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Reel Pride Opens in Winnipeg
Week-long 'cinematic smorgasbord' showcases pride through the screen

A showcasing of 62 films and videos at 19 screenings begins in Winnipeg today in the relaunch of that city's gay and lesbian film festival called Reel Pride.

From tonight until the festival's close on Sunday, Winnipeg Community members - and out-of-town visitors - can enjoy a diverse line-up of features, shorts and other in a celebration of gay and lesbian pride 'through the screen.'

"We're very excited that an important cultural event like this is coming back onto the queer scene," said festival director Gilles Marchildon in an interview, of the return of the festival.

The last gay and lesbian film festival held in that city was in 1995.  "The Winnipeg Gay and Lesbian Film Society has continued to exist but not actively organizing festivals," explained Mr. Marchildon.

The director speculated that the discontinuation was due to volunteer fatigue and the unfavourable economics of such an undertaking at the time.  But the presence of additional Canadian film distributors has improved the prospects, he said, and the securing of corporate sponsorships this year has made a difference as well.

The tone of Reel Pride's content is on the lighter side with the majority of works being romantic comedies or outright comedies.  "But it also includes documentaries, dramas and experimental films," added Mr. Marchildon.

Queer as Folk
Highlighted in the festival are the Brit series 'Queer as Folk' and the presentation by celebrated New York journalist Michael Wilke of a 90-minute compilation of nearly 100 ads from around the world - called The Commercial Closet.

Eight episodes of the critically acclaimed 'Queer as Folk' will be shown Thursday through Sunday.

During The Commercial Closet, a live video 'talk-umentary,' Mr. Wilke will present 11 segments of ads grouped in categories ranging from stereotypical to neutral, positive to unflattering, 'gay vague' and 'lesbian chic,' HIV/AIDS and political.  The journalist will share critical observations and background stories about the campaigns, ad agencies and marketers.

Openly gay Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray will host Reel Pride's kick-off reception Tuesday.

The festival is part of Winnipeg's Pride Week and serves to enrich the experience of that celebration.

"This year is the biggest and best Pride celebration in Winnipeg," said Mr. Marchildon.  "We're hitting our 'teenage' years with all the exuberance and sexuality that entails," he added.

In addition to the film festival, the city's Pride Week features an art exhibition, coffee house talent, two parties, and two wine-and-cheeses. The annual march is on Sunday.

The festival director is encouraged with results so far.

"People [will] come out because the title appeals to them and the film will be shown in a Community context ... and that will encourage them to feel extra Pride," he concluded.

Further information, including a schedule, may be found at www.gios.mb.ca/reelpride.htm.