By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
After attending the 2011 Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Michael Nugent (aka Sweet Chi), 27, and Sister Bhakti Shakti, 52, started wondering why there weren’t more Radical Faeries represented in film. So they set out to create a festival focused on the Faerie experience.
The Radical Faeries spiritual movement is comprised primarily and historically of gay men (though many communities now welcome other identities) and seeks to honor the interconnectedness of sexuality and nature-based spirituality. Despite the common values and traditions shared by many Radical Faeries, the group has no official definition or centralized organization.
“Faeries have spent years attempting to settle on a description of ‘what are the Radical Faeries’ with no success,” Sweet Chi says. “Each Faerie speaks for him and her self and is considered divine.”
The diversity of the Radical Faerie community is part of what inspired Sister Bhakti Shakti and Sweet Chi to curate an 80-minute collection of short films, drawing on their respective backgrounds as a community organizer and a programmer at the largest environmental film festival in the country.
“We did not know what we would find when we started, and we were ultimately thrilled with what we found,” Sweet Chi says. “In creating this festival, we hope to share some small essence of the Radical Faerie experience with film-going audiences, and also inspire those who identify as Radical Faeries to use film as a medium to explore and document what we’re about.”
The festival debuted last year in Seattle and will make its first showing in Portland April 20 at Q Center. Sweet Chi and Sister Bhakti Shakti say they hope to continue touring the festival along the West Coast to British Columbia and wherever else there is a demand.
Even if local Faeries hadn’t expressed interest in seeing the festival in Portland, it would still be a natural fit — many of the films feature or are directed by Portlanders. Films with local ties include “Beauties Without a Cause,” an early short directed by QDoc co-founder David Weissman (director of “We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco” and “The Cockettes”); “Sass Manifest,” a performance art piece directed by and starring Wayne Bund; and “Breach of Etiquette,” a drama directed by Mark Levine.
All three Portland directors will attend the festival, as will Seattle’s Gnarlene of queer punk rock band Gnarlene and the Frisky Pigs. The festival will include 10 films in all, including “Faerie Tales,” which Sweet Chi says is considered by many to be a definitive documentary about the Radical Faeries.
“We hope it will be a vessel for building community, by giving attendees a new lens to view, contemplate, and explore what it means to be a Radical Faerie; and in the larger communities — queer, film, and Portland at large — it provides a forum for people who may not have encountered Radical Faeries to have a taste of the experience,” Sweet Chi says.