‘Summer Camp’ TIFF Documentary Highlights LGBTQ+ Youth in Safe Space

In “Summer Qamp” documentary filmmaker Jen Markowitz follows a group of LGBTQ+ youth while they attend Camp fYrefly, a summer retreat in rural Alberta, Canada.

During the five-day camp, Markowitz, who identifies as they/them, captured queer, non-binary and trans teens in an environment they weren’t used to: A place that was free from judgment. Removed from bullies and uncomfortable family situations, the handful campers featured in “Summer Qamp” quickly gain confidence and build resilience.

Given the unprecedented wave of anti-LGBQT+ legislation being enacted in the U.S. as well as the global increase in LGBTQ+ intolerance, Markowitz was eager to make an uplifting doc about LGBQT+ kids who are not only being accepted, but also celebrated.

“There is a lot of anti-trans and anti-queer rhetoric that these kids are seeing in the news cycles,” says Markowitz. “For me, coming from a time when I didn’t have a community to affirm me, I know how powerful it is to see a reflection of yourself in the community that you absorb.”

In 2021, Lauren Heimer and Mia Weier, co-founders of Hello Friend Media approached Cineflix Prods.’ president and head of content J.C. Mills to ask if he would join them as an executive producer on the project. Mills came back to the pair with an instant yes.

“I always look for an opportunity to tell timely stories,” says Mills. “The conversation of what it is like to be a young adult going through a coming out or a transition is raging across not only the U.S. but also Canada. I think that it’s important for not only kids in similar situations to see their peers in a safe space, but also parents.The kids who are in this film are going through a lot and to see the look of joy on their faces when they are in a safe space where they can understand better who they are, is something I want all parents to see.”

Markowitz adds, “It’s important to show the public at large that this is a community of regular kids with regular kid problems. They are all regular kids at heart, they just happened to be really weighed down by a lot of this other stuff that is put on to them by the world.”

The 80-minute doc, which makes its world premiere at TIFF on Sept. 9, is seeking distribution. Submarine Entertainment is repping the film.

“Summer Qamp,” a Cineflix production, is presented by Bright West Entertainment and produced in association with Hello Friend, Steve Robillard and Super Channel.

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