A Reelout Experience
The Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival put on an interesting display of short films, covering a range of contentious issues about sex and gender, like in the movies “The Reading Salon”, and “You Are Not Your Genitals”. The festival also put on more lighthearted varieties, like “Fucking Butterflies”, which was about exactly that. At the end of the production, students were given the opportunity to ask the filmmakers questions, which was both necessary and useful to the students due to the abstract nature of the films. For this blog, I will review class concepts that these short-films touched upon, namely, the socially constructed nature of society, and notion of sex versus gender.
During the question and answer period, it was revealed that all of the films were made on the camera of an iphone, which was especially ironic in one of my preferred films, called “Obsession”, because the premise of the film was to stereotypically show the online dating persona homosexual people use on cell phone applications like “Grindr”. This film was focused with placing a satirical take on the outrageous descriptions, pictures, and messages the filmmakers often see on this very application. “Obsession”, in contrast to most films on the market today, proved to be unconventional. This is largely because of whom the film was targeted to: whereas most films made today are marketed at bigger demographics, like heterosexual people, “Obsession” was meant to be a humorous movie for the users of applications like “Grindr”. However, in doing so, this movie still, accidently or not, related to heterosexual men and women, because the point of the film was not only to mock the stereotypical profiles of people who use applications like this, but also to stress that these people conform to what they think society expects of them. To put this into perspective, consider the fifth lecture of GNDS125 when we discussed the movie “Twilight”. In “Twilight”, there is an abundance of “whiteness”, “female virginity”, and “heterosexuality”. These are the qualities moviegoers often look for when choosing a movie. This is contrary to the types of films represented at the Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival, particularly, “Obsession”. Overall, “Obsession” points out unacknowledged flaws in society, the fact that most people feel they must conform to a socially constructed standard to be accepted. The irony comes at the end of the movie when the iphone is dropped, and a passerby leans down to pick up the phone for the cameraman. This is ironic because at this point, the two men seem to fall in love, which challenges the online dating application as a legitimate means of meeting “real” people.
Another film that especially left an impression me was “You Are Not Your Genitals”. This film starts with Kiley May, a self-described “two-spirit, trans, queer and genderqueer human being”. This video is unlike any other video featured at the festival. May breaks the fourth wall immediately, and announces that they (as they clarify trans people should be referred to) are making this video as a response to the question, “what’s your sex?” May believes that they must clarify the difference between sex and gender. “Sex is fucking”, May says, and gender is “not what is in between your legs but your brain, psychology and consciousness”. This relates back to greater class themes of sex vs. gender, and the common misuse of the two. However, as we have learned in class “gender is not inherently connected to one’s physical anatomy”(“Understanding Gender”), it is the “complex interrelationship between those trains and one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither” (“Understanding Gender”). Sadly. Western society sees gender as a binary notion, with two harshly unchanging options of male or female. This is a very contentious issue, as gender-ambiguous supporters advocate for equal treatment of all people, which would include public washrooms for gender-ambiguous people, and official recognition of their choices. This has yet to be seen in a liberal society that claims to be progressive. Overall, during their brief video, May was able to hammer home the point that “you are not your genitals”.
The Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival presented a unique opportunity to discover new genres of film not represented at your average movie theatre. The Festival exceeded my expectations, because I have not attended anything like that before at Queen’s University. I was surprised to hear that Reelout tradition has been going on for fifteen years, and has expanded into schools, specializing in “diversity and gender diversity education” (“Reelout”). One thing I mentioned that I especially enjoyed was the question and answer period, in which the students had the opportunity to learn some of the inspiration behind these films. While some of the films were for humor and entertainment, others had deep meaning behind them. Overall, the Reelout Festival opened my eyes to the diverse groups that Queen’s has to offer.
“Understanding Gender.” Gender Spectrum. N.p.. Web. 28 Feb 2014. <https://www.genderspectrum.org/understanding-gender>.
“Introduction.” Reelout Arts Project Inc. . N.p.. Web. 28 Feb 2014. <http://www.reelout.com/about/introduction/>.