Queerement Quebec Image+Nation

Image+Nation film fest showcases local shorts with Queerment Quebec

Montreal’s 34th annual festival of LGBT2SQ+ cinema is on through Nov. 28.

The 34th annual Image+Nation Film Festival will present an exciting line-up of over 100 films from around the world, offering screenings both in-person and online from Nov. 18 to 28 at Cinéma Impérial.

Despite last year’s entirely virtual format, the festival proved to be a hit. This shift to an online format encouraged Program Director Kat Setzer and the team to incorporate, perhaps permanently, a more accessible model that will allow anyone within the province to enjoy queer cinema.

“Last year, as we know, was kind of a strange year. I think the entire worldwide festival landscape had to figure out how to go virtual,” Setzer explained. “Virtual platforms seem like a totally normal thing now but last year it was like, what is it? How do we make this? So there was a steep learning curve, but I think that the experience of last year has allowed us to create an extremely rich and varied audience experience this year.”

The festival is set to open with Wildhood, a film from Two-Spirit filmmaker Bretten Hannam that explores brotherly love, belonging and self-knowledge. Many of this year’s films will explore issues related to identities and queer history.

One aspect that Setzer is particularly excited about this year is the festival’s 20th live edition of Queerment Quebec, a program offering nine shorts from a diverse set of Quebec filmmakers. “What I think our whole team missed last year was Queerment Quebec because it has been, for a number of years, an extremely special night,” explained Setzer. “It’s one of our signature events […] it’s more than just going to watch a collection of shorts, it’s really a full evening of engagement and dialogue on stage, kind of à la Graham Norton Couch. It’s a brilliant formula — I would not change a thing.” Queerment Quebec will take place at the PHI Centre (315 St-Paul) on Nov. 22, 7 p.m.

Setzer urges this year’s audiences to turn their attention to the program’s selection of shorts, as the format of a short film can be much more versatile than a feature format. Several noteworthy picks among the program’s roster include Talk to Me, Chants D’amour, and Girls Shouldn’t Walk Alone at Night.

Talk to Me is an eccentric 14-minute short from filmmaker Jules de Niverville that incorporates acrobatics and dance. The film is attention-grabbing from the very start, and de Niverville manages to craft a whimsical, non-verbal narrative about “not fitting in, but in an over-the-top kind of way.” The filmmaker is thrilled about the acknowledgement that this film has garnered, with it being featured at numerous festivals and earning three awards. 

“It was quite a Tour de France in terms of the amount of creative synergy that came on board. I’ve worked for many years in the arts department in film and the visual language is really key to me in addressing my messages, especially if it has no dialogue,” said de Niverville. “I really had an exceptional crew and an exceptional team of artists that I couldn’t have done it without.”

Clocking in with one of the shortest running times at the festival this year, Mathilde’s Chants D’amours is a three-minute short that presents an array of homophobic and transphobic slurs in six different languages. Mathilde considers this film to be a sort of love song to those who have been at the receiving end of these slurs. “These words were insults that my friend and I received during our lives. I also took some of them from Montreal newspapers,” Mathilde explained. “I wanted to use them so that we can reclaim them, so we can be stronger.” 

Katerina Barbeau’s coming of age short Girls Shouldn’t Walk Alone at Night will also be featured at the Queerment Quebec program. This 17-minute film follows characters Delphine and Chantal as they walk home alone together following a late-night high school graduation party. 

“What I missed so much while growing up were love stories between girls and women,” explained Barbeau. “My response to this lack of representation was to create an intimacy between female characters, so Girls Shouldn’t Walk Alone at Night was an exercise in this direction.” Barbeau hopes that this film will resonate with viewers and encourage them to express themselves as freely as the characters do. 

With its diverse content, authentic queer representations and international scope, this year’s Image+Nation will offer a little something for everyone regardless of their cinematic taste. Setzer believes that the festival model needs a reshape since people now get their content in a variety of ways. “The power of the virtual is one that we really want to harness and have wanted to for a number of years,” said Setzer. “I think that it’s the future of festivals.” ■

Queerment Quebec takes place at PHI Centre (315 St-Paul) on Monday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m., $13 in-person/$6 online. For more information on the festival, please visit Image+Nation’s website.

For more film and TV coverage, please visit the Film & TV section.