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Image+Nation, the Montreal LGBT Film Festival November 6, 2011

Posted by homolog88 in film festivals.
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Image+Nation will be 25 next year. For some fifteen plus years, the festival has been run by a lesbian couple, Charlie Boudraeau (francophone) and Katharine Seltzer (anglophone). Like the couple themselves, the festival is completely bilingual, as is the city of Montreal. I’ve spent a lot of time in francophone countries, but being in Montrealwith its perfect mastery of the two languages is a new experience for me. And the festival programming reflects the city’s dual linguistic heritage. Films in French and English, without subtitles, are routinely screened in the same program. My own film, for example, which is not subtitled in French, is playing with an equally monolinguistic French documentary, Louis(e) de Ville, Portrait d’une bad girl.

Image+Nation looks like a successful festival and well-established institution. The festival spans twelve days with two, sometimes three, simultaneous screenings. Most of the programs take place atConcordiaUniversity, which has an enormous screen and good sound system. The theater doubles as a classroom, so the seats also have fold-down wooden writing tables, an acceptable substitute for cup holders. The crowds are good. The big theater seats 300 and has been close to full more often than not.

Moi with festival directors Katharine Seltzer (r) and Charlie Boudreau(l)

This is not a festival that brings in a lot of film makers, though it does a few. When Charlie and Katharine heard I was attending, they offered me three nights at an elegant gay B&B. There are two other directors here as well, though I’ve only met one other, Steve Lewis, another San Francisco resident (works at The Chronicle, actually) who is travelling with his fourth feature film (Longhorns, a gay comedy). One night Charlie and Katharine invited the directors in attendance (two locals and one guy from Los Angeles) to a late dinner at one of the sponsoring restaurants, and I had a chance to talk to them over a beef and horse mix of steak tartare about the programming process. They’re both smart and sophisticated in their film tastes (only what you’d expect). They love “T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness” and have put it in the shorts competition. I don’t think it has a chance, since it is the only documentary, but it’s quite a compliment to be nominated.

The best thing about Image+Nation is the wide international net that it casts. At American festivals, I’ve seen the same “big” films programmed again and again. And I have to say, they don’t knock me out. The best feature films I’ve seen at this festival are ones I haven’t seen elsewhere: a black Israeli comedy entitled Joe & Belle (subtitled in English); an equally black French drama, Notre Paradis (no subtitles) about murderous rent boys in a passionate affair; a fascinating, complex glimpse into Tehran’s upper and political classes entitled Circumstance (subtitled in English). Actually Circumstance won the Sundance U.S. audience award for drama this year. See it when it comes to a theater near you.

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