Best Documentary at Fairy Tales Calgary

Our amazing experience at this festival was topped off with the audience award for best documentary. Here is one blogger’s take on Beyond Gay.

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Well, Wednesday was ‘Bring a Straight’ Night at the 12th Annual Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival and a lovely friend of mine asked me to attend. No way in hell I’d say ‘no’ that, which is how I ended up spending my Wednesday night sitting between two beautiful women, sharing popcorn and experiencing four incredible films….

First up was ‘Get Happy,’ an inspirational look at the life of Mark Payne. Hilarious and fascinating, the film featured footage of Mark at the age of 12 years old, impersonating his favourites (and mine): Judy, Liza, Barbra and Diana. By the age of 16, Mark’s Liza was the opening for Milton Berle and Bob Hope. Lovingly supported and raised by his mother and grandmother (she bought his first fabric and taught him to sew his costumes!), Mark turned his passion into a collaboration with Laura Mercier and is now an Emmy-winning makeup artist. Not bad for a skinny little boy from Texas with a love for divas.

That story of incredible passion led into ‘Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride,’ a documentary by Vancouver-based film-maker Bob Christie as he follows Pride organizers from around the world in their quest for awareness and equal rights. Led by Vancouver Pride Society President Ken Coolen, ‘Beyond Gay’ provides its viewers an honest look at the struggles bravely faced by the LGBT communities in countries where homosexuality either “doesn’t exist” or exists only for those who aren’t afraid of abuse, jail and/or death. Their stories are intense…One Jamaican man talks about what it’s like for gay men in Jamaica, describing the brutal murders of 13 of his friends, including at least one who was provoked and beaten by three police officers only to be handed over to homophobic spectators to finish the job. Jamaica is considered to be the most homophobic country in the world, but with stiff competition for that title.

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