The Out North Queer Film Festival is all grown up.
That’s what it feels like, according to Rian Turner, artistic director of the event, now in its seventh year.
The festival runs from Thursday, Nov. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 4.
“We’re really excited that we’re thriving as a festival and that we’re successful enough to add another day,” said Turner. “There were just so many films this year that we wanted to have, we got to the end and thought ‘we just can’t squeeze all these films in.’ So we’re having a pre-festival on the Thursday night.”
That pre-festival event, along with Sunday screenings, will take place at the North of Ordinary Experience Center. The Friday night gala and the Saturday screenings will take place at the Beringia Centre, the standard venue for the festival.
Turner said something else that’s changed in recent years are the demographics of the festival. In the early days of Out North, audience members were mostly aged 40 to 60. In recent years, she said that has shifted toward those between 20 and 40.
Turner said she thinks the housing boom is part of the reason for this, coupled with the city’s strides toward fostering inclusivity in the community. She pointed to the pride parade, and the permanent rainbow and transgender flags painted on the crosswalks at Main Street and Third Avenue.
“We’re kind of exploding as a community (in Whitehorse) and it just means that we have more of a queer community moving here.”
Turner said that’s a feeling she thinks comes across at the festival as well.
“The one thing we hear year after year is that people love this festival because it does have this beautiful grassroots feeling,” she said. “It’s kind of like a big family.”
She said when people come out to the fest, they see volunteers and viewers they recognize from day-to-day life, which creates a feeling of allyship and community.
Another way the festival aims to do that is by screening family-friendly films on Sunday.
This year, the Sunday feature is a musical called Saturday Church. The film focuses on a 14-year old boy who is struggling with gender identity when he finds a transgender community.
Because of its family-friendly nature, it will also be the film that travels to Dawson City, Faro and Haines Junction later this year.
If you’re looking for a less PG option, Turner said that’s what you’ll find with Mapplethorpe on the Saturday night. The documentary, which Turner said has “huge sexual content,” is about photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, whose work in the ‘60s and ‘70s focused on BDSM culture.
It’s one of six features and four shorts on the festival schedule.
Another is The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, that film about a teen girl in the ‘90s being forced into a gay conversion therapy centre. This is one of the festival’s most recent films, having just screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in June.
It will screen during the Friday night gala, along with Papercut, an Australian short about two closeted actors fighting in the backseat of a car on the way to their first high-profile awards event.
Producer Manon Lewis will be on hand to introduce the Australian film.
In addition to Australia, Turner said countries represented by the films this year include New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada.
The Fruit Machine, for example, is a Canadian documentary from director Sarah Fodey.
“This film is creating a massive stir in Canada just because it’s exposing the Canadian Armed Forces and the treatment of the LGBTQ community,” said Turner.
Fodey will be on hand all weekend, and will participate in a Q&A.
While Turner said programming is heavy on coming-of-age and social justice (“It seems in this town that social justice documentaries do very well here. Give the Yukoners pitchforks and away they go!”), she said she thinks there’s something for everyone across the 10 films.
“We want everyone to be able to see themselves on the big screen,” she said.
The schedule is being finalized, but information will soon be available online. Tickets will also be available online, as the festival moves to a zero-waste model, which includes exclusively digital marketing, and asking viewers to bring water bottles for beverages at the festival itself. Individual tickets, as well as the $60 weekend pass will be listed on Eventbrite, and linked via the festival’s Facebook page.
Contact Amy Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org