Sunday, 24 May 2009

Two Unique Film Festivals: Mark Them In Your Calendar

The Women of the Toronto International Deaf Film & Arts Festival (left to right): Jill Andrew (publicist), Tracey Salaway (dir. The Story of Ch'ien-niang), Catherine MacKinnon (Festival Director), Catherine Miller (producer) and partner Ann Calamia (writer/director)of the Opening Night film, Universal Signs.

With the over-abundance of film festivals that Toronto has to offer, I want to shine the spotlight briefly on two that occur in the merry month of May: Toronto's Inside Out LGBTT Film Festival and Toronto International Film & Arts Festival (TIDFAF). Both festivals outreach to specific audiences as well as their allies.

Inside Out has come a long way in its 19 years, and I wanted to see what my listeners would think of the festival. I offered up a pass to the festival and invited Gyles (pass winner and lead vocalist for JamesKing) to share her thoughts on the festival. Gyles is a gay-positive, Black woman, and a major fan of the Black gay comedy series, Noah's Arc, but she had never attended Inside Out. I think a lot of people are in her position, where they plan to go, but never get around to it. Let's face it, Toronto has a lot of distractions.

Gyles had a great time at the festival, even though she was disappointed by a couple of the films she saw. Still she would attend the festival again, and intends to make a point of it next year, now that she has broken her attendance record. She especially related to the film, THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK, the documentary about San Francisco's openly gay politician, Harvey Milk. Maybe next year, more allies of the LGBTT community will be like Gyles, and come out to Inside Out.

Unlike Inside Out, the Toronto International Deaf Film & Arts Festival (TIDFAF)is in its infancy, but Festival Director, Catherine MacKinnon has high hopes for it's growth. MacKinnon, several talented filmmakers, and a simultaneous interpreter took a break from screenings across the street at Innes Town Hall to join me in studio.

TIDFAF was my introduction to deaf culture, and although I didn't get a chance to attend, I was impressed by the line up of films. What's it like to fight for the use of using sign language in Portugal after having it surpressed for over 200 years (10 YEARS OF PORTUGUES SIGN LANGUAGE RECOGNITION)? How did deaf people react to Sept. 11th--did the hearing community think about them (911 FEAR IN SILENCE)? What does a deaf holocaust survivor have to tell us about life in a concentration camp (ANNA'S SILENT STRUGGLE)? The next TIDFAF takes place in 2011.

Over the upcoming months, I am going to make an effort to incorporate more deaf culture into TMTM. Let's all continue to learn about ourselves and each other as we explore the arts together.

Photo Credit: all photos by donna g

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