At Camp fYrefly in rural Alberta, queer, non-binary, and trans teens get to just be kids in a supportive space, surrounded by counsellors who can relate to their experience ― and help them toast the perfect marshmallow.
Time is a flat circle, and the right-wing rage machine is once again persecuting queer and trans people. Jen Markowitz’s latest demonstrates that one of the best salves is sunlight ― specifically, the sun that shines down on Camp fYrefly in rural Alberta, where queer kids can spend a few days hanging out and just getting to be kids together “without any of the explanations,” as one camper puts it.
Warm, funny, and moving ― and made with obvious consideration for, and clear cooperation from, the people in front of the lens ― Summer Qamp cuts through the fear-mongering around queer and trans kids simply by spending time with its subjects as they are. The kids at Camp fYrefly are less concerned with their specific status in the LGBTQIA2S+ community than they are with what they’re going to do in the talent show or how they’re going to overcome a lifelong fear of horses ― which, honestly, does seem a lot more practical.
Removed from bullies and awkward or uncomfortable family situations, the kids immediately blossom into their empathetic, confident, amazing selves, sharing nerdy obsessions and encouraging one another to do the things that scare them. Maybe it’s petting that horse; maybe it’s telling their parents they’re trans. Either way, it’s wonderful to watch them figure it out.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: coarse language