The Edmonton International Film Festival was where we were fortunate enough to have the North American premiere of The Gender Line, a documentary short about transgender rock star Cidny Bullens. As soon as we stepped off the elevator, we were treated like royalty by EIFF board members, programmers and staff.
“We love your film,” they told us. “And we just know our audiences will too!”
EIFF is an Oscar-qualifying film festival, so I have to admit I was a little nervous and intimidated.
On the first evening, we were invited to a dinner with the filmmakers of the Opening Night film. It was such a warm and wonderful dinner that we didn’t want to leave. At the afterparty we bonded with many filmmakers from all over Canada and the world. Staff and volunteers made it a point to introduce filmmakers to one another, and demonstrated their intimate knowledge of our films in the process.
Our program was scheduled the following afternoon, and I know this sounds absurd, but by the time our film screened, it felt like we were in a large theater with nothing but family and friends. We were all rooting for each other’s films. The Gender Line was last in our program and when the lights came on, Cidny Bullens was standing there with his guitar and he sang a ballad to the other filmmakers and the wonderful team from EIFF. His song was “Healing the Break,” which spoke to the healing power of personal narratives. I believe the entire theater was in tears. I know I was.
EIFF programs from the heart, and that is evident in every film they selected. I saw so many wonderful films and I met friends who now feel like family. The Gender Line has played in almost 20 festivals now, and none of them were like Edmonton. This is a festival with a lot of heart, and you will leave there with an even bigger one.