September, 2012 / Author:

Reel Pride has a lot to be proud of!

For 25 years the men and women behind the Reel Pride film festival have brought some of the very best of GLBTTQ* cinema from around the world home to Winnipeg, much to the delight of their audiences. Reel Pride is celebrating its silver anniversary with all new programs and an expansion into more than just the cinematographic arts. This year’s festival is set to include other visual arts, panel discussions, video projects created by local youth and documentaries and short films which explore an even broader rainbow than in previous years. Now in its third year at the Gas Station Arts Centre, REEL Pride boasts  a six-day schedule with a broad spectrum of events and showings covering topics from GLBTTQ* refugees to positive youth. Each day provides an array of options from romantic comedies to documentaries and everything in between. 

Kicking off the festival this year on Oct. 9, 8-10 p.m., is Beyond the Celluloid, a Queer Visual Extravaganza. Open to all, this free event will highlight the importance of visual arts and entertainment such as photography, painting, burlesque and more. Opening the festival this year with an explosion of visual arts which will take festival goers beyond the celluloid, festival organizers hope, will highlight the diverse mediums which the GLBTTQ* community uses to express who they are. In Winnipeg, a diverse and artistic city, many local artists share identities and express those in various artistic forms, many of which are eventually incorporated into film projects. This event brings together artists from all genres in a single show of artistic expression of what it means to be part of the GLBTTQ* community. 

Also new to this year`s program is Make it Better Public Service Announcements on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m.  This event, which draws its inspiration from recent campaigns such as It Gets Better will be a contest with prizes awarded for the best public service announcement. Working with Winnipeg Film Group, Rainbow Resource Centre and Various GSA organizations from around the city, Reel Pride will bring together public service announcements created by local GLBTTQ* youth. The audience will view all of the projects and will get to choose the winner. “We have seen what some youth have done in taking on the challenge of talking about It gets better and Make it better,” says Eric Plamondon, marketing and communications chair for Reel Pride, “so we thought it was time to give them a full slot in our festival to truly give them a voice. I have no doubt they will not disappoint.”  Show and competition will be followed by a panel discussion. 

Returning to this year’s festival, another contest now in its ninth year, the Canadian GLBTTQ* Short Films Competition kicks off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10. There will be a jury prize for best short film and an audience prize will be presented as well. While the ballots are being counted, the audience will view a short drama called Foucault’s Room about a young Polish man who, while drunk on vodka one day in 1958, is taken in by the famous French (and famously homosexual) philosopher. 

Also returning this year is Reel Pride’s presenting sponsor, RBC, which will be bringing Date Night to the festival for Friday, Oct. 12. The evening features two films, The Perfect Family at 7 p.m. and Weekend at 9 p.m. The Perfect Family follows suburban supermom Eileen Cleary (Kathleen Turner) who is about to receive the Catholic Woman of the Year Award and must face the truth about her family; with her lesbian daughter about to marry her life partner and an unhappily married son who is having an affair with a local manicurist. A funny and irreverent look at the modern family, this drama tackles issues of conformity and acceptance and the effect of our families’ faith on our lives while showing the funny side of family life. 

Weekend, an unconventional love story, follows the journey of Russell (Tom Cullen) as he meets Glen (Chris New) at a gay club, but what is expected to be only a one night stand becomes something much more. Winner of the 2011 Grand Jury Award at Outfest, Weekend is certainly set to make this Friday night perfect for either a first date or a wonderful night out with your long time partner. Following the film at 11:00 pm, sponsored by Queer Media Group, is QueerViews Presents: A Series of Queer Short Films which highlight trans women, genderqueers and short film directors who go well beyond the binary concept of male and female. Tickets from the QueerViews Presents showing will also get festival goers free admittance to an official after party at Gio’s. 

Finally, returning to Reel Pride for his second year in a row, actor and now director Charlie David will be on hand for a question and answer period following the screening of his directorial debut Positive Youth on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. Having visited Winnipeg in 2011 for a screening of Judas Kiss at last year’s Reel Pride Festival, David returns having now directed a documentary that follows four HIV-positive youth in four different North American cities to uncover why youth transmission rates for the disease are still the highest. With medical experts weighing in and historical context used to uncover the reality of living with HIV at a young age in today’s society, this film is not to be missed. 

The festival continues to grow and change each year, and now with 19 festivals and in it’s 25th year it is clear that Reel Pride is a staple in both Winnipeg’s GLBTTQ* and Arts communities. And what is the reason for the festival’s success these 25 years? “Hard to tell. But simply, people like movies” says Plamondon. “[Film] allows for stories that will resonate with an audience that is part of a larger community that understands and interacts with its queer community members. This also speaks to the current state of queer cinema. The quality of the movies and our evolution towards social acceptance means that the general public can and wants to access these movies since they are not always picked up by main-stream movie theatres. Essentially, it allows for like-minded people to gather and be inspired by stories that are worth sharing.”

For complete festival schedule and event details visit The festival runs from Oct. 9-14 at the Gas Stattion Arts Centre, 445 River Ave Tickets can be purchased at the door or reserved through

— Jason van Rooy is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer.

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