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Calgary’s Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival returns this year better than ever

By Ansharah Shakil, June 17 2023—

The 25th Annual Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival will take place from June 9th to June 18th at Globe Cinema in downtown Calgary. As the longest-running queer film festival in Calgary, the Fairy Tales Festival has an important and distinctive legacy. This is the second year the festival has come back in-person since it shut down for the pandemic. 

Director of the Calgary Queer Arts Society and the Fairy Tales Queer Festival, Marissa Cupples, expressed her excitement for this landmark anniversary of the festival in an interview with the Gauntlet

“It’s just an honour to be part of something that has such a long legacy and a long period of growth for queer people and artists in Alberta and Calgary,” Cupples said. 

25 years ago, a few volunteers from the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) put on a one-weekend festival to see queer films in Calgary at a time when nothing like that existed. Then, as Cupples explained, it blossomed over 25 years to become a 10-day international film festival. 

As a nod to this history and the origins of the festival, the Calgary Queer Arts Society is doing a special collaboration night with CSIF during the festival’s runtime. Full-length movies, musicals and documentaries are scheduled throughout the festival alongside numerous shorts packages. The process of choosing films is intensive, with contributions from a huge team of volunteer programmers of queer people in the community or even outside of Calgary.

“[When choosing films] we prioritize self-identified queer filmmakers and artists who in some way are working on the project,” Cupples said. “We sometimes debate how queer the content has to be, but it’s about telling queer stories because people want to see themselves represented on screen.”

Cupples encourages people to go see one or more films at the festival no matter how they personally identify or what movies they enjoy.

“There’s such a large variety of films: musicals, experimental horror, lots of documentaries,” she said. “There’s truly something for every taste in film, and no matter what, if you go to a film festival, I think you’re going to learn something from it. You’re going to have an opportunity to see a different perspective or think about something in a different way.”

Another reason the festival is so exciting is that most of the films being shown are exclusive to the festival and unable to be seen online, especially when it comes to the shorts packages. Cupples named the Saturday, June 17th Fairy Tales Fun House: Subversive Shorts night as her most anticipated film showing. 

“It’s basically like the films that don’t fit anywhere else, that are unconventional — experimental art films, cult movies, midnight movies, the weirder fringe of cinema,” she explained.

The venue of the festival, Globe Cinema, is one of only a few remaining independent theatres in Calgary. Cupples agreed that it was important to be supporting independent theatres just as much as the festival supports independent artists.

“We support independent artists and filmmakers in Calgary, and independent films, independent cinemas, [in order to] give work to independent artists,” she said. “It’s a huge blessing to be able to show at the Globe Cinema.”

The extensive films scheduled to be shown throughout June promise to stay true to the original spirit of the festival and to continue supporting independent and local work as well as the queer community in a safe, welcoming space.

Cupples named having a community and having people come together to feel represented and connected, or to learn about others’ perspectives, as one of the most important ideals behind the festival.

“Bringing people together to just connect not only with the art but with each other is such a huge part of it, the rewarding part, why we work so hard to do these things,” she said.  

Details about the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival, including the 2023 schedule and ticket or festival passes, can be found here.

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