WEB NEWS: East
end filmmakers flock to indie festival
Wes Smiderle, Neighbourhood News Staff
Tue, Mar 8, 2005
12:00 PM EST
Lois Siegel, Orléans
filmmaker. Photo/Darren Brown
Twenty years ago, Lois
Siegel spent Halloween night in a Montréal
bar with a camera crew and 300 men wearing
"There wasn't even
a women's bathroom," recalled Siegel. "One
of my crew said, 'Well, there's women here.'
I said, 'Look again.' "
Siegel was shooting
footage of female impersonators in bars
and nightclubs around downtown Montréal.
Local drag queen Armand Monroe ("spelled
like Marilyn Monroe") was her guide through
the city's gender-bending hang-outs.
The result of those
excursions is Lip Gloss, a documentary exploring
the world of female impersonators in Montréal
during the late 1980s. The film, released
in 1993, has been screened before in Montréal
and England. Ottawa audiences will get a
rare chance to see it March 9 when the documentary
is shown at the University of Ottawa as
part of the 2005 Ottawa Student and Independent
Filmmaker Festival (OSIFF).
EAST END FILM HUB
Siegel, a photographer
living in Orléans, will be one of four east
end representatives showcased in the university's
Alumni Auditorium this week. Twenty-one-year-old
film student and Fallingbrook resident Christopher
Redmond will premiere his 15-minute short
satire "The Design of Human Kind" on March
10. "The Walkers," directed by Blackburn
Hamlet resident Miles Finlayson, will be
screened on March 9. Former Beacon Hill
resident and Colonel By High School graduate
Anice Wong will screen her 15-minute documentary
"Whose Rights Anyway? Justice for Mohamed"
on March 10.
Wong, 23, attended
high school in Beacon Hill before moving
to Toronto where she graduated from film
and video studies at York University. Her
entry at the OSIFF is a 15-minute documentary
on the detention of Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa
resident and refugee from Algeria, who has
been held in custody since 2002 on a security
She's currently working
on a follow-up to the film updating Harkat's
plight. Wong said she likes how documentaries
can inspire viewers and spark debate. "It
can introduce people to different subjects
and topics they probably would never have
thought of before and just bring them a
whole new perspective," she said.
Wong's film has been
shown at a dozen festivals across Canada.
For Redmond the festival screening will
be his film's debut.
Redmond describes his
film as a satire set in "God's factory"
where the individuals designing human beings
have an idea to split humans into two versions,
an alpha and beta. The film tracks their
attempt to "pitch" the idea to the board.
"There's a lot of religious
overtones, but it's also a comment on corporate
America, the structure of a corporate boardroom,"
In order to complete
"Design of Human Kind," he had to draw on
volunteers and members of Independent Filmmakers
Cooperative of Ottawa, an organization who
joined in late 2003.
"That's when I discovered
there was actually a film community in Ottawa,"
said Redmond. "I was able to put together
a crew that would basically work for free
. . . pre-production, production, post-production
and distribution were all done for under
GUY TRYING ON HEELS'
Siegel -- who aside
from being a filmmaker is also a photographer
and a musician with the Lyon Street Celtic
Band -- shot and compiled Lip Gloss over
a five-year period. The doc debuted at the
Montréal World Film Festival in 1993 and
was later shown in England at the Eighth
London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
"That was quite an
experience," said Siegel, 58. "I think they
were expecting a different look of Montréal.
They found it more old-fashioned than avant-garde
. . . They were expecting something more
exotic, I think."
The scene in Montréal
during the late '80s was more restrained
than some people might assume. Siegel talked
about trying to film a scene at a shoe store
featuring Monroe trying on different pairs
of high heels. None of the downtown store
owners would let them in.
"They didn't want to
do it," she said. "They were very uptight."
Siegel and her crew
ended up using a mom-and-pop store in St.
Anne de Bellevue, a small town on the outskirts
of the city where she taught at John Abbott
Siegel was friends
with the two store owners. She asked the
wife, who had no problem with the shoot.
The woman neglected to notify her husband
who was working there the day Siegel arrived
with Monroe and her crew.
"He wasn't expecting
us to shoot this six-foot-something guy
trying on heels," she said, "but he was
very nice about it, completely charming."