For the last 20 years, Rainbow Reels has been promoting Queer and Trans film and art in Waterloo Region.
“We curate and present local, national, international film, content, and art that celebrates the voices of Two-spirit, Queer, and Trans people and presents authentic stories,” said Hannah Enns, an organizer with Rainbow Reels.
One of Rainbow Reels’ most recent projects is a web series: Trans Magical Academy, created by ZacKey Lime. “It’s a three-part series on YouTube looking at Trans magic, and it’s kind of an awakening story for a young Trans child who is excited to experience a realm and a world where she can truly be herself,” Enns said.
ZacKey Lime —a drag king, producer, actor, ventriloquist and puppeteer, is based in Toronto, and is invested in creating space for Queer and Trans youth. In 2018, Lime created House of Kings a bi-monthly drag king event that creates opportunities for Toronto kings and gender performers.
The Rainbow Reels Festival initiated the project by reaching out to artists who could create a short web series. Lime’s inspiration for the series came from both the proximity to Halloween and from JK Rowling’s recent Transphobic comments and actions.
“[I wanted to] use a lot of the elements of Harry Potter and just completely take them over as a Trans person and use the story to [explore] what’s wrong with what JK Rowling is doing, but kind of put it into a little bit of a different perspective so that you can see how silly what she’s saying is,” Lime said.
Lime wrote, directed, filmed, starred in and edited the project. He tells the story by using puppets and green screens, along with a few outdoor sequences.
Lime has been doing ventriloquism for over a decade and he feels enthralled by puppetry for a variety of reasons:
“ .. it’s just so magical to me, getting to animate a stuffed animal. There’s nothing more magical than that because, in my mind, stuffed animals are pretty alive, and then, when they’re puppets, you actually get to move them around,” Lime said.
“Puppets are great because I feel like [they] almost give the viewer a chance to participate, whereby the puppets are sometimes able to reflect back what you want them to.”
Creating content for children is part of Rainbow Reels’ goal of being accessible to a broad range of people. This goal includes having spaces and content that accommodate a large range of ages, following anti-oppressive practices and creating representation in their content.
Enns says it’s an important conversation to have when talking about inclusivity.
“Are we excluding someone? Are we excluding people of colour? Are we excluding Two-spirit folks from those spaces, and from the table, and from the decision-making, and from the art and the work that we put at the forefront?”
Rainbow Reels also partnered with the Kitchener Public Library (KPL) in November for Trans Month of Remembrance. To commemorate and celebrate Trans folks, they presented Trans Magical Academy’s three-part series to help KPL kids go on a journey of friendship and self-acceptance.
“ …what you grow up seeing around you is kind of just what’s ingrained in your mind as normal. Like, it would be super cool if there was more LBGTQ+ content, family-friendly content, that kids could just grow up with,” Lime said.
When Rainbow Reels creates or promotes content, they aim to focus on the concept of celebration. Queer, Trans, and Two-spirit individuals are often only portrayed in the news when they are murdered or otherwise suffering. Rainbow Reels aims to counteract this narrative by creating and promoting content that shows the positive sides of Queer, Trans, and Two-spirit life.
“… it’s really important to hold space for that and to continue to fight for inclusion in all spaces, but a part of that, too, is just celebration, and celebrating our beautiful lives,” Enns said.
Rainbow Reels will host their Holigay Market in December. Lime has also recently launched a business called Party Crashers which provides entertainment for children’s birthday parties.
Trans Magical Academy can be found on Youtube and the Rainbow Reels’ Facebook page.