an impact on the film industry in the north?
This is entirely new for Sudbury, and as Sudbury more consciously develops its arts and culture infrastructure and as community celebrations like Fieste Sudbury Pride start to draw queer visitors from across the region to Sudbury, we are part of developing a cluster of events to attract LGBT tourism to the City, and that’s a market segment that is very attractive to businesses and the arts.
As far as the film industry goes, I’ve encountered flat out homophobia and transphobia from some quarters including major gatekeepers. It’s disappointing and shocking. However, for the majority of people it’s a non-issue. I believe that events such as this serve a dual function: the primary purpose is to bring queer communities together in a celebratory atmosphere through high quality cinema. A happy side effect is it gives visibility and voice to the presence of queer people in the North and messages to the broader community that we too are members of the community. Hopefully, there is a domino effect whereby it becomes easier for someone to be ‘out’ at school or ‘come out’ at work. Hopefully, the entire downtown becomes a safer space for queer people at night. It’s a worthy initiative to chip away at: because reducing homophobia and transphobia builds on Sudbury as a welcoming community and a more attractive community to stay in or move to; for everybody!
Pearl of Africa, playing at QNFF on Saturday, June 25th at 3pm
Was there a motivating factor for choosing Sudbury as the city that will host QNFF?
This is an initiative of Sudbury Indie Cinema Co-op. We bring the highest quality of independent cinema to Sudbury and part of our mission is to give voice to lesser heard voices and under-represented groups on the large screen. We exist to make a difference, not a profit, so our programming choices reflect, at times, an over-compensation for the drivel we in North America are indoctrinated with through the monopoly of Hollywood and highly commercialized mainstream culture.
Are there any films that you are most excited to see? Which films should we be sure to check out?
That’s hard for me to answer as the Festival Director: I want people to buy a very cheap all access festival pass (range $40-60) and come and go as they wish. It’s a very strong line up of features with Sudbury getting 2nd dibs on World or Canadian premieres immediately on the heels of top rung festivals in Toronto. You should have seen me through-out May charging filmmakers after screenings to secure the film for Sudbury!!
PEARL OF AFRICA had its world premiere at Hot Docs, SUICIDE KALE had its Canadian premiere at Inside Out. TWO SOFT THINGS TWO HARD THINGS has its world premiere at Inside Out as well. We are committed to quality and there are no short cuts.
I would also encourage folks to circle the Best of Shorts programme because these are international submissions as well as local- the material is definitely edgier.
Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things, playing at QNFF on Sunday, June 16th at 1:15pm
Most importantly, why is QNFF important to you and what message do you want viewers to take away from the experience?
The dynamics of the Queer community in Sudbury have changed significantly over the past 5 years. The positive development is more diverse. The downside is it’s more fragmented. My hopes with a film festival showcasing the best in recent queer cinema is to draw segments of our more diverse communities under one roof for a stimulating collective experience; also, to be a fantastic host to queer visitors to showcase Sudbury as a gem of a getaway… with or without blackflies.
To find out more and to purchase tickets, visit Sudbury Indie Cinema’s website.
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