The month of June is LGBT Pride Month, and here in Greater Sudbury, you can mark the occasion by attending the third annual Queer North Film Festival, which runs June 14-17.
Put on by Sudbury Downtown Indie Cinema Co-op, with all screenings taking place at the McEwen School of Architecture, Queer North is the only queer film festival in Northern Ontario.
Featuring 11 full-length films, not to mention shorts, social occasions and educational talks, it celebrates the diversity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and two-spirited communities through quality cinema.
Beth Mairs, managing director of the cinema co-op, said in the festival's third year, it has expanded by about 25 per cent.
She said she was getting submissions of so many high-quality films from around the world, it was difficult to turn them down.
Mairs said there's some “beautiful gems” of films that have queer themes that have been shown in some of the top-tier film festivals around the world recently, and she's bringing in some of those films.
Anyone who loves cinema would enjoy attending Queer North, she said. Mairs said the film festival is also important to the queer community to see themselves represented onscreen, as well as their allies.
“For Sudburians and people in the region who do identify as gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, two-spirited, they will find their stories represented on the big screen, to some degree,” Mairs said.
“Or they'll appreciate the fact that when you have people who identify as queer as the storytellers, as the filmmakers, that you start to diverge from the stereotypical depictions and tokenistic depictions we see in Hollywood.”
The festival opens Thursday evening with the 2018 film “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” about a teenage girl, who, in 1993, is forced into a gay conversion therapy centre by her conservative guardians.
Mairs said she wanted to allow local LGBT youth to take in the screening for free, so she made a call-out for donations.
So far she has received donations of about $600, plus the film's distributor, Sudbury native Michael Boyuk, waived the licensing fee to help with the initiative.
“I would never call this a teen film,” she said.
“However, because teenagers are the central characters, it's a film we've really wanted to get LGBT youth out to.”
If you'd like to donate to help local youth attend the June 14 screening, you can do that online through Event Brite (click on the tickets button).
Queer North also features several other films that are recent hits on the film festival circuit.
That includes “Call Me By Your Name,” screening Friday, about a romance in 1980s Italy between a student and a research assistant.
Screening Saturday is “God's Own Country,” about a Yorkshire farmer who has an intense relationship with a Romanian migrant worker there for lambing season.
On Sunday afternoon, the 1999 film “Pinko Triangle” is being screened. After the screening, there will be a talk by those involved in the film.
In the film, two self-proclaimed “homos” discuss what it was like growing up in Sudbury in the 1980-90s as they were forming their queer identities.
The closing feature on Sunday is “Transformer,” about former US Marine and world record weightlifter Matt "Kroc" Kroczaleski, who was publicly outed as being transgender.
For tickets or more information, visit Sudbury Downtown Indie Cinema Co-op's website.