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Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival presents a well-rounded and impactful selection of films 

By Ansharah Shakil, July 8 2024—

The 26th Annual Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival, Calgary’s longest-running queer film festival with a rich and valuable history, took place this year from June 27 to June 30 at The Grand downtown. Presented by the Calgary Queer Arts Society, it presented 33 short films and seven feature films. Despite occurring over a shorter period of time this year, the festival retained its exploration of complex matters and queer representation.

“There are not a lot of places in the world where we get to come together as queer individuals and see each other in space and on screen, and here are stories told unapologetically in a room filled with queer joy where we get to support each other as artists, as friends, as family members,” said Shone Thistle, Calgary’s current Poet Laureate and Executive Director of Calgary’s Queer Arts Society. 

New this year was the Queer Arts Exhibition and Maker’s Market, free to enter in the lobby of the Grand. 

“It’s so important for us to use independent theatre and to access space as welcoming as the Grand,” Thistle said. “The reason we chose the Grand was because of its wheelchair accessibility but we also have a lot of accessibility measures we’ve implemented this year, because we’re a learning organisation and we want to be welcoming for everyone.”

In addition to their many past events, Thistle said that in August the Calgary Queer Arts Society will have a partnership with BUMP Festival for the largest pride mural painted in the Beltline region, including a launch event with a barbecue. 

On June 29, the festival showcased films like the 2022 Korean movie Peafowl, but also presented one of its numerous shorts packages, Queer & Kin: Stories on Parents and Parenthood. Queer & Kin is an excellently curated and diverse selection of short films which discuss queer parenthood and the relationships of queer individuals to their parents. 

The shorts package began with the Canadian premiere of Ludvig C.N. Poulsen’s A Boy’s Dream / Drømmedreng, a short film depicting the touching journey of newly graduated psychologist Elias deciding to pursue his dream of parenthood by fostering a child named William. Throughout the film we see Elias’s seemingly perfect but actually complex relationship with his partner, and his determination to give William a loving home. This film, alongside the French film The Red Panda Temptation / La Tentation Du Panda Roux, is an example of how the shorts package doesn’t hesitate to show queer individuals desiring to become parents, even if they break up with their partner or their partner doesn’t feel the same way about parenthood. The approach of both films to this topic is careful, intimate and heartfelt. 

Appearing in The Red Panda Temptation is Alisson Chassagne, who also stars in Life in Canada / La Vie Au Canada, another film presented in the shorts package. Life in Canada follows Chassagne as Sarah, a woman who’s travelled to her parents’ for the weekend with her wife’s daughter Hermione. Sarah’s partner is preparing for a move to Canada, and Sarah is unable to explain to her family why she stayed at home — she’s leaving Sarah, and Sarah won’t be going to Canada with Hermione. The fact that Sarah’s parents are divorced makes this revelation even more impactful, and by the time Sarah tells Hermione the truth, the audience is as crushed as the both of them. 

Not only is Life in Canada filled with riotous humour — Sarah’s misadventures learning how to drive and the dry wit of her brother had the entire audience laughing out loud — its exploration of familial relationships is frank and relatable. Hermione’s actress is absolutely incredible — she performs an immediately endearing and multifaceted character. 

Other films in the package include the French short Your Daughter / Ta Fille, following a daughter’s discovery of her father’s life as a drag queen, the excellent Canadian short film Plant Daddy and the Alberta premiere of the profound, poetic hi ading. A standout is Fateema Al-Hamaydeh Miller’s عطر/ Eitr, a Canadian short film about Mohamed, a closeted Arab man working in his father’s perfume shop whose life changes when a charming, confident stranger walks in. Like Mohamed, his father has recently died, but unlike Mohamed, he is at peace with his identity. 

When he gives Mohamed his number before leaving, there’s one moment where Mohamed burns it up, one split-second in which everyone in the audience is thinking no, don’t! over a title card reading “End” in English and Arabic — before sound rushes back in and he leaps out of the store to go after him. The heart-warming ending is the cherry on top of the cake for the delightful, hilarious and authentic short film that Eitr is. 

To learn more about this shorts package and the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival, visit their website. Learn more about the Calgary Queer Arts Society and their upcoming events here.  

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