This week, Out On Screen brings back the 34th Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF). Running August 11-21, online and in person, the festival has a theme of “Make It Yours” inviting audiences to return to the political grassroots.
VQFF expands video-on-demand selections provincewide with 2-3 theatre screenings per-day in Vancouver. 97 films from 20 countries, along with in-person celebrations featuring local performing artists, post-screening Q&As with filmmakers, and industry and community workshops help form one of Vancouver’s largest film festival. The Festival, presented by RBC, celebrates its 34th year more fabulous than ever with more impactful films that raise awareness about the struggles, joys and journeys of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
“In the early days of Out On Screen, the act of 2SLGBTQIA+ people unapologetically taking up physical space and putting our films on the big screen was revolutionary. This year’s theme “Make It Yours” is not just an echo of the DIY spirit this Festival was founded upon, but also a roar for our collective future. Our shared experiences and collective dreams are returning to our screens—big and small—again in this year’s wonderful program. I hope you find something you need in these beautiful films.” – Executive Director, Brandon Yan.
The Festival kicks off Thursday August 11, 6:45pm at Vancouver Playhouse with the Opening Gala, screening the local premiere of Dave Rodden-Shortt’s feature documentary The Empress of Vancouver, an ode to local drag icon Oliv Howe, crowned the 10th Empress of the Vancouver Dogwood Monarchist Society in 1981. In the 80s, Oliv’s punk rock energy, gender-bending performances and DIY glam aesthetic spoke to a political and artistic shift in Vancouver’s drag community. This proudly local documentary brings to light queer artistic legacies and histories that have previously been unseen. This film will be available exclusively in person on opening night, with the queer royalty-themed Opening Night Party to follow the screening.
The local shorts program The Coast Is Queer returns for its 25th anniversary year, available in person and online. Also returning are shorts programs: Obidian: Black Queer Cinema, subtitled AS I AM, and Two Spirit and Indigiqueer Cinema, which has been expanded into two shorts programs this year, A Brave and Tender Lineage and Sovereign Bodies.
The Festival also presents the Canadian premiere of French film Besties (Les Meilleures), a beautifully shot coming-of-age drama about two young women from opposing groups in suburban Paris navigating womanhood and queer identity. Other prominent feature film programs include local documentary Emergence: Out of the Shadows on navigating queer identity in South Asian families; ground-breaking Filipinx drama Metamorphosis on intersex identity; the delightfully absurdist, queer body-swap comedy Homebody; the Youth Gala film Being Thunder about a Two Spirit teen of the Narragansett tribe; Afrofuturist sci-fi musical Neptune Frost; and Lebanese documentary Sirens about the first and only all-women Middle Eastern thrash metal band.
VQFF’s closing feature is Dramarama, a heartfelt comedy and instant classic about a group of graduating theatre kids in 1994 spending one last slumber party together where tensions and true identities come to light. This in-person only screening wraps up the Festival, Sunday August 21st 7pm at Vancouver Playhouse.
In addition to in-person and video-on-demand screenings, VQFF will be hosting its first in-person celebrations in three years, the Opening Night Party and The Coast is Queer 25th Anniversary Celebration, as well as three workshops on queer arts practice and community-building: Queer Collective: VQFF Programers Talk; We’re Here We’re Queer, Let’s Activate!; and Out In Schools: Beyond SOGI.
Download the digital program guide for the full Festival line-up, find tickets and passes, and more information online at queerfilmfestival.ca.