OUT North comes of age

Contemplating what to write about this weekend’s OUT North Film Festival, which runs from April 17 to 19 at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, my brain landed on the word “age”, and stubbornly refused to budge.

So, with apologies for the occasional reach, what follows is a quick tour of how the thread of age, in various guises, weaves through OUT North 2015.

For starters, this will be the fourth annual festival, and co-founder Fiona Griffin is satisfied with how the event is maturing. “I think it’s a sign of how we’ve grown, that this year we welcome RBC Royal Bank as our first ever presenting sponsor,” says Griffin, who is the president of Yukon Queer Film Alliance (YQFA), the organization behind OUT North.

“YQFA relies heavily on the support of the Yukon Government, through the Arts Fund. But having RBC on board has allowed us to dream bigger and brighter. “We are proud of our commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activities coastto-coast, and thrilled to sponsor the OUT North Film Festival,” says Jerilynn Daniels, senior manager, community investment, with RBC. “Diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of our culture at RBC, and it’s our privilege to support partners like YQFA in creating awareness of LGBT culture and film in Canada.”

The festival opens Friday with a Canadian film, Tru Love, which explores the notion that attraction transcends age, and that risking love can be terrifying at any stage of life. Tru is 37 and unable to commit to a relationship or a job. That is, until she meets Alice, a beautiful widow who is in town to visit her daughter. Suzanne is a workaholic lawyer who has a conflicted relationship with her mother and a complicated past with Tru. After witnessing an intimate moment between Alice and Tru, Suzanne tries to sabotage the budding romance but her efforts backfire, with dramatic results.

Tru Love co-writer, producer, and director Kate Johnston will be at the gala reception preceding the screening. There are two films Saturday evening. The Way He Looks is a gentle coming-of-age story by Brazilian director, Daniel Ribeiro. Leonardo is a blind teenager chafing against what he perceives as overprotective parents. His everyday life, his relationship with best friend, Giovana, and his nascent sexuality all change with the arrival of a new student, Gabriel.

Der Kreis (The Circle) is a Swiss docudrama that depicts the final years of what was a pioneering era of gay emancipation spanning the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. The organization Der Kreis was based in Zurich but had a network throughout Europe and even the United States.

Sunday’s program starts with a collection of six short films from Australia, Germany, the US, India, and Iqaluit, ranging in length from two to 19 minutes.

The festival closes with Boy Meets Girl, a romantic comedy by Eric Schaeffer (Never Again, Mind the Gap). Ricky is a transgender girl, Robby is her best friend from childhood, Francesca is a young debutante waiting for her Marine fiancé to return from overseas. Their lives entwine in a confusing, exhilarating stumble across gender and sexual orientation lines. Ricky is played beautifully by first time actress Michelle Hendley, herself a transgender woman. As one reviewer noted, “Hendley exudes the kind of effortless screen presence that makes you assume she’s been at this for ages.”

Yukoner Shaun LaDue will introduce Boy Meets Girl with a short talk about his experiences as a transgender man. LaDue, who recently graduated from film school, currently splits his time between Vancouver and his hometown of Ross River.

OUT North takes place at the Yukon Beringia Centre from April 17 to 19. For film times and ticket information visit yukonqueerfilmalliance.com.

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