KO Reviews 18th Annual Fairy Tales Film Festival

18th Annual Fairy Tales Film Festival

2016 Fairy Tales Film Festival | 30sec Spot from FAIRY TALES on Vimeo.

Fairy Tales Film Festival celebrates local and national queer artists and share diverse stories based in film. Their artistic endeavours strive to provide a safe and respectful venue for members of all communities to celebrate queer culture across the LGBTTQA spectrum, as well as including those who subscribe to culturally, politically, artistically, and otherwise alternative and innovative ways of contributing to society.

Fairytales Film Festival create engaging social experiences through representative film, and utilize queer film as a vehicle for discussion and social change in our communities. Fairytales Film Festival is passionate about bringing these experiences to Albertans and visitors, sharing the joy of live cinema events, and queer representation on the big screen.

All Reviews by Emily Mody

In The Turn- May 22/16 at 7pm

In The Turn directed by Erica Tremblay, is a feature length documentary that follows a ten-year-old transgender girl named Crystal. She has struggled to find acceptance in her small town in rural Canada. When Crystal was seven and began her transition, she was banned from playing sports at school because the school did not know where to place her. Three years later, when her mother introduces Crystal to a queer roller derby collective called the Vagine Regime she finally finds the acceptances and empowerment that she has been longing for.

I thought that this film was a very powerful and sincere portrayal of an individual that is going through gender transition. This is, perhaps, a rather extreme example of this experience, particularly in light of the fact that there are very little resources available to Crystal but it is still a very important story that needs to be told. Especially viewing as a cis female, it is so important to see how heavily our society imposes restrictions on sexuality and gender. This is something that I normally do not think about in everyday life but In The Turn really opened my eyes to it. Why is it, that if someone is different they experience so much hate? Is it that our society is truly that afraid to face change? It scares me to think that a young girl like Crystal will be forever defined by something that has no merit in determining the quality of her character. I suppose that is why films such as In The Turn have so much value. The more we are exposed to differences in our society the more normalized they will become.

I would compare this film to Thank You For Playing directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and David Osit. These films are similar in style and tone. Both films display a sincerity of experience that makes the camera seem invisible. The directors did a very good job of connecting to their audience. I would say that although In The Turn is quite upsetting at times, it does not emphasize the same level of grief as Thank You For Playing. In The Turn maintains a somewhat more positive outlook by focusing on the joy that comes from empowerment and finding that you belong.

I would recommend In The Turn to anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t belong or if you are interested in films about social issues. If you are also interested in films about the LGBT community then you would really enjoy this one. I think that this film has a very important message and will be an excellent addition to the Fairy Tales Film Festival. I would not recommend this film to you if you are not open minded about contemporary queer and transgender issues. In The Turn will be screening as a part of the Fairy Tales Film Festival. It will be playing on Sunday, May 22, 2016 at the Plaza Theatre at 7:00pm. Crystal Labonte, the star of the documentary, will also be in attendance at the screening.

Death in Buenos Aires

Ever met a man who is so beautiful that he is able to seduce men who consider themselves to be straight? No? Well folks, you’re in for a treat. Meet Officer Gómez. You’re welcome.

 Death in Buenos Aires, the directorial debut of Natalia Meta is a fun, fast paced, Argentinean crime film.  The film is set in the 1980’s and follows Inspector Chávez (played by Demián Bichir), a straight, married man with a young son and his partner Dolores (played by Mónica Antonópulos). One night they are called to the crime scene of a wealthy older man who belongs to Buenos Aires high society. This man also happens to be gay. As Chávez and Dolores enter the residence they meet officer Gómez who had responded to a noise complaint and was told to wait until the investigator could arrive. As the case unfolds, Inspector Chávez finds himself having to explore the gay nightlife in Buenos Aires to find the suspected murderer. He gets closer to officer Gómez who, although being young and inexperienced, is determined to help them solve the case.

The thing that I suppose I love most about this film was the energy. It was so much fun to watch. It makes me smile just thinking about it. The use of bright colours was beautiful and electrifying. Actually, on second thought, pretty much everything about this film was beautiful – the setting, the actors, the cinematography, etc. Needless to say, I pretty much loved it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good crime/mystery film. There is some fairly graphic content but nothing like what I was expecting.

I also loved how light hearted Death in Buenos Aires is. Often I find that films with queer content have a tendency to become very serious because they are relaying a very important message about social acceptance and change. It is true that the message these films are conveying is important but sometimes it’s just nice to see this message expressed in a more light hearted and fun way. I think that, in some ways, this form of light-hearted expression provides the viewer with much greater insight because it brings you into the world in a very inviting and non-intimidating manner.

I’m not sure that I can think of any other film that I would compare this to. I think that this has honestly been my first exposure to queer, narrative cinema and it was divine. I will be looking forward to many more of these genre films in the future.

Death in Buenos Aires is rated 18A and therefore an adult must accompany all persons under 18 years of age wishing to attend this screening. I would recommend this film to pretty much anyone who enjoys a good, fun, and fast paced crime film. As long as you don’t mind things getting a little bit graphic in terms of sexual content you should be all right. Death in Buenos Aries will be screening as a part of the Fairy Tales Film Festival. It will be playing on Sunday, May 22, 2016 at the Plaza Theatre at 9:00pm.

Margarita With A Straw

Margarita With A Straw directed by Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar is a feature length narrative film. This story follows Laila (played by Kalki Koechlin), a young adult woman, with cerebral palsy as she navigates the trials and tribulations of becoming an adult with a physical disability. The story begins in India but Laila soon receives a scholarship to NYU and so she moves to New York with her family to attend school. On her journey of self-discovery she unexpectedly falls in love with a young woman named Khanum (played by Sayani Gupta).

I honestly cannot begin to describe how deeply this film moved me. It was so beautiful and if you have not had the pleasure of witnessing this story I don’t know what you’re waiting for. This needs to be a part of life. You will be all the better for it. The acting was superb. The story was wonderful. The script was beautiful. It was just simply perfection. Without spoiling the plot for anyone, the ending just wrapped everything up so beautifully. I was worried for a moment toward the end that the story would become too wrapped up in an extremely dramatic plot line. I thought that if the film continued down this path that it would become inauthentic but the ending more than made up for that feeling.

I connected to Laila on a somewhat unexpected emotional level. I really didn’t know what to think before going to this film but I was so pleasantly surprised. I think that everyone could relate to Laila. Regardless of whether or not you have a physical disability or confusion regarding your sexual orientation, everyone deals with the confusion that surrounds growing up and the fear of rejection. I think that everyone should go see this film because honestly, Margarita With A Straw seeped humanity in every aspect. It was warm and loving and so real. Although this film is considered queer cinema the story is so much more complex than that. This is what I thoroughly enjoy about Margarita With A Straw. The film did not get bogged down in trying to convey the confusion regarding Laila’s sexual orientation. Her journey was far more complicated than that, as anyone’s would surely be who experience the same confusion. All of the characters in the film were extremely multi-dimensional.

If I had to compare this film to another I would probably compare this to In The Turn. Both films are quite different in tone but I think that Laila and Crystal share many similarities. They are often both seen as ‘less than” in society. Crystal is seen as less because she is transgendered and Laila, because she is disabled.  They both deal with the harmful societal expectations that ultimately limit their experience and that they have to break out of.

This film is so beautiful. If you have ever struggled with any level of insecurity you should see Margarita With A Straw. This film will be screening as a part of the Fairy Tales Film Festival. It will be played on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at the Plaza Theatre at 9:00pm.

Three to Infinity

Three to Infinity: Beyond Two Genders directed by Lonny Shavelson is a full-length American documentary. This film explores the spectrum of gender possibilities in our society today. I consider myself to be a fairly open minded individual and I was shocked to find out how little I knew about the intricacies that some people define themselves by when discussing gender. This film is an extremely educational exploration into the issue of gender in our society. I enjoyed Three to Infinity in the same way that I enjoy learning about new things, which for me is a lot.

The film focused heavily on Sasha’s story, a teenager who is gender neutral. One day while Sasha was riding the bus they fell asleep and an individual approached them and proceeded to set their skirt on fire. Sasha received severe burns to their legs. They were hospitalized and had to have surgery to repair the damage. The whole community rallied behind Sasha as they recovered. Thinking back on the film, however, I just realized that there was no discussion of who the perpetrator of the crime was or if they were brought to justice. Perhaps it was thought to be dangerous to give this person any kind of exposure. Although Sasha’s was a beautiful story and an important one to be shared I found other aspects of the film infinitely more interesting.

There were a couple minutes of the film devoted to the story of three men, two of which were older white gentlemen who had defined themselves as gender neutral when they were young but had grown tired of the difficulty this had presented in their lives. Due to this they both decided to fully transition to being men in order to make their lives easier. There was also another man that was interviewed who had a similar experience except he was African American. He described his experience as exceptionally more complicated due to his race. He stated that life was hard enough being black, but to be black and gender neutral he couldn’t imagine the struggles he would face. Due to this he also fully transitioned to becoming a man. I found these portions of the film to be, without a doubt, the most interesting portions of the film and very little time was devoted to them. I could have watched an entire film just about these people and how they went through their lives.

All in all, I would recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a educational document on gender identity. I think this could be shown in any Women Studies class. This is truly the next wave of education for our society as we move to include more people in the spectrum of what is socially acceptable. Three to Infinity: Beyond Two Genders will be screening as a part of the Fairy Tales Film Festival.It will be played on Wednesday, May 25, 20167:00 PM at the Plaza Theatre, Calgary, AB.

The Grandfather of Gay Porn: Peter De Rome

The Grandfather of Gay Porn: Peter De Rome directed by Ethan Reid is a full-length documentary that shares the story of the life and work of erotic filmmaker, Peter De Rome. The documentary also marks the importance of De Rome’s work as it is celebrated and archived at the British Film Institute. I absolutely loved this film. To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect before I started watching it but the concept just sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try. I’m so glad I did. I thank Reid for introducing me to and making me see how much I simply adore Peter De Rome. He looks to be this quintessential English gentleman approaching his nineties and in many ways he really was a quintessential English gentleman. However, he discusses his love for gay porn and the various conquests of his youth with an honesty and sincerity that I found utterly refreshing. I remember watching the film and letting out a sigh of relief. Here is this man who is so unapologetically himself with no fear of the consequences and that is such a beautiful and rare thing.

It was particularly interesting to hear him discuss making amateur gay porn films in a time when it was literally illegal to be gay. Again, Rome completely disregarded the norms and expectations of his time. He had no inclination that he was doing anything profound or meaningful. He just wanted to have fun and from the sounds of it, he certainly did. It is unquestionable, however, that without meaning to or not, De Rome was making a political statement. It is perhaps, the political statements that we don’t mean to make that have the greatest influence of all. De Rome was simply being exactly who he was.

I would compare this film to Daisy: The Story of a Facelift directed by Michael Rubbo. Daisy is a short documentary that follows a middle-aged woman named Daisy de Bellefeuille. The film examines the motivations behind plastic surgery as Daisy tries to decide whether or not she will move forward with getting a facelift. De Bellefuielle is just as charming and honest as De Rome is. Both films look at sensitive subject matter through a lens of humor and sincerity that makes them refreshingly human. If you have seen and enjoyed Daisy: The Story of a Facelift you will probably really love The Grandfather of Gay Porn: Peter De Rome as well.

This film contains mature subject matter. There are various scenes taken directly from Peter De Rome’s films and shown, including softcore and hardcore gay pornography. If this is something that offends you then you should probably avoid this one. I can only say that I sincerely hope this type of content doesn’t offend you because this film is so amazing. There has recently been a resurgence of Peter De Rome’s work due to his inclusion in the British Film Institute and I am so happy that there has been because I would probably have never heard of him otherwise. I hope that you can enjoy this little gem of a film and if, like me, you had not heard of Peter De Rome before then you can see how wonderful he is as well.  

To buy tickets or find out more, please visit: http://www.fairytalesfilmfest.com/ 

Showtimes also on CalgaryMovies.com

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