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Telling and sharing stories: coming together as a community

by Michelle Pucci November 20, 2012
Telling and sharing stories: coming together as a community

Ira Sachs’ drama Keep the Lights On is screening at this year’s Image+Nation film festival. Press photo.

Montreal’s international film festival, Image+Nation, opens this Thursday, marking its 25th year of sharing films that reflect the realities of the international LGBT community.

As a part of the queer movement that swept across the western world in the ‘80s, Image+Nation was born in 1987 from a small group of volunteers who wanted to tell their stories and see themselves represented on screen.

According to Katharine Setzer, the festival’s programming director, “[The festival] is about telling stories and sharing stories [and] coming together as a community to see yourself on the screen and be among like-minded folks.”

Image+Nation, along with other North American queer film festivals, has evolved from a small volunteer-run festival to a corporately sponsored organization. For 25 years, the festival has supported a growing history of queer cinema that has developed into a mature and sophisticated filming practice.

“Queer cinema is moving away from the typical coming out story to talk about different aspects of identity and being,” said Setzer.

The festival selects films that are interesting, well-made and, most importantly, have a strong message. Setzer said when selecting films she considers, “What is [the film] saying? What is the intention and how well has the intention been resolved or put out?”

Dee Rees’ Pariah is one of three films opening the festival. Press photo.

Image+Nation opens with three critically acclaimed films: Ira Sachs’ drama about drug addictions, Keep the Lights On; Dee Rees’ coming-out and coming-of-age story, Pariah; and Paul Émile d’Entremont’s documentary about queer refugees in Canada, Une dernière chance. The festival closes with Matthew Mishory’s Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean which re-imagines the Hollywood icon’s sexual relationships.

International feature-length film screenings at the festival include: Oliver Hermanus’ Beauty, winner of the Cannes Queer Palm, the story of a self-loathing man’s struggle with his repressed sexuality; Bye Bye Blondie by Virginie Despentes, the tale of Gloria (Béatrice Dalle) and Frances (Emmanuelle Béart), who try to rekindle their 30-year-old romance; and Negar Azarbayjani’s drama Facing Mirrors, the first Iranian film to deal with transgender issues.

The Image+Nation’s documentary series includes Yariv Mozer’s The Invisible Men, highlighting the plight of political-asylum-seeking queer Palestinians along with the collaboration between Louis Bouchard, Richard Bradley, and Guy Tay Tremblay, La face cachée des bars de danseurs nus de Montréal, a historical portrait of Montreal gay strip clubs.

Once again, the festival presents its series of international short films Lesbomundo and Homomundo as well as the short works of Montreal filmmakers in the program, Queerment Quebec.

Image+Nation’s Vanguard series pays homage to activists of the queer movement. The lineup this year includes: Les invisibles, about gays and lesbians born between the two World Wars; Call Me Kuchu, the protest of an anti-gay bill led by David Kato, the first openly gay man in Uganda; and Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984-1992, a documentary on the visits made to Berlin by activist, essayist and poet, Audre Lorde.

The Image+Nation film festival takes place from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2 at Cinéma du Parc and Cinéma Beaubien. Tickets are $11.75 ($8.75 for students with ID). For showtimes and more information visit image-nation.org

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