Local directors make bold statements at Vancouver Queer Film Festival
Thirty is a milestone birthday for human beings and film festivals alike, and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) celebrates its Big 3-0 by doubling down on what it does best: presenting a packed program of wildly different films from all over the globe that celebrate and amplify queer stories.
VQFF is the second-largest film festival in the city and the largest queer arts event in Western Canada. Its milestone 30th edition kicks off on August 9 with Yen Tan’s 1985, a poignant film about love and alienation set in a Texas town during a watershed year in the AIDS crisis. From there, it’s a full-throttle, 11-day ride through 70 short and feature-length narrative and documentary films from 15 countries at venues across the city.
It’s nearly impossible to make a wrong choice when plotting your journey through a festival known for delivering big emotions, but we’re particularly excited about the films created by Vancouver artists. The Coast is Queer shorts program – which features the work of local filmmakers – is always festive and thought-provoking, and this year, VQFF introduces The Coast is Genderqueer, its first shorts program dedicated to local transgender, genderfluid, and non-binary stories.
The line-up for this year’s The Coast is Queer includes animation, documentaries, comedies, dramas, and experimental works by Andrew Gillingham (Banana), Anika Syskakis (EQ), Panta Mosleh (Pass the Salt, about two women of different faiths who bring their traditional families together to break bread), Denise Kenney and Michael V Smith (The Common Fag), Jason Karman (Lionhood), Shireen Dalbey (The Pigeon), Nic Peerson (Cosmetics), Jessica Han (Run), Layla Cameron (Fat Hiking Club, a documentary about a woman who seeks to make the outdoors more accessible for fat people), Yuki Chen (Colors), and Dominic Chan (Macho Man, a documentary about a gay Canadian of Indian heritage that explores the themes of homosexuality, masculinity, and cultural expectations).
The Coast is Genderqueer program emphasizes youth on screen and emerging filmmakers behind the camera. Its inaugural edition features films by Alli MacKay (Flash Flood, an animated work in which three transgender people confront a cataclysmic flood), Mike Hooves (Polymorph), Yue Xie (The Decision of Riley), G Goletski (Hole), and Christina Willings (Beauty, a compelling and often joyous 24-minute documentary about five gender creative kids).
Other highlights in a schedule of highlights: the psychosexual ghost story Octavio is Dead! from filmmaker, broadcaster, musician, and activist Sook-Yin Lee; Alaska is a Drag (a narrative film about a budding drag superstar in a small Alaskan town); Call Her Ganda (a documentary about Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman who was murdered by a US Marine in 2014); and White Rabbit (in which a Korean-American performance artist who struggles to be authentically heard and seen through her multiple identities in modern Los Angeles).
Happy birthday, VQFF!
Pictured above: a still from ‘Beauty’