Montreal’s LGBTQ + image + nation film festival returns to virtual freedom


“We have an online film festival, full of films ready to be released,” says festival director Charlie Boudreau. “All disasters can be avoided with this.”

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Charlie Boudreau and Kat Setzer were rolling with the punches last Friday. A year after making their way through an all-virtual pandemic edition of their darling image + nation film festival, the duo were scrambling to find an alternate venue for the 34th edition of the LGBTQ + cinema celebration.


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The cause was the temporary closure of the Imperial Cinema – the original base of image + nation – the previous weekend, due to structural issues that forced the building to be evacuated during a screening at the Cinemania film festival. .

“It really threw a wrench into the machine,” said Image + Nation Director Boudreau.

Fortunately, this year’s edition, which runs November 18-28, only includes a handful of theatrical screenings. (At the time of publication, the festival’s opening film had been moved to the Cinema du Musée, and a handful of others had been moved to the Phi Center.) And with 44 feature films and over 75 short and medium films, all available for viewing online, the show is guaranteed to go both ways.

“One of the few good things to come out of COVID is the (virtual) platform we have now,” Boudreau said. “We have an online film festival full of films ready to be released. All disasters can be avoided with this.


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“Basically there is no such thing as a super duper worst case scenario,” added programming director Setzer. “If there is no place, there is always a festival.

Physical gatherings will always be an integral part of the nation + image, Setzer said.

“It is an important political act, to come together in the dark with your tribe. It is essential.”

Doing so while seeing and sharing the stories of a historically under-represented and oppressed community is a bonus. And while nothing can replace human contact, the online aspect dramatically expands the reach of a festival previously attended only by those who lived or could travel to town for theatrical screenings.

“It’s part of the reason we’re keeping the hybrid format,” Boudreau said. “We have to question the model of the festival. We don’t show Marvel Comics, we show people’s lives on screen. It needs to be seen and accessible to as many people as possible, so that they can break out of the model of seeing the television version of who they are. It’s a positive that has a permanent impact.


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Setzer supports the emotion.

“I think the freedom to be online – besides being that outreach across the province, providing these representations of identity and self that can be seen by people who don’t live in the province. urban center of Montreal – this also allows us to return to the true creative and artistic core of our programming, to show works that have no kind of financial result.

Bretten Hannam's Wildhood - a romance “made by a Two-Spirit Mi'kmaq,” says Kat Setzer - opens the image + nation festival.
Bretten Hannam’s Wildhood – a romance “made by a Two-Spirit Mi’kmaq,” says Kat Setzer – opens the image + nation festival. Photo by image + nation

Not having to rent a movie theater for every movie they screen has allowed image + nation to screen a greater variety of portrayals of LGBTQ + experiences from a range of established and emerging filmmakers around the world.

Among the highlights of this year’s program are films from faraway countries, “from countries that don’t produce a lot of films, certainly queer films,” Boudreau said, “from places associated with human rights (human rights issues). ) questionable. We are interested in showing films of these places, in showing their point of view on this reality… where being homosexual is part of it, but not in the foreground of the story because there are bigger issues.


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She points to The Hill where the lionesses roar, the first film by Kosovar actress-turned-director Luàna Bajrami, who starred in the Cannes hit Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The film tells the story of three young women who find their autonomy by embarking on a series of crimes.

“It’s a story about the stuffy feeling of growing up in a small town and wanting to go out,” Setzer said. “There are conflict, romance and great feelings. It is phenomenal.

“(Crime) becomes the only response to a culture of gender injustice that these women face,” Boudreau added, “because their traditional culture doesn’t allow much movement.”

The Hill where the Lionesses Roar tells the story of three young women who find their free will by embarking on a series of crimes.
The Hill where the Lionesses Roar tells the story of three young women who find their free will by embarking on a series of crimes. Photo by image + nation

Boudreau also mentioned Elene Naveriani’s Wet Sand, about young people defying the disapproval of their neighbors in a Georgian seaside village. Setzer then singled out Celts (Kelti) from first-time Serbian director Milica Tomović, a gleefully exuberant comedy about partying adults at a children’s birthday party against a backdrop of socio-political upheaval.


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To entertain a large audience, Boudreau offers Mascarpone by Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati, following the adventures of a man dumped by her husband for 12 years.

“This is the kind of movie you can bring mom,” she noted. “We show all kinds of films. “

“It’s important to have movies that are easy for most people to understand,” Setzer joked, “just like cheese (mascarpone)”.

Mascarpone is “the kind of movie you can bring mom,” says Charlie Boudreau.  “We show all kinds of films.
Mascarpone is “the kind of movie you can bring mom,” says Charlie Boudreau. “We show all kinds of films. “ Photo by image + nation

Setzer highlighted the festival’s selection of documentaries, including Aaron Bear’s Yes I Am: The Ric Weiland Story, portraying one of Microsoft’s early programmers who became a key figure in the gay rights movement; Rebel Dykes by Harri Shanahan and Siân Williams, about punk women in 1980s London; and North by Current by Angelo Madsen Minax, in which a trans man grapples with his family history following a seizure.


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Setzer describes Bretten Hannam’s opening film Wildhood as a romance “directed by a Two-Spirit Mi’kmaq.” It’s a story of coming inside and leaving tough family stuff behind.

For those with a shorter attention span, Boudreau recommends the many image + nation short film programs, divided into themes such as Queer Utopias, Queerment Quebec and Family Fun for Everyone, which like all festival offerings , can be viewed at leisure online, over a period of 72 hours from the date of purchase of your ticket.

“We are moving in larger directions than just a site,” Boudreau said. “We are exploring different ways to share culture. This is only the start of a great adventure.


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The image + nation LGBTQ + film festival will take place November 18-28 in theaters and online. For tickets and more information, visit

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