Fairy Tales at 16 – Queer Films Saved Us!

The Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival starts tonight at the Plaza Theatre.  It is one of my favourite times of the year!

In June 1999, this cultural institution began in Calgary, then called the Fairy Tales Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.  It opened for two nights in the Garry Theatre in Inglewood (no longer a theatre, but a live music venue).  There were sell out crowds as well as lots of excitement on those two sweltering summer evenings – in a venue with no air conditioning!  Movie goers, fanned themselves with programs, drank cool beverages and managed to sweat buckets with no complaints: a sort-of cinematic sauna experience…

Fairytales Founders: Trevor Alberts, Kelly Langgard and Kevin Allen (from L. to R.)

Fairytales Founders (1999): Trevor Alberts, Kelly Langgard and Kevin Allen.

Seeing ourselves represented on the big screen for sixteen years now has been nothing short of alchemy for me personally.  After a week of watching queer film (I am a pretty hard core festival goer), I am always disoriented to find the outside world as straight as it is.

However, it is the documentaries I have seen at Fairy Tales that have stayed with me the longest.  My short list includes:

Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement (whose protagonist Edith Windsor later brought down the U.S Defense of Marriage Act last summer at age 84).

Call Me Kuchu (last year’s Fairy Tales Centrepiece Gala, about Ugandan gay-rights activist David Kato, which devastated me for days).

Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride (following Vancouver’s Pride Parade Director travel to other pride demonstrations around the world – including Russia – which spontaneously got a standing ovation in the cinema afterwards!)

United in Anger: The History of Act Up (a stunning look at how AIDS activists fighting under the highest stakes, changed the world).

Every year the programming team at Fairy Tales combs through hundreds of submissions, to select the festival’s annual line-up.  I am sure there are more memorable films to be seen this week at Festival #16 – check them out!

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