Matt Salton has been the Festival Director for ReelOut Queer Film + Video Festival since 2009 with a strong history with film programming for ReelOut since 2000 and a highly profiled stint at being the Festival Director for the Fairy Tales film festival in Calgary. His tireless dedication to films, Kingston, and his ability to network with volunteers and other community organizations has seen ReelOut branch into other mediums and avenues such as the popular ReelOut Community Library of films and ReelOut in Schools along with the many individual collaborations throughout the year. He is also an old friend, so I’m glad to say I can guilt him into answering a few questions in the busiest time of the year for ReelOut.
1. Tell us about this year’s focus on Teens. There are films directed to teens, teen admission prices, and teen workshops. You even described it as a festival within a festival.
Well for the past year youth-aged representatives from Reelout have joined with various other community agencies’ youth representatives and adult-allies to work on the Kingston youth strategy report (Y2K2012) and we felt we needed to raise the profile and visibility of our young people in the city especially those youth who feel bullied, or marginalized. This is our 14th festival so we thought we’d dub it Reelout 4Teens. We received a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to help finance the films and the workshops and we’ve been working with the LGBT Youth Line and HARS to ensure that youth-aged volunteers are helping out in the planning and execution of the project. It’s been a great learning experience and I am so proud of all the fantastic work these young people have put into the project.
2. Tell us about your new corporate sponsor, RBC. Has RBC opened doors for ReelOut and queer film in Canada?
RBC approached us about being our presenting sponsor last year, they also are the presenting sponsor for the queer film festivals in Toronto and Ottawa. Last year many of the RBC Kingston bank managers attended the festival and had a great time and the Belleville RBC purchased tickets for their clients and staff. ALL of our sponsors in one way or another open doors for independent queer artists because without their financial and in-kind support, our festivals would not be able to function nor would we be able to pay all our artists whose works are screened nor would we be able to help subsidize their travel and accommodations so that they might engage with our audiences.
3. What films are you most proud of to see in this year’s festival? Are there any big hits that cannot be missed this year?
The films I’m most proud of would have to be our two youth-themed shorts packages. One is called REEL Queer Youth Shorts and that’s a free screening at noon on Saturday, Feb 2nd at The Screening Room and all the shorts were made by youth in Seattle and the other shorts package simply titled QUEER YOUTH SHORTS is at 7pm at The Screening Room and includes 3 shorts made by local emerging film and video artists including 2 from the media program at LCVI (Studio LC) and another by an LCVI graduate Kat Rush called IN SAM’S EYES that features many local Kingston actors. The other great shorts program that I’m very proud of is called SACRED GIFTS which plays at the same night/time as the Sunday youth shorts program but appeals to a different crowd. These are all shorts that were curated by the Queer Women of Colour Arts Project in San Francisco in honour of February being Black History Month and all of the films were made by independent queer women of colour.
Big hits not to be missed include some pretty big festival smashes including NORTH SEA TEXAS (Sat Feb 2 7pm) our opening gala film written and directed by GLEE’S Chris Colfer STRUCK BY LIGHTNING (Fri 1 6:30 or 9pm) and our closing film KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (Sat Feb 9 7:10pm).
4. Tell us about queer Canadian films this year. What kind of direction are Canadian films going? Any ongoing themes and anything we should keep our eye out for? Also, I’ve noticed there is a night for “mature” audiences. Are you bringing the sexy back to ReelOut?
We always aim to keep our programming at 45-50% Canadian content and bring as many of our Canadian artists to engage with our audiences. Video art (as opposed to film) still seems to be a favourite medium for Canadian artists and you can expect to see some great experimental works preceding feature films. We’re also offering some great Canadian features by emerging filmmakers like Heather Tobin’s lesbian drama ROUTE OF ACCEPTANCE and Laurie Colbert and Dominique Cardona’s family drama MARGARITA. Both films will have cast and crew in attendance!
Last year did feel a bit sex-less compared to previous years. It’s funny that I’m sure most people think of a queer film festival and envision some pretty sexy and scandalous images projected. But our community is so much more than who we choose to sleep with and people should also be reminded that we are a “queer” film festival which also encompasses “gender” which isn’t about sexual orientation but about how people gender identify and all the emotional, physical and political effects that can play into gender identification. So having recognized that, our programming team is aware that sex sells no matter who you are, and there were a few entertaining and informative films that were also super sexy so we are offering up HUMP WEDNESDAY on February 6th which consists of 3 different programs that are very sex-positive!
5. There seems to be a lot of shorts and shorter films. Are there advantages to shorter films? Can you tell us about the shorts in this year’s festival? There’s a family friendly section of the film festival; Shorts for Kids. Was there a demand for this kind of film and is family friendly queer film prolific?
I would say about 90% of our submissions are shorts. We usually only program what is submitted. Some people love the shorts programmes because they are exposed to so many diverse stories and styles in one sitting. Because our festival focuses on the independent artist, a lot of these artists don’t have the financing to make a feature-length film.
Yes! Last year’s program was fantastic. It really is exemplary of the times to have a program within a queer film festival where LGBT parents are enjoying films about gender and sexual diversity geared to kids while they let their rug rats run around the theatre and play. We had a great turn-out last year and look forward to it again! Kingston’s PFLAG (Parents Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is our community sponsor for the event so we’ll be sure to see a lot of supporters and their kids.
6. Buck Angel? Shriek Discuss!
Is that a good shriek or a bad shriek? Buck Angel is a very sexy and talented adult film star who happens to be a Trans guy. He did a great thing in making a documentary SEXING THE TRANSMAN that looks into the sexuality of trans guys and its so refreshing to see trans-docs that aren’t necessarily geared to mainstream audiences. This is a doc that was made for trans guys and their admirers first and foremost and avoids the typical trans-narratives. Buck was unable to come to the screening but he’s taped a special message for our Reelout audience.