It is amazing to have seen Fairytales grow from a small 2-day festival to this year’s 10-day event, featuring over 60 films, documentaries, and a ton of special guests. This year’s festival kicks off May 27th and runs until June 5th
The second biggest film festival in the city, behind only the Calgary International Film Festival, features a very diverse lineup.
“We wanted to celebrate ten years by screening ten days of films. Who knows if we will shrink back to seven days for our 11th year, I think this festival will be the litmus test of whether Calgary can sustain a ten-day queer film fest. One would like to think so, we are a city of a million people!” said festival and programming director Matt Salton.
“The festival aims for diversity in its programming and we try and represent the many different faces, figures, orientations, abilities, and ages of the queer community as possible while also trying to program a variety of genres; romance, drama, comedy, science fiction, western, horror, thriller, documentaries - it’s all there! Plus we also try to entertain, enlighten, and educate and we hope that when you do attend, that you get a little of all three.”
Another big part of Fairytales is the assortment of parties and Gala screenings.
“This year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary short Freeheld is one of our featured Centerpiece Gala Films on Friday, May 30th at 7pm. Bring Kleenex, because it will really move you, plus the film it is paired up with, She’s A Boy I Knew which is equally powerful but with a much more uplifting tone. The filmmaker Gwen Haworth will be joining us.”
“The opening and closing films, Were The World Mine and The Curiosity of Chance are geared towards queer youth and are perfectly acceptable to bring your parents to enjoy; they’re funny, affirming and worth the price of admission. WTWM is a musical about a tormented gay youth at a private boys school who concocts a love potion that turns his town gay - the visuals are dazzling and the music is terrific! The Curiosity of Chance is a quirky teen comedy that plays like a John Hughes movie gone gay and was a big hit with the programmers this year. I also thoroughly enjoyed Mulligans because Charlie David wrote a gay movie that any orientation can enjoy and features beautiful cinematography, an original script and of course, great looking actors!”
The festival also features several panel discussions with the filmmakers in attendance.
“The panels are always perceived as a success even if only a dozen people show up because it adds a special quality to the festival for people with a keen interest in the inner-workings of an artist’s mechanics. This year, our subject is sex and who isn’t interested in talking about sex? We have a really exciting line-up of guests that fans of popular culture might actually recognize like Mark Kenneth Woods (House of Venus and Deb in the popular internet sketches Deb & Sisi) and Dante’s Cove’s Charlie David, and Thea Gill who is probably best remembered as Lindsay on Queer as Folk. As well we have Alexis Mitchell (Rubb My Chubb: Fat Activism and the Fat Femme Mafia), John Caffrey (Kids on TV and Breakdance Hunx), Trevor Anderson (DINX and Rugburn), Attila Richard Lukacs (Drawing Out the Demons), Wrik Mead, Bren Ryder, Gerry Rogers (My Left Breast), Christina Willings (Cure For Love) and Linda Ludwick (Mommy, Mommy).”
This is Salton’s second year as programming director, and he told us of some of the challenges and learning experiences that have influence him to make this year even better.
“I learned that there is definitely an audience for films about trans-identified folks and that the lesbians like their girl on girl action and the gay men love their guy on guy action. But the lesbians liking their man on man action and the gay men loving their girl on girl action? Yeah, not so much. So we’re keeping our sexier content pretty much exclusive for the sexual orientations they were made for.”
This year also features many theme nights, involving sex and suspense.
“Well since we’re ten years old and the Roman numeral for ten is ‘X’, I thought, X rated? It will be interesting to see how our ’seXrated Saturday‘ will play out, since we’re showing some pretty steamy entertainment. The 7pm screening is geared towards women and explores female perceptions of sexual attraction while the 9:30pm screening explores the world of gay porn from a bisexual woman’s point-of-view. Mr. Pam, who we’re flying in from San Francisco, is a real hoot! She’s definitely going to be everyone’s fag hag over the weekend! Plus, she swears she’s bringing some Colt Studios men with her, so stay tuned!” (We are holding you to that promise Matt!)
“As for horror, it’s the fastest growing sub-genre of queer film and there’s so much fodder in the gay world to skew as scary. The Gay Bed & Breakfast of Terror exploits every stereotype about our community known to man, but also skewers the right-wing religious opposition as psychopathic deviants. Our thrills and chills double bill on Sunday evening however, shouldn’t be perceived as ‘horror’ per se. They are more creepy thrillers, well, especially the first film, You Belong To Me which has shades of Polanski’s thrillers from the 60s and 70s and The Raven which is what a British Hammer Film from the same era would have been like with gay underwear models making out every five minutes.”
Salton shared some of his favorites from the festival as well.
“I’m very proud of our three shorts programs; there’s a Best of the Fest compilation that Gordon Sombrowski and his husband Kevin Allen put together that highlights the most memorable shorts over the past ten years including The Milkman, which has to be seen to be believed. There are our shorts for women, which is a lot of fun and we’re dedicating that screening to the Herland film festival. Our shorts for men package is truly international and is probably one of the most satisfying cinematic experiences at the festival. I really enjoyed the Spanish-language comedy Boystown it’s entertaining and funny if you like your humour on the darker side, and the films’ main characters are pretty cute Bears! I also really enjoyed No Regret from South Korea, it plays almost like an opera. It becomes so over the top dramatic but it’s so lovely to look at and the sex scenes are hot!”
Fairytales has already achieved so much success in such a small time frame, especially in Alberta, however Salton assures us that the best is yet to come.
“Onwards and upwards my friend! The more our stories begin to transition into the mainstream, the more relevant queer film festivals become because those stories are usually told from a heterosexual director’s point of view with straight actors playing gay/lesbian/trans. Our stories are told primarily by queer filmmakers with queer casts, they’re the reel deal!”
May 27th – June 5, 2008
Festival passes $99.