Pink Lobster showcases LGBT filmmakers
Robert Gray says that in a world where the LGBT community is increasingly coming under attack, having a space for the community to tell their stories is important.
"We've left COVID … many of us feeling very isolated," said Gray, a professor of film at UNB and the producer of the Pink Lobster film festival.
"And then to have the world trying to drive people into isolation and separate people, I think it becomes a radical act to show up and sit down and watch our stories and watch other people's stories."
The Fredericton festival showcases the films of local, national and international LGBT filmmakers.
The festival has grown since its first edition six years ago and is returning to an in-person event for the first time since 2020.
Here are some local filmmakers being showcased at the festival.
Farlaques by Julien Cadieux
Moncton filmmaker Julien Cadieux created an experimental silent film titled Farlaques.
The title is an old Acadian term which roughly translates to "promiscuous woman" in English.
The film showcases in black and white two men hooking up on a nighttime beach on the east coast of the province.
Cadieux says he was told the beach was a popular hook up location for gay men before the days of dating apps and more liberal views of homosexuality.
"I exploded that very touristic image of the beach that we have," said Cadieux.
"This is New Brunswick … this bucolic image that we have [seen] through the lens of a sexuality that was prohibited."
SILK by Lance Kenneth Blakney
Blakney's abstract film showcases Heather Silk, one of the province's most recognized drag queens.
The film's arrival at the festival comes at a peculiar time when the art form of drag is coming under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Events like drag storytimes often held at public libraries are increasingly drawing angry protests, along with often larger counter protests, and several jurisdictions have moved to criminalize drag performances.
The Fredericton-based filmmaker said it is a little surreal to see drag coming under attack.
"It's puzzling to me as a queer person because it's something with such a strong legacy," said Blakney.
He said those in the drag community have long fought for equal rights, and now "to watch people try to strip those rights away and paint them as these predators or groomers, it's mind-boggling really. I don't understand."
Picture Yourself by Tracey Lavigne
Picture Yourself is a short drama where themes about the LGBT community and mental health collide.
The film tells the story of a woman with agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder linked with specific places that may cause panic, attending a funeral with her partner.
Fredericton director Tracey Lavigne says the film is personal to her as it speaks to her sense of being, as both a member of the LGBT community and someone who struggles with their mental health.
"As someone who's lived with an anxiety disorder for my whole adult life … it's put limits on my life at certain times," said Lavigne.
"I wanted to explore that kind of gulf between you and other people in your life when you're affected by this epidemic of anxiety."
Space for stories
While other film festivals often showcase films from LGBT filmmakers with LGBT themes, Gray thinks it's important to have a festival dedicated to telling these stories.
"We all benefit from queerness and feeling uncomfortable and being challenged and seeing that there's so many more paints in the palette for expression," said Gray.
"We want children that aren't scared of what's different. We want children that are excited to express and love others. I think that begins with events like this."
Cadieux agrees it's important for LGBT filmmakers to have a spot to show their work but also thinks Pink Lobster is important because it shows LGBT art exists outside the big cities and in rural provinces.
"We're from Atlantic Canada and it's nice to see ourselves," said Cadieux. "We have a different perspective on what it is to be LGBTQ2S."
The Pink Lobster Film Festival begins Saturday night and continues March 22-24.