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Queer City Cinema brings representation to the big screen

By in Culture

On Feb. 8 and 9, Queer City Cinema brought Qaleidoscope: Queer Film on Tour to Saskatoon. This was the fourth tour from the organization to come to the city in the past 19 years.

Qaleidoscope screened 22 short films across two nights. These films were curated to showcase marginalized voices, especially those of queer people of colour and transgender people. At the event, there was an active effort to represent groups who exist in a way that is not often shown in mainstream media — such as people with disabilities and queer Indigenous people.

Broad representation is a strict standard when choosing films for the tour, as well as films that are both intimate and personal. When asked about the importance of representation, Gary Varro, the executive and artistic director for QCC, emphasized the impact of seeing diverse characters on screen.

“It’s important because it should be there. I mean, it’s about humanity. Humanity is widely varied and vast and textured, and it’s the responsibility of people like myself to ensure that variety and representation is there,” Varro said.

Varro says that it’s time for representation in media and that representation of the most marginalized groups within society and within the LGBTQ+ community have always been the goal for Queer City Cinema.

When I was interviewing Varro, I asked him how likely I was, as a recently out queer person, to get emotional during the showing. I was told that it would be hard to tell as every film triggers something different in everyone. There were films in Qaleidoscope that are specifically about coming to terms with your sexuality.

The tour makes a point to showcase non-traditional, experimental films. Many of the films shown lack a linear plot or storyline, but they are still able to evoke emotion. The films are open to the interpretation of individual viewers, and the viewer can then take away their own meaning.

Even in the absence of a coherent storyline, something that many — perhaps even most — people look for in film, there is still meaning and emotion to be found within the work. Outsider films — films that are not “polished and mainstream” — are specifically selected for these festivals to showcase another type of filmmaking.

Another important goal of Queer City Cinema is to bring queer films to cities and areas that do not have an established queer film festival.

Varro describes the tour as somewhat like an outreach program to provide queer content to areas that do not necessarily have the same access to it as a way to bring exposure and awareness to queer issues.

These films are beautiful narratives dealing with coming-of-age stories, coming out and falling in love. However, many of the films are experimental and abstract. The topics of the films were diverse, ranging from young queer love to personal stories of sex as a person with a disability to the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s.

I am a very empathetic and emotional person, but I found myself tearing up more than I had expected. These topics are heavy, but they are real, valid experiences that are so often left out of film or not granted the degree of raw emotion and depth they deserve. It is important and moving to see the perspectives that are so often left out of stories altogether finally take centre stage.

Amber Adrian-Jackson

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor

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