Pink Lobster Festival, NB’s new LGBTQIA+, featured a slew of award-winning shorts and feature films over Feb. 16-18.
The inaugural Pink Lobster Film Festival came to a close on Saturday Night at Tilley Hall on UNB Campus after showing 19 short films and three feature-length offerings. All the films touched on, either directly or indirectly, LGBTQIA+ issues.
The festival was imagined by local writer and filmmaker Robert W. Gray while touring with his own films at international LGBTQIA+ film festivals in France and Britain. He brought the idea to his collaborators at Frictive Pictures, a production company based in Fredericton and garnered interest from the NB Fimmaker’s Co-operative and other local sponsors to make the event a reality.
The film festival featured local talent and included Fredericton-based directors. STU student Elijah Matheson’s “Daisy Chain” (2016), his debut film, is a charming and thoughtful reflection on gender identity. The film was made during the last 48H Film Competition and won that competition’s best music for their singer-songwriter.
Local UNB English professor and poet Lucas Crawford’s exploration of fatphobia, “The Elephant in the Room”, was co-directed and written with Melisa Britain in 2012. Crawford and Britain narrate a question-filled incisive commentary as we watch actor Crawford eat a variety of delectable items. UNB English and Film Professor R. W. Gray’s “3 Cafés” (2016), an impressionistic film about the end of a relationship, also screened on Friday night.
An award was given for the Best Canadian Short to “Babes: A Webseries,” written by local writer-filmmaker and activist AJ Ripley and directed by Victoria Clowater. The clever series, made in Fredericton with local talent, features a witty take on everyday situations for Transgender individuals in small-town Canada. Ripley was featured in a recent Vice documentary, “On Hold: Canadian Transgender Health Access” (directed by Stephanie Brown, 2015.
Best Short Film went to the film “09:55-11:05, Ingrid Ekman, Bergsgatan 4B” (Sophie Vekovic & Cristine Berglund, Sweden, 2014). The elegant short, which follows a dying former dancer and her temporary caretaker, is an exploration on loneliness, aging, beauty and sexuality.
The inaugural Pink Lobster festival jury also awarded two Special Jury Mentions. The hilarious short “Oh, Be Joyful” (directed by Susan Jacobson, UK, 2015) featured a duplicitous grandmother who leads her granddaughter down the garden path. The second, “Vámonos,” directed by Marvin Bryan Lemos (USA, 2015), follows the difficult circumstances following the death of a loved one whose family is homophobic.
The festival also featured three feature-length offerings, including young Newfoundland director Stephen Dunn’s “Closet Monster” (2015), on opening night. This award-winning film, about a young boy’s coming out and relationship to his divorced parents, includes magical elements such as a talking hamster played by Italian actress Isabella Rosselini and a cameo by comic Mary Walsh.
The two other feature-length films were a documentary on a family’s adaptation to their child’s transition, “Real Boy” (Shaleece Haas, 2016), and an entertaining Indian film about an eclectic group of modern women dealing with social change, called “Angry Indian Goddesses” (Pan Nalin, 2015).
Festival organizers hope to repeat the festival next year and called for sponsors, filmmakers, and volunteers to contact them on social media to participate.
Sophie M. Lavoie writes on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op. She is also an editorial board member.