Lunch Time Poll Results

Reelout and Blue Canoe’s Production of HEATHERS THE MUSICAL was a huge success for the Juvenis Festival.  Our audiences were polled on several topics and let’s just say some of their questions were quite enlightening.  Here are some of the highlights.

Who is Hotter? Principal Gown, Coach Ripper or ALF?

120809alf1

Winner: ALF 

This 80s sitcom puppet alien easily won the beauty contest with all age demographics despite some write-in votes for an unspecified Heather, Ram Sweeney and Miss Fleming.

Do you support Miss Fleming’s initiative to ban the Pledge of Allegiance and replace it with a Daily Affirmation written by a myriad of Tibetan, feminist poets?

Interesting.  The majority of our audiences aged 26 or younger said “If you can find them. Sure!”.  However the majority of our audiences born in the 80s or prior felt we should “Send Miss. Fleming on a one-way ticket to Tibet.” Proving that older people are intolerant and traditional.   Ironic considering Miss Fleming is one of them.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 4.38.20 PM

You’ve discovered a new planet in Astronomy class. What would you name it?

Rachel, Prosperpina, Juvenis, Earth, Urrectum, Beyonce, Ur-Anus, Cool Planet, Chris Johnson, Ucluelet, Thomas, Donna’s Hope,  & Sewsuar.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

The most popular answers were “invisibility” and “flying” .  Other superpowers included: neurokinesis (?), setting fire to the rain, the ability to heal people, communicating with animals and the ability to see the future.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What would be your luxury item?

Audiences born in the 2000s or 90s were quite practical and offered such items as yachts, hammocks, books like Robinson Crusoe, Fiji water, sunglasses, peanut butter,soap and phones.  Entertainment was also a priority including Beyonce’s latest album, iPods/walkmans, a Rubicks Cube, an acoustic guitar, a water carbonator and a vibrator.  And then some of these kids are just silly/brilliant: Lexus Sport, a magic genie or a teleportation device.

Audiences born in the 60s or prior indicated they would bring someone to be stranded with, a bottle of brandy, a magic 8 ball, soap and a radio.

However it is audience members born in the 70s or 80s that you should steer clear of from now on. The top answers were “a gun” and “massive jugs of moisturizer”.

And finally, we asked our audiences if they could describe their sex life by the title of a movie and we received some pretty eclectic answers!  See below for highlights.

 

 

 

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The A-Z Freshman Guide to Heathers the Musical

Reelout & Blue Canoe Productions are proud to be co-producing Heathers The Musical, (book, music & lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy) at The Baby Grand Theatre in Kingston, ON Canada.  The show runs Tuesday May 3-Sunday May 8, 2016.  Are you a Heathers virgin? Fear not, our handy, (practically spoiler-free), alphabetical guide contains everything you need to know before the curtain rises.

A

Andy Fickman- American film director, film producer, screenwriter, television director, television producer, and theatre director. Directed the the Los Angeles and Off-Broadway productions of Heathers the Musical.

B

BQ Corn Nuts– This popular convenient store snack is Heather Chandler’s comfort food,  in the cult-classic film and the musical.

C

Chandler- Surname to the ringleader of a powerful, high school clique of girls all with the first name “Heather”.  She is referred to as “A Mythic Bitch”.  Heather Chandler is easily identified by her signature colour red.

D

Duke- Surname to the lowest rung of the Heathers chain-of-command and is most-likely to be on the receiving end of Heather Chandler’s venomous actions.  However, her love of Moby Dick may be an indication that one day she will harpoon the great white whale that is Heather Chandler.  Can be often found puking up lunch and wearing her signature colour green.

E

Eskimo- Not mentioned in the musical but is a great punchline from the film. Heather Duke’s copy of Moby Dick is stolen and the perpetrator begins to highlight what he believes to be meaningful passages to falsely depict her as someone with severe depression including the sole word “Eskimo”.  Later it is interpreted by the Priest at her funeral to mean that her soul was freezing in Antarctica and he prayed she was now rubbing noses with Jesus.  Fun Fact: The word “eskimo” does not actually appear in the novel Moby Dick.

F

Fleming- Miss Pauline Fleming is the high school Guidance Counselor in both the film and the musical adaptation. She developed her outlook on life from the hippies in the 60s and may still be suffering from the amount of drugs she took at the time.  The movie character was played by Penelope Milford who was Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Coming Home in 1978.

G

Gowan- Principal of the high school.  Toughest decisions include whether to cancel classes over a student suicide.  “I’d be willing to go half a day for a cheerleader.” The movie character was played by veteran Hollywood actor and soap opera vet (General Hospital) John Ingle, who coincidentally was a drama teacher at Beverly Hills High.

H

Heather McNamara- The sporty Heather.  Heather Chandler is not all that bright but she does excel at cheerleading and her dad is loaded. If any of The Heathers could be vaguely approachable it would be Heather McNamara although she is far from friendly due to her own insecurities.  She is easily identified by her signature colour yellow.

I

Ich Luge Bullets- Trying to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.  Let’s just say there’s no such thing as Ich Luge bullets and “Ich Luge” is German for “I’m lying.”

J

Jason “J.D” Dean-  The mysterious, trench-coat wearing new kid in school.  He reads miserable French poets and has a very strange relationship with his father, Big Bud, who owns a demolitions company.  He has a fondness for Slushees and an extreme disdain for mean girls and bone-head jocks.  An obvious literary allusion to James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause.

K

Kurt Kelly-  Quarterback and Captain of the football team.  He is chiseled, entitled and cocky.  Essentially he is the male version of Heather Chandler.

L

Laurence O’Keefe-  Along with Kevin Murphy wrote the book and the lyrics for Heathers the Musical based on the screenplay by Dan Waters.  The two have also collaborated on Reefer Madness the Musical and Legally Blonde the Musical.

M

Martha Dunnstock- Both in the film and the musical Martha is an easy-target for bullying by The Heathers.  The theatrical version of Martha is also a combination of the film character, Betty Finn,  Veronica’s childhood friend.   Martha loves movies with happy endings and is filled with optimism.  She is the idealistic heart of a high school full of cruelty and negativity and appears to be unaffected by the tyranny of The Heathers.

N

New World Stages- Site of the Off-Broadway production of Heathers the Musical. Coincidentally, “New World” was also the name of the production company that produced the film.

O

Ohio- Sherwood, Ohio is the fictitious setting for the film and the theatrical production.

P

Pate. As in, “Great pate but I’ve gotta motor if I want to ready for that party/funeral.” Veronica’s mother seems to enjoy feeding her family and houseguests pate. Although in one of the more notable deviations from the film to stage, Veronica’s family is not affluent  and Heather Chandler makes a rather rude, culinary clarification that what Veronica’s mom is actually serving is liverwurst.

Q

Queen’s University- While a large casting call for cast and crew was held in the city of Kingston for this upcoming production, the majority of the talent comes from Queen’s University.  It is a public research university founded in 1841.

R

Ram Sweeney- High School line-backer and inseparable best friend to quarterback Kurt Kelly.  Once kissed Martha Dunnstock in kindergarten (which she still fantasizes about) but has since grown to be the epitome of a big, dumb, jock.

S

Slushees-  J.D’s drug of choice.  Due to the transient nature of his Dad’s work, J.D’s only constant is that in any town they move to, there will be a 7-11.  He enjoys the exhilaration that comes with drinking these beverages too quickly.  “Freeze Your Brain”.

T

Teflon- Veronica sums up The Heathers as “solid Teflon- never bothered, never harassed. I would give anything to be like that.”

U

University- Alas, another deviation from the film was any reference to parties at Remington University.  One of the more disturbing elements to the film is that Heather Chandler is a High School Junior but frequents frat parties at the local university.  In the film, Chandler invites Veronica along. “I’m giving Veronica her shot. Her first Remington party. You blow it tonight girl and it’ll be keggers with kids all next year.”  This scene was adapted to a house party at Ram’s house instead.

V

Veronica Sawyer- The title may be Heathers but the story’s protagonist is in fact named Veronica.  The unofficial  fourth Heather.  In the film, Veronica is already deeply entrenched into the Heathers clique.  The musical adaptation MAY have taken a cue from Mean Girls by introducing Veronica as an attractive outsider who Heather Chandler eyes as a pet project to makeover.  Veronica likes to write in her journal and has the unusual talent of forging handwriting.  She also has a hankering for J.D the mysterious new bad boy at school.

W

Westerberg High- The primary setting where a trio of seventeen-year-old girls hold all the power without reproach due to an ineffectual faculty.  The school was named after Paul Westerberg, the lead-singer of The Replacements.  They were Winona Ryder’s (Veronica Sawyer) favourite band.

X

X-Rated- What are drunk and stoned teenagers supposed to do when the parents are away?  Ram and Kurt suggest to party goers that they go up to Ram’s parents bedroom and lay on their waterbed, rubbing each other’s backs while watching porn on Cinemax.

Y

Yo Girl- One of the darkest and shortest musical numbers appears just before the climax of the film as Veronica’s life and sanity begin to crumble.  “Yo girl, keep it together. I knew you would come far.  Now you’re truly a Heather. Smell how gangsta you are.”

Z

Zesty-Veronica’s favorite dish is spaghetti with lots of oregano. (Admittedly a stretch but alas there are no zebras or zombies in either the film or the theatrical production.)

heathers-16

Heathers the Musical is part of The Juvenis Festival, a week-long celebration of youth and the arts in Kingston funded in part through the generosity of the City of Kingston Arts Fund. #juvy2016  Check out their website at juvenis.ca

Reelout Director Gets Mysterious

Taking a break from the exciting world of media arts, I auditioned last month on a whim for Domino Theatre’s production of THE MOUSETRAP (October 18-November 3rd)  written by Agatha Christie.

DAME Agatha Christie, thank you very much!

The world of community theatre isn’t a completely foreign concept to me and I do have a certain fondness for acting in stage thrillers ever since my childhood pal Nancy and I wrote and starred in MURDER AT THE VANDERBILTS in grade 5.  It ran for 3 whole hours in her family’s basement to rave reviews. Ten year olds running around drinking apple juice disguised as gin whispering of extortion and adultery wasn’t just a kink in our childhood development–youthful enjoyment of the genre is more popular than you think! Why, just last year our niece couldn’t decide how she wanted to celebrate her 8th birthday party, it was either going to be a luau or a murder mystery.  After she insisted that it not be “just a mystery” party but an actual “murder” mystery, I wrote her a Murder at the Luau game for her and her friends.  These precious little girls were so thrilled to learn new words like “blackmail” and “exsanguination” along with an appreciation for the musical repertoire of Don Ho.

I first fell in love with Agatha Christie’s work when I first watched one of my favourite camp films of all time– The Mirror Crack’d with (get this)  Liz Taylor, Angela Lansbury, Tony Curtis, Kim Novak AND Rock Hudson!  Check it out if you get a chance, it’s not a great movie but it sure is entertaining and the reveal of whodunnit and why is exceptionally creepy.

Those fancy hats can be murder on the hair! Novak and Taylor in The MIrror Crack’d.

I similarly enjoyed the film adaptations of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (featuring a Logan’s Run era Michael York looking extremely who-do-able) and the less-than-classic 1965 interpretation of TEN LITTLE INDIANS featuring Fabian and Shirley Eaton (a.k.a the gold painted Bond girl in GoldFinger).

Agatha Christie’s stories translate well to television and the big screen, and while the stage adaptations of her works have also been tremendously successful, (the London production of The Mousetrap is still the longest running theatrical production of all time) they seem a bit old fashioned and most certainly, er, STAGEY to a modern audience weaned on MuchMusic and Ritalin.

Nonetheless discouraged I was thrilled to get the part of dogged Inspector Sgt. Trotter, a skiing policeman sent to discover the identity of a mysterious killer and that killer’s intended victim(s) before time runs out!

I know, I can’t believe I found a random photo of a policeman skiing either!

After weeks of rehearsals, I’ve concluded that the ironic fun of going to see a play like THE MOUSETRAP lies in its old-fashionedness.  What’s OLD is NEW again!  It has only one set, the grand hall of Monkswell Manor guest house; a helicopter doesn’t do an emergency evac into the hall; nor does Spiderman swoop down to nab the baddy.  The dialogue is sometimes loaded with exposition explaining things that happened not only the day before, but summarizing the socio/political landscape of Great Britain in the 50s.  And despite the threat of a murderer in their midst, no one does much besides posing suspiciously with a cup of tea, fire poker, glass of wine.  Yet, there’s an intimacy to The Mousetrap that has always managed to captivate an audience perhaps based largely on its simple aesthetic and meeting an audience’s expectations based on the mystery genre.  Secluded location? Check. Stuffy British accents? Check. Psycho on the Loose? Check. Eccentric cast of characters? Double Check!  THE MOUSETRAP combines these elements with rather brilliant dialogue that actually drips with spoilers as to the identity of the murderer (or murderess) and just who is on the killer’s hit list.For an LGBT audience, you’ll actually get a kick out of a few inside jokes including the queer film festival director himself getting to describe a character as “a bit queer in the head”.  There’s also houseguest Christopher Wren (played by charming Brent Neely) an antique-loving architect who relishes drama and has a crush on the “hearty” detective.

Imagine Christopher Wren as Daffyd the only gay in the village and then dial it back about a 100 and you get the idea.

And then there’s gender-ambiguous Miss. Casewell (played by the lovely Robin deKleine-Stimpson) who is described as mannish and skulks about in men’s clothing.

Miss Casewell would not be so out of place in the world of Sarah Water’s TIPPING THE VELVET.

The rest of the cast includes two attractive-turned-ordinary-looking actors Genevieve Landis and Jason Bowen as guesthouse proprietors Mollie and Giles Ralston.

Imagine the Fawltys from Fawlty Towers and you’ve got a general gist of Mollie and Giles Ralston.

The terrific Andrew Scallion as the gruff Major Metcalf.

Stop that! Stop being silly!

Warm and wonderful John Corrigan as the wildly eccentric Italian stranger Mr. Paravicini.

Imagine Roberto Benigni in pretty much anything Roberto Benigni has ever been in crossed with Gepetto from Pinochio and you’ve got Mr. Paravicini.

And veteran actor Mary Barclay stealing the show as the dour Mrs. Boyle.

Described by one character as a “bloody old bitch”. Although YOU’LL probably love her! (Note: This is a pic of Maggie Smith from Downtown Abbey but you’d swear she was in this play!)

The play is creatively directed by Roslyn Schwartz.  The rest of the crew includes Penny Nash, Liz Schell, Marlene McKenzie, David L. Smith, Ted Leyton, Katie Flower-Smith, Bob Brooks, Alexandra Coopers, James Leslie and Andrea Leyton.  What a great team of creative folks who all volunteer their time to contribute to the fabric of Kingston’s cultural scene.   So if you have the chance, come out and see The Mousetrap and see if you can figure out whodunnit before policeman on skis Sgt. Trotter does!

You can buy your tickets online by clicking on the link here.

Who is Ruth Ellis?

Who is this woman and why should you care?

Reelout, OPIRG Kingston and EQuIP are teaming up for 10th annual Screening Under the Stars as part of Queerientation and Alternative Frosh Week. ALL students and students of life are welcome to attend. This is a FREE event held outside of The Grey House (51 Bader Lane) on Thursday, September 13th at 7:30pm. (Rain venue is Dunning Hall room 10) both venues are wheelchair accessible.
LIVING WITH PRIDE: RUTH C. ELLIS @ 100Directed by Yvonne Welbon/1999/USA/60mins
We’re bringing back one of our first films to be screened under the stars from director Yvonne Welbon. We invite a whole new generation to share company with Ruth Ellis, a courageous activist who recognized her lesbian identity at the age of 20 in the year 1919. (That’s not a typo). Ruth lived her life actively through some of society’s most revolutionary movements including the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. We learn an appreciation for what it was like for Ruth to be a black, feminist, lesbian growing up in the 20th century. A truly engaging experience!

Find out about all the fantastic Queerientation events by joining their event page here:https://www.facebook.com/events/369136229826655/
Find out about OPIRG Kingston here: http://opirgkingston.org/
Find out abotu Reelout here: http://reelout.com/

Read A Book

Natural Order by Canadian author Brian Francis is a book worth reading!

It’s not that queer for a film -focused blog to ask that you pry your eyes away from the movie screen once in awhile and enjoy a good book.  We know you can read, you’re doing it right now aren’t you?  Reelout’s Festival Director Matt Salton has been asked to participate in this year’s Kingston Reads: Battle of the Books as part of Kingston Writers Fest 2012:

“Local luminaries vie for votes for this year’s Ontario Library Association’s prestigious Evergreen Award book nominees. .Join the ringside fun in this no-word-play-barred, spine-tingling battle in which defenders joust to win over the audience to their chosen book. Audience members get first crack at casting their ballots; the contest continues throughout the month at all KFPL branches, local bookstores and online at www.kfpl.ca. Sponsored by the Kingston Frontenac Public Library and moderated once again by the unflappable Eric Friesen.”

Here’s what Matt had to say about Natural Order:

My ideal summer beach reading includes stories of tawdry sex, exotic locales, and a spoiled diva of Machiavellian proportions sleeping her way to the top on her own terms. Example

Hey Brian Francis, would it have killed you to throw at least one of these elements in NATURAL ORDER?

Instead, Francis invites us into the unsexy, homophobic world of 90s-something narrator Joyce Sparks in exotic…rural Ontario.  Sigh. Before I searched for the Coles Notes version, I reminded myself that Francis was the author of the brilliant FRUIT and so I put my faith in an author of incredible talent and began to listen to the story of Joyce Sparks in her own words.

We learn of Joyce’s first crush as a young teenager on her flamboyant co-worker Freddy and his passion for going to the movies and longing to escape the doldrums of small town life. He calls Joyce his “Cinema Princess” (coincidentally also my nickname), loves his mother, and teaches dance but Joyce remains completely dumbfounded the day Freddy leaves town and Joyce’s heart broken.  Not everyone in Joyce’s town is as naïve, Joyce’s killjoy sister Helen and trusty gal pal Fern can see the florist through the trees but it is here that Joyce adopts her first in a series of emotional paralyses when it comes to dealing with sexuality, particularly the same-sex variety.  Which causes many a problem later in life when Joyce’s son John begins to display the same feminine characteristics.

It would be a shame to reveal anymore of the plot because, if you’re like me, you may dismiss the story’s simplicity as dull reading. NATURAL ORDER is far from dull and in fact its simplicity is deceptive and reminiscent of Robertson Davies’ FIFTH BUSINESS for it is the marginal figures in Joyce’s life that now come to the forefront of her memory during her ailing years. You could read this as a deathbed confessional, a story of remembrance and regret; a non-linear catharsis that keeps you clinging to every last word with the hope of redemption.  Natural Order will take many of you out of your comfort zone to indentify with an arguably unlikeable woman but as a Battle of the Books contender and as written by Francis, Joyce Sparks will deliver an honest, roundhouse punch that will knock you right out of the ring.

Get a head start and read Natural Order this summer.  You can reserve it at your local branch of the Kingston Public Library here or buy a copy at your independent local bookseller like Novel Idea!

Pssst… What Are Ya’ Into?

The Shirtless Queers of Reelout 13

We would like to apologize on behalf of the 90% of filmmakers whose work we selected for exhibition- as they were remiss in including shirtless scenes of their characters either in the films or in their publicity materials.  There’s nothing we at Reelout like more than to laugh at how many shirtless photos are selected by ours and other festivals to promote the films within their festival guides.

Thank goodness we have a blog and a lot of spare time on our hands.  We did a little digging… and you’re welcome.

Shirtless? Check. Sneaker Fetish? Check. Scene from ROMEOS Thursday, January 26 at 7pm.

Real World Washington's Mike Manning in eCupid. Friday Feb 3 7pm

Do you like 'em hairy? Everything & Everyone plays Tuesday January 31 at 9pm

Visiting Filmmaker PAUL FESTA flanked by shirtless pixies from THE GLITTER EMERGENCY in our SHHHorts silent film collection Sunday Feb 5 at 2pm

If you go into the woods today... you're in for a big surprise! LORD COCKWORTHY is also featured in our SHHHorts package on Sunday, Feb 5th at 2pm

Rodney Evan's short look at the life of renowned composer Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn - BILLY & AARON- is part of our Black and Blues program on Thursday, Feb 2nd at 7pm

Mr. International Leather Competion is the setting for Michael Skiff's doc KINK CRUSADERS on Thursday, January 26th at 9pm The Screening Room.

The ladies in our program CAMPTOWN LADIES SING THEIR SONG on Saturday January 28 are not always what you might expect as these swimmers will soon discover. Still from COLD STAR.

Filmmaker of DEATH OF MY DAUGHTER Leon Mostovoy playing before ORCHIDS on Monday, January 30th at 7pm

Another model from Death of My Daughter- Tuck.

We cheated on this one. Esai Morales has been a dreamboat on the scene since the 80s. He stars in GUN HILL ROAD on Wednesday, February 1st at 9pm but this photo is not from that movie.

LEAVE IT ON THE FLOOR... and keep IT there! YOWZA! This musical set in the contemporary vogue ballroom scene works the runway Saturday, February 4th at 7pm The Screening Room.

Where are the women you ask?  Publicity materials usually shy from nipples when they’re on breasts.  All film screenings over 11 days of the 13th annual Reelout Queer Film + Video Festival will be held at The Screening Room (120 Princess Street).

Well hello there, film lovers!

Hey friends!

Normally when I can’t think of a wham! In your face! kind of entry to a paper or letter or whatever, I google a definition. I’ve always thought it’s an excellent way of plunging the reader headfirst into a subject, as well as a sneaky way of legitimizing your opinion by citing someone way cooler than you. Ergo, in my musings about how exactly to start off the coolest blog in the world, I returned to my roots, and this is what I found:

“Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed in the back while climbing a ladder.”

– William Faulkner

As you can see, Google was absolutely no help.

So, I figured I’d start things of less dramatically and just stick to the facts. My name is Bee, and I’m going to be your resident twenty-something student blogger this year! Basically, I have the coolest job in the world: I’m going to be taking you through Reelout’s fantastic resource library, watching, researching and writing about the films and books as a way of introducing you to what’s available, (for the low, low price of $10 a year! http://reelout.com/Reelout11/supportMembership.php), and then, when the films for this year’s festival are announced (yay!), I’ll be doing everything in my power to get you informed and excited, with some background info on the films and their creators.

The purpose of this blog is not just to give you a library catalogue, however. Much more than that, I’m hoping to use this forum as a means of opening up discussion about the subject of queer film in general. What makes a film “queer”? How is the queer community encapsulated in film and how has this changed over time and in relation to contemporary events? What does film in general do for public perception of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender peoples, and how does it affect the queer community itself? What recurring themes and tropes can we find in different genres and eras of queer cinema? And finally, which of Reelout’s films are the most awesome? These are all question that I’d like to explore.

Input and discussion are always welcome, as are requests! Anything in particular you’d like me to watch and/or blog about, just say the word! Obscure questions? I’ll try and track down the answers! (Although, I may have a few questions of my own in response, i.e, “where can a person get decent sushi in this town?” and, “Is it true that Mark Wahlberg has a third nipple?”) Prepare yourselves for the most awesome Reelout yet!

Yours in cyberspace,

Bee

Some Like It Hot Springer Market Square

Thurs, Aug 12th, 8:30 p.m. • Springer Market Square

Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis star in SOME LIKE IT HOT

Reelout is proud to partner with Movies in the Square to present Billy Wilder’s classic gender bending comedy SOME LIKE IT HOT to a Kingston audience. Bring your own lawn chair to Springer Market Square in time for dusk to catch Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe in one of Hollywood’s finest comedies of all time. Admission is Free.

Dir. Billy Wilder
1959/ USA / 120min. / b&w
When two Chicago musicians accidentally witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, they trade in their union suits for flapper frocks and hightail it down to Florida as the newest members of an all-girl jazz band. Hailed by the American Film Institute as the funniest American movie of all time and a rare example of queer iconography in Hollywood cinema that doesn’t patronize or condemn the notion of homosexuality.

Reelout Accepts WAF Apology

Jul 19, 2010

Dear Ms. Dowell,

We acknowledge and accept your apology. The staff and board of directors of the Reelout Arts Project Inc. accepts that we do not meet the application requirements and ask in the future that the Women’s Art Festival post these rules on the application form and that the next person responsible for vetting applications make reference to these guidelines when rejecting an application. We have been both shocked and hurt by this experience and hope that both organizations are now able to move forward and support the work of women artists in our community. This letter marks a turning point – one that we hope brings about positive change at the Women’s Art Festival. However, your letter does highlight a couple of continuing concerns.

We believe it is erroneous to judge an application based on the assumed gender of the administrator of an organization when his or her work is not on exhibition. You may wish to blame our Festival Director’s choice of the word “penis” to excuse your offensive remarks but, at the end of the day, your remarks were homophobic and cannot be justified by being shocked by someone else’s reference to his anatomy. Furthermore, assumptions and policy structured on gender should be monitored often to ensure that you are not discriminating against a person or persons based on their gender. Matt did not identify himself as male or female in the application nor on the telephone until he told you that he had a penis, a statement of fact nothing more or less and still not indicative of gender.

You mention “overt sexuality” in relation to Reelout. Although our original application clearly states our intention of showing family friendly short films by women for women, you still equate Reelout with “flaunting sexuality”. Nowhere in our application and subsequent conversations did we mention sexuality but only the word “queer”. We believe this highlights a serious problem within the WAF vetting process and needs to be addressed immediately.

Despite these concerns Reelout fully supports the continuing work of the WAF as it reflects our own mission to foster the development of independent artists. We have been gratified by the amazing outpouring of support from both individuals and organizations in the Kingston community. We believe this indicates both a support for the queer community and an emotional investment in how the WAF conducts itself. We will advocate for change from within and are calling upon all women artists to step forward and help WAF at this point in time to become an organization which is sex and body positive as well as committed to gender justice and sexual diversity.

We hope that in the future the WAF and Reelout can participate in a healthy and fruitful collaboration not unlike our partnerships with our friends at the Raise The Roof Women’s Music Festival and the Skeleton Park Music Festival. Our mission statement includes creating challenging dialogue within Kingston. We appreciate that your experience within this dialogue may not have been comfortable or entirely positive. It is our hope that we move forward from this experience with a shared desire to strengthen both the WAF and Reelout in our community. Please feel free to forward our secretary Alice Robinette-Woods alice@reelout.com any information on how women in the Kingston community can get involved with volunteering for your organization.

Sincerely, Reelout Arts Project Inc. Board of Directors

See copy of original apology letter below:

July 14, 2010

Dear Matt and the Reelout Board,

I am writing this letter to apologize for the comments that I made to you over the phone about your application.  I have come to understand how the comments have been interpreted by you and others and I am immeasurably sorry to have caused hurt to you, the people at reelout and the rest of the members of the public who have communicated their distress with the words I spoke during our phone conversation.  The comments I made were not directed towards the gay and lesbian community in any way, nor were they the opinions of the Women’s Art Festival Collective.  The comments I made reflected my own personal opinions about “overt sexuality” in public places — by anybody — gay or straight.  I did not mean to suggest that lesbians and their art were not welcome at the WAF — in fact, we have always had active and important participation on the collective and at the festival of lesbian artists. I come from an older generation of people, who grew up in a different time.  When you spoke to me about your penis, I was very flustered and upset and I did not manage to get past the shock in our conversation that followed.  I am uncomfortable looking at and talking about overt demonstrations of sex of any kind — that is my own perspective and not that of the collective.

What I meant to communicate to you is that we have a specific focus at the festival, as you can read on our website at  http://www.womensartfestivalkingston.ca/rules_regulations.htm)

“WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO EXHIBIT IN THE WOMEN’S ART FESTIVAL?  *The festival is open to women artists who design and create original art work. The total body of work must be handmade by the woman artist who registers.”

Your application did not meet these two criteria – this is the message that I should have communicated to you in a simple and direct fashion. The reason I called you in the first place was because I was not familiar with your organization and I wanted to speak to you about it rather than refusing the application out of hand.  On the face of the application, it did not meet our very simple criteria, shown above. Even after our conversation, I did not fully understand how your organization would qualify, given the criteria shown above.  In my attempts to understand and explain, I spoke off the top of my head and I said things that I now understand were very hurtful to you.  I did not mean to say anything against the gay and lesbian community and the reelout festival; I fully support each person’s right to love who they love and live openly as who they are.

The discussion that I had with some of the other women in the collective related specifically to the fact that they agreed that the application did not meet the criteria of “women artists who design and create original art work” which is “handmade by the woman who registers.”  We did not discuss any views about overtly sexual material at that time — those were my own opinions and I should not have tried to explain them over the phone because they had nothing to do with the reason that the collective could not accept the application.

If Reelout would like to submit an application that meets the criteria of “women artists who design and create original art work” which is “handmade by the woman who registers,” we will accept it with open arms.  As a possible suggestion, the woman who applies could be a director, actor, producer or some other contributor to a film, who would like to come and show that film and sell DVDs.  At the booth, she could also have materials from the Reelout festival, to put the film in the larger context.

I hope you can accept this apology for the hurt that my comments caused you.  I have learned a hard lesson about how continuing a conversation in a state of feeling flustered can result in miscommunications that can cause hurt and misunderstanding.  I wish you all the best in your preparations for your festival this year and in the years to come.

Shirley Dowell

WAF Collective – WAF Applications