canadian film festivals teaser
canadian film festivals teaser

Northern Exposure: 4 Queer Film Festivals Coming to Canada This Fall

With several LGBTQ film festivals taking place in the United States on a seemingly monthly basis, when does the American queer film buff get to go abroad? Well, Fall 2017 is shaping up to be the ideal time and Canada the prime destination. Between Mid-October and early December, America’s neighbor to the north is hosting queer film festivals in four major cities.

We caught up with representatives from Reel Pride (Winnipeg), Rainbow Visions (Edmonton), Inside Out (Ottawa) and image+nation (Montréal) to find out what makes their respective festivals special, what kind of movie-lovers typically attend and their top picks for 2017.


1. Reel Pride, Winnipeg

canadian film festivals tom of finland
Tom of Finland

Reel Pride is one of two festivals on our list taking place in Western Canada. From Oct. 16–21, Manitoba’s capital city of Winnipeg plays host to this festival.

What makes this festival unique?

“At 32 years, we are one of the oldest continuously operating LGBTTQ* film societies in Canada and North America,” says Barb Burkowski, Reel Pride’s incoming president. “We pride ourselves on being community driven.”

“We put a lot of energy into the diversity of our programming and work to find films that would not likely be seen in Winnipeg otherwise,” Barb says.

What can you tell us about audience demographics for your festival?

“We did an audience survey a few years back and were pleased with the fact it reflects the diversity of our city. We see an age range from teens to 80s, and appeal to both male and female moviegoers,” Barb says. “Over the past five years, we have put significant energy into finding stories that speak to the experience of the transgender community and those who may identify on a broader gender spectrum.”

What kind of films play well at your festival?

“Reel Pride hosts the 14th annual Best Canadian LGBTTQ* short film competition,” Barb says, “which draws a huge number of submissions from across the country and remains one of the most popular elements of the festival.”

Barb’s top film picks for this year’s festival:

The Untold Stories of Armistead Maupin, Out Run, Close-Knit, Tom of Finland, God’s Own Country, A Date for Mad Mary and Princess Cyd.


2. Rainbow Visions, Edmonton

canadian film festivals signature move
Signature Move

Our second Western Canada film festival, Rainbow Visions, happens Nov. 2-5 in Alberta’s capital of Edmonton. It’s a rather new festival, having only launched in 2015.

What makes this festival unique?

“Until we launched Rainbow Visions three years ago, Edmonton was the only major or mid-sized city in Canada without an LGBTQ film festival,” says Guy Lavallee, Rainbow Visions’ program director. “My long-standing relationships with filmmakers and distributors around the world has allowed us to put together top-notch programming, year after year, giving Edmonton audiences a truly memorable festival experience.”

What can you tell us about audience demographics for your festival?

“In Year 1, our audience makeup definitely skewed a bit older, but in Year 2 we saw a large influx in younger attendees,” Guy says. “Part of this was the programming, but part of it was also just getting out into the local community more and more to spread the word about the festival.”

What kind of films play well at your festival?

“Last year, for instance, if I were to take our four most popular and well-attended features, two of them were docs, and two of them were narratives,” says Guy. “I think audiences here tend to go for ‘quality’ over ‘genre.'”

Guy’s top film picks for this year’s festival:

God’s Own Country, Signature Move, In Between and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.


3. Inside Out, Ottawa

canadian film festivals god's own country
God’s Own Country

From Nov. 10–12, Canada’s capital, Ottawa, hosts the more intimate Inside Out film festival, a sister festival to its bigger and older sibling fest in Toronto.

What makes this festival unique?

“With only 14 programs over three days in one venue, it’s extremely immersive,” says Andria Wilson, Inside Out’s executive director. “The program is truly the best of the best, pulling from both our Toronto festival hits and recent releases, and audiences get up close and personal access to our visiting filmmakers through Q&As and meet ups in our onsite festival lounge.”

What can you tell us about audience demographics for your festival?

“Historically, both films centering on men’s and women’s stories have sold quite well in Ottawa, and we see strong attendance from young audiences as well thanks to our involvement in local youth events,” Andria says.

What kind of films play well at your festival?

“While the narrative features are typically the biggest sellers, our documentary and shorts programs create incredible opportunities for conversation and engagement,” says Andria. “This year we’re presenting a 100% Canadian content shorts program, which we’re extremely excited by.”

Andria’s top film picks for this year’s festival:

God’s Own Country, Signature Move, A Fantastic Woman and The Feels.


4. image+nation, Montréal

canadian film festivals grace jones
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

French Canada and the province of Quebec play host to image+nation in the cosmopolitan city of Montréal starting Nov. 23 and ending Dec. 3. This year marks the fest’s 30th anniversary.

What makes this festival unique?

“Celebrating our 30th anniversary, image+nation is the oldest queer [film] festival in Canada,” says Charlie Boudreau, image+nation’s executive director. “image+nation highlights the vibrant and diverse culture of Montréal, offering festival goers a Quebec ‘take’ on queer storytelling.”

What can you tell us about audience demographics for your festival?

“The festival audience represents all members of the LGBTQ demographics, varying in ages and genders. We do have a very loyal audience that in some ways has grown up with the festival over three decades, and with each edition new (younger) audience members are added,” Charlie says.

What kind of films play well at your festival?

“Our audience is a cinephile audience that favors complex and rich films with challenging and original stories,” says Charlie. “We place prime importance on including a large amount of international titles in each addition that will give voice to specific cultural voices and experiences from LGBTQ peoples from around the world.”

Charlie’s top film picks for this year’s festival:

Call Me by Your Name, Chavela, Signature Move, God’s Own Country, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami and Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall.


Featured image by Sisoje via iStock