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REELiving with Thirza Cuthand


If you visit (and you should) the first thing you’ll learn about Cuthand is she’s a “Filmmaker, Performance Artist, General Troublemaker”.  Her short, experimental narrative videos have been huge hits with not just Reelout audiences but with audiences around the world.  Here works have been screened at Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, Hot Docs in Toronto, Frameline in San Francisco and Mix Brasil in Sao Paolo. She completed her BFA majoring in Film and Video at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. In 2012 she was an artist in residence at Villa K. Magdalena in Hamburg where she completed Boi Oh Boi playing in the DEAR LESBOS WITH LOVE program at 4pm Saturday, February 8th at The Screening Room (120 Princess St) where audiences will have the opportunity to engage with Thirza.  Reelout Rita chats with Thirza in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Reelout Rita: In addition to your new work Boi Oh Boi, Reelout is screening older, memorable works by Canadian artists from the past 15 years including your short “Helpless Maiden Makes an “I” Statement” in our Laugh Out Loud Shorts on Friday, Feb 7th at 7pm.  Can you still relate to the films you made 15 years ago?

Thirza: It’s different now, I understand the thoughts I had when making them, but I really feel it’s the voice of someone dealing with Youth issues.  I’ve come to accept that I can’t really talk from the viewpoint of a youth anymore, so I let them stand on their own.


Reelout Rita: Do you often wish you could go back and address the same issues again with the wisdom and life experience you have now?

Thirza: Not really, sometimes I think about revisiting issues, but like I said I have accepted that some of the youth related videos I made need to stay as being made by a youth.

Reelout Rita: Why do you think there is so little work about two-spirit identities in queer film?

Thirza: I think it’s a combination of people being closeted in First Nations cultures, for whatever reason (i.e. living in small rural communities where being openly queer is frowned upon), and also feeling like the issues facing First Nations people as a whole may be more important than issues facing a smaller segment of First Nations people.  I think it is changing though as these issues get easier to talk about within our communities.

Reelout Rita: What queer films over the past 15 years have inspired you?

Thirza: I was really inspired by the work of Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan.  I also have felt inspired by feature filmmakers like John Cameron Mitchell and Todd Haynes.  I remember when I was just coming out I was watching I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing by Patricia Rozema, it’s such a Canadian classic, I think that has probably influenced me in some way.


Reelout Rita: What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on a web series about Indigenous People going to Mars in a Soviet-era spaceship because they just landed a major land claims deal. It’s a comedy, I’ve been working on the idea since 2001 when it was birthed as a performance piece.  Some of the crew members are queer, because I am trying to expand my work to include marginalized people where they are just there, it’s not about their queerness being an out of place thing.

Meet Thirza Cuthand at the 15th anniversary Reelout Queer Film + Video Festival.  See 7pm Laugh Out Loud Shorts on Friday, February 8th and Dear Lesbos With Love the following day at 4pm.  Both screenings are at The Screening Room (120 Princess Street).  Buy tickets for these and other screenings ONLINE at TicketScene HERE.


About Reelout

We host an 11-day queer film and video festival in Kingston, Canada in January/February each year!

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