Reel Pride Film Festival, Canada’s oldest festival of 2SLGBTQ+ films, makes its annual return with a week of screenings later this month. From Sept. 26 to 30, attendees will have the opportunity to see several films of different origins that depict different identities on the big screen.
Rose Murego, programming director at Reel Pride, said the festival has shown films with “unique, diverse content that best reflects what the LGBTQ community experiences on a daily basis” since its inception in 1985.
She said Reel Pride is important because it is the only week that 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in Manitoba can come to a cinema and see films that reflect parts of themselves. In her experience, attendees share a sense of community and are able to express themselves when they come to the film festival.
Most of the films set to screen at Reel Pride are relatively new in Canada, Murego said, and so when people come to the festival, “They will come in and watch those films they cannot watch anywhere else.”
The festival offers a cinema-going experience in which people can see themselves up on screen in a safe environment.
“Reel Pride gives people the possibility to enjoy, in a safe place, gay and lesbian and transgender films,” Murego said, adding that during the week of the event, people can come watch the films and have the freedom to feel like themselves.
The festival opens on Tuesday, Sept. 26 with its Retro Night, and there will be an art show opening at 6:30 p.m. before the day’s screenings. The two films for that evening, Blue Jean (2022) and Before I Change My Mind (2022), are both set in the 1980s. Blue Jean tells the story of a PE teacher’s experiences being closeted and living two different lives, while Before I Change My Mind revolves around a student whose gender identity is up for speculation as they form a complicated kinship with the school bully.
Wednesday, Sept. 27 will be an evening of short films starting at 7 p.m. At 10 p.m., Film Training Manitoba will be hosting a panel discussion.
The event on Thursday, Sept. 28 is titled “Soirée Cinéma” and features two gay French films, The Many Lives Of Edouard Louis (2022) and Lie With Me (2023). The Many Lives is a documentary about French writer Edouard Louis, while Lie With Me is about a novelist who is reminded of his first lover after he returns to his hometown for the first time in years.
Friday, Sept. 29 is “Date Night,” and features three international films, one British-Dutch, one Austrian and the other Russian. Silver Haze (2023) and Eismayer (2022) both tell stories of complex romances, and Queendom (2023) is a documentary about a queer artist from small-town Russia who works to combat homophobia while challenging people’s thinking on queerness and beauty.
To end the festival, Saturday, Sept. 30 is Truth and Reconciliation Day. The first film playing that night is Rosie (2022), a film set in 1980s Montreal about an orphaned Indigenous girl who is taken in by her francophone aunt. Next up is The Empress of Vancouver (2022), a film following Oliv Howe’s past that also sheds light on Vancouver and its drag scene back in the 1980s alongside the homophobic climate of the era.
Reel Pride Film Festival will be held from Sept. 26 to 30 at the Gas Station Arts Centre. See reelpride.org for tickets and more information.