Akron

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 87 min

The fierce bonds of family are tested against the temptations of love when Benny (Matthew Frias), a Mexican-American medical student at the University of Akron, and Christopher (Edmund Donovan), a handsome arts undergraduate, meet at a pickup football game. The connection is instant, and with the support of their family and friends, Benny and Christopher start a relationship.

Unbeknownst to the two, the meet-cute at the football game is not the first time they have crossed paths. As their families become involved, a past incident involving the two clans is slowly uncovered, leaving Benny with a tough choice.

Akron details a very specific relationship in a certain setting, but you don’t have to be from Ohio to get the universal messages it sends about family, forgiveness, and love.

Spotlight Sponsor:  1.-RBC

Screening Sponsors: Delta Airlines, DailyXtra.com, James Goodman, Scotiabank

 

SFU GCA
International Village

Aligarh

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 114 min

Receiving standing ovations at festivals across the world, the latest film from director Hansal Mehta is a landmark in Indian cinema. Based on real-life events, this cinematically rich work is set in the heated moment between the Delhi High Court’s discharge of Section 377 (the anti-sodomy law enacted during colonial rule) and its later re-amendment. A 64-year-old poet and professor, Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras (played by the gifted Manoj Bajpayee), endures a home invasion by thug “journalists” who videotape him in bed with another man. This video leads to suspension from his teaching post at Aligarh University and growing condemnation from his colleagues. Meanwhile, Deepu, an ambitious journalist at the Indian Express, finds out about these events and tries to befriend Siras to uncover the real story.

Aligarh embraces hard questions about the legal unsteadiness of a post-colonial state and media ethics, along with more poetic questions of how one’s desire and sexuality are not always nameable. Framed by the haunting music of Lata Mangeshkar, the film shows what happens when a gentle man is caught in the war for social change.

Screening Sponsors: Vij’s Restaurant, McCarthy Tétrault

Please note: the visit by director Hansal Mehta listed in our program guide has unfortunately been cancelled.

International Village

Arianna

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 84 min

In the first scene of Arianna, the captivating protagonist shares that she was born three times. It’s in the hazy summer before her third rebirth that the film takes place, as Arianna (Ondina Quadri) and her parents travel to their country home, where a host of memories await. As the family prepares to leave, Arianna insists on staying behind for the rest of the season.

Ondina Quadri is a revelation as the young woman who, at 19 years old, hasn’t had her period yet and is longing for the kind of sexual liaisons her cousin is having. Despite modest gains in her breast size due to hormones from specialists recommended by her doctor dad, Arianna is convinced there’s something wrong with her. As she watches the other young adults frolic around the countryside, she is motivated by an insatiable yearning to feel something new.

With gorgeous cinematography that owes much of its sparkling tones to the setting of Lake Bolsena, Arianna is a stylish, skilfully crafted rumination on the decisions that are made for us.

Spotlight Sponsor:  SFUW_LogoWordm_3C

Screening Sponsor: Hospital Employees Union

SFU GCA

AWOL

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 85 min

Joey (Lola Kirke) is a bright young woman living in a small town. When her mom suggests that she join the army, Joey agrees. It turns out that the military life suits her quite well…that is, until she meets Rayna (Breeda Wool).

Directed by Deb Shoval (who originally directed a short of the same name), AWOL deftly captures the rural Pennsylvania landscape and delves sensitively into its characters’ conflicts. Fresh off starring roles in productions such as Mistress America and Mozart in the Jungle, Kirke gives Joey an understated thoughtfulness. Like many young people, Joey has to decide whether or not to leave the only place she’s ever called home, and who she’s going to take with her.

A Tribeca Film Festival nominee for best narrative feature, this film is guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings. AWOL marks Kirke as one of the next stars of her generation.

Screening Sponsors: Modo, OUTtv, Plane Creative

International Village
International Village

Best of: Love Letters

Film category: Short and Short films collection.

Runtime: 85 min

From the kinkiest leather opera to barbershop flirtations, this collection of some of our favourite shorts of the year takes us through courtships, break-ups to celebrate, and searching for a lost love in a country that doesn’t understand or believe. A whimsical and true-to-life collection that reminds us of the irresistible joys and pains of love.

Screening Sponsors: Delta Airlines, Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, VIFF Vancity Theatre

Vancity Theatre

Changemakers

Film category: Short and Short films collection.

Runtime: 63 min

Our newest local showcase Changemakers returns with a moving and inspiring selection about local trans* activists who work with compassion, tenacity and creativity to transform their communities for the better. In Alliance follows one of Vancouver’s leading figures, Morgane Oger, as she sets out to improve the lives of all transgender people through education and advocacy—all while discovering her new life as a transgender mom. Handsome and Majestic (which premiered at Hot Docs) is all about Milan—a transgender teen in Prince George whose courage in the face of adversity is a lesson in hope, survival and connection. Lastly, To be a Man introduces the charismatic Levi in his first year, outwardly, as a man. This is bound to be a rousing presentation and post-film discussion with directors and featured subjects in attendance.

Directors and cast in attendance.

Spotlight Sponsors:   SFUW_LogoWordm_3C

Screening Sponsors: IATSE Local 891, Plane Creative

SFU GCA

Chemsex

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 83 min

It looks like a bunch of greedy promiscuous gay boys going out and having sex on drugs. It’s more complicated than that. –Dr. David Stuart

As the practice of chemsex (mixing drugs with sex) has increased, it seems everyone has an opinion on it, both inside and outside of the gay community. VICE directors Max Gogarty and William Fairman focus on participants in a 56 Dean Street Sexual Health Clinic program (led by special guest Dr. David Stuart) who wished to share their experiences to help others similarly struggling with chemsex. With candid footage of participants’ engagement with the chemsex scene, images of drug use (injection and otherwise) and sex, the film offers an opportunity for more conversations about intimacy, HIV, and wellness.

Followed by a Q&A with visiting guest Dr. David Stuart of London’s 56 Dean St Clinic, and a panel discussion with some of Vancouver’s leading health workers.

Please note: graphic images of injection drug-use, BDSM and sex

Screening Sponsor: Hastings Crossing BIA

SFU GCA

Coast is Queer

Film category: Short films collection.

Runtime: 90 min

BC artists offer an eclectic combination ranging from personal, daily connections with strangers to time-travelling across dimensions for a lost love. Experimental meets slick sci-fi meets social justice documentary—it’s The Coast is Queer!

Directors in attendance.

Screening Sponsor: Creative BC

SFU GCA

Fire Song

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 85 min

Fire Song, the first feature from writer/director Adam Garnet Jones, debuted at TIFF to rave reviews last year and won two different audience awards while making its way around the festival circuit. We’re bringing it back to Vancouver by popular demand.

On a northern Ontario Anishinaabe reserve plagued by a high suicide rate, Shane (Andrew Martin), a closeted high school senior, dreams of leaving for university in Toronto, but money is tight. As Shane tries to deal with the loss of his sister, he is faced with the choice between his family and his future, while also trying to be true to himself. Martin, a young Mohawk actor from Six Nations in Ontario, the largest First Nations reserve in Canada, shines in his debut performance. So does Mary Galloway as his girlfriend Tara, a role that garnered her a Leo nomination.

A filmmaker of both Cree and Métis heritage, Jones is based in Toronto but is no stranger to Vancouver or the VQFF.

Spotlight Sponsor: VanMGM_Logo_Small1

Screening Sponsors: Cineplex, Modo, UBC CSIS

International Village

First Girl I Loved

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 91 min

[This] is not a past tense high school film—all the emotions and revelations register intensely in the moment. A startling, sumptuous subversion of queer coming-of-age tropes. – FilmMisery

The Audience Award: NEXT Winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, First Girl I Loved is an achingly realistic portrayal of three Latinx high school students living through the everyday—yet pivotal and intractable—moments of adolescence that push them into adulthood.

Quirky high school yearbook photographer Anne Santos (Dylan Gelula, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) becomes enamoured with popular all-star athlete Sasha Basanez (Brianna Hildebrand, Deadpool), and will do anything to get Sasha’s attention. But when Anne’s best friend, Clifton (Mateo Arias), wants more than friendship, he commits a terrible sexual violation.

Known for his casting aptitude and ability to showcase the lives of “real people,” writer/director Kerem Sanga gives us a no-holds-barred offering that underscores the incredible maturity required to survive high school.

Post-film Q&A with Director:
Kerem Sanga

Spotlight Sponsor:  1.-RBC

Screening Sponsor: Cineplex, Plane Creative, Scotiabank

International Village
International Village

Front Cover

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 86 min

When Ryan (Jake Choi), a Chinese-American fashion stylist in New York who feels disconnected from his ethnic heritage, is assigned a photo shoot with Ning (James Chen), a famous Beijing actor, things get off to a rocky start.

Although Ning demands an Asian stylist, Ryan doesn’t meet his stringent requirements. Ning views Ryan’s rejection of traditional Chinese ideals and his homosexuality as “abnormal”. The two eventually develop a bond, however, and start to see versions of themselves in each other.

Directed by Raymond Yeung in his first feature film since 2006’s Cut Sleeve Boys, Front Cover delicately balances the tension between two men. Refreshingly, Front Cover stands out for its rejection of Asian stereotypes around relationships and family, and pleases as a perfect date night film as Ryan and Ning discover they have more in common than they thought.

Post-film Q&A with Director:
Ray Yeung

Screening Sponsors: Cineplex, OPUS Hotel, Scotiabank

International Village
International Village

Gayby Baby

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 85 min

Featuring an endearing cast of eloquent kids, Gayby Baby is an honest, heartwarming look at growing up in a world where your very existence is political. The first feature film from director Maya Newell, who is herself a “gayby”, focuses on four Australian preteens growing up with same-sex parents in a country that has still not achieved marriage equality. A recent ban on showing the film in an Australian school drew international attention, exemplifying the problem that Newell’s film highlights: the exclusion of children from the debate that centres on them.

Gayby Baby triumphs in highlighting the universality of both parenthood and childhood, while simultaneously showcasing the unique challenges faced by “gaybies”. As one child questions his religion which decries same-sex relationships, another is asked by his fathers to hide their family structure as they move to a new country. As we follow the lives of the “gaybies” through their trials and triumphs, it’s impossible not to cheer for them and their loving parents.

Spotlight Sponsor:  1.-RBC

Screening Sponsors: Delta Airlines, Scotiabank

International Village

Girls Lost (Pojkarna)

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 106 min

Girls Lost is that all-too-rare item: something new under the sun. – Steve Gravestock, TIFF

Girls Lost is a highly compelling and dangerous work of magical fiction that explores gender and sexual awakening with Joss Whedon-like speculative invention. Based on the Swedish young-adult novel Pojkarna (The Boys), the film brings aching honesty to three students’ struggles through brutal torment and assaults by their classmates. After sowing the seeds of a mysterious plant that grows with supernatural speed, they decide to try the special liquor collecting in its flowers—and it turns them into boys overnight. This sudden metamorphosis starts out comic (as, for instance, they explore their new penises) and then becomes deeply insightful as they decide to venture out into the world in their new incarnations. Temptations, attractions, and dangerous alliances eventually bring them to the terrifying reality that this is much more than a fantastical foray. A refreshingly realized take on transgender awakening as well as persisting gender inequalities, Girls Lost is a must-see at this year’s VQFF.

Spotlight Sponsors:  1.-RBC   

Screening Sponsor: Cineplex, IBM, McCarthy Tétrault

International Village
International Village

Home Movies: Rainbow Family Shorts

Genre: Family.
Film category: Short and Short films collection.

Runtime: 79 min

Join us for a fun afternoon on Granville Island! This collection embraces the loving diversity of what it means to be a family. Whether it’s a purposeful journey of 40 years, or a new challenge from those who refuse to understand, these families hold each other fiercely, and no one is letting go.

After the films, come find us on the grassy field behind the False Creek Community Centre for a queer families picnic! Pack a picnic dinner and meet up with friends and family for waterpark fun. We’ll bring the watermelon.

Video Storytelling too! Want to record your thoughts about what you love about your family? We invite everyone to participate, and we’ll assemble all your responses into a video we’ll share with you after the festival.

Programmed by: Myriam Dumont and Sir Backs

Spotlight Sponsor:  1.-RBC

Screening Sponsors: Granville Island CMHC

Emily Carr

In Particular, barbara findlay

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 54 min

A moving tribute to Vancouver-based, feminist and unlearning-oppression lawyer barbara findlay, who continues to make “the world shake around her” as she fights for queer and trans* justice and equality. This compelling portrait shines a light on 40 years of experiences that have helped to define her, from growing up in Regina, and the “utterly common” injustice of being sent to a psychiatric asylum for her sexuality, to her decision to pursue law school at a time when few women dared to enter the profession. Her life is an inspiration, and her defiant realization is potent: “There was nothing wrong with me, there was something wrong with the world.” One of her essential skills is building a community of allies, friends, and clients (many of whom are also featured, including Sadie Kuehn, Kimberly Nixon, Gayle Roberts, and Tru Wilson). The VQFF is bringing In Particular, barbara findlay back to Vancouver audiences based on popular demand. It’ll be a transformative evening and a vital reminder of the importance of our queer histories.

Director Becca Plucer and barbara findlay in attendance, with many special guests for a post-screening discussion

Screening Sponsors: Cineplex, West End Business Improvement Association

International Village

It Runs in the Family

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 46 min

Ever wonder what it would be like to search for all the queers in your extended family?

After gay Filipino-Canadian artist Jay Cabalu comes out to his family, he discovers he isn’t alone. He and his sister, local filmmaker Joella Cabalu, decide to set out on a quest to meet their queer relatives, from Vancouver to California and then to Manila. The siblings’ conversations with these reconnected family members offer significant insight into their shared struggles: reconciling queerness with Catholicism and family, and the ephemeral, evolving search for queer heritage. As an artist, Jay also brings beautiful visual renderings to his own journey—a journey that ended up inspiring a touching, fascinating family reunion.

Director Joella Cabalu, Producer Cari Green, and Jay Cabalu in attendence

Screening Sponsor: Be the Change Group Inc., Scotiabank

International Village

Kiki

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 94 min

Welcome to the wonderland of the Kiki scene, where everyone is unique and “everything is in transition”. Kiki is a project by director Sara Jordenö and writer Twiggy Pucci Garçon, providing a glimpse into New York’s newest generation of Black LGBTQ+ youth in all their fabulous and ferocious, game-changing glory. Part homage to Paris is Burning, Kiki is the reminder that the ball scene was not a phenomenon, but the bustling source of a trans* and queer celebration of bodies and identities, and one that continues in its own explosive full force.

Kiki showcases the personal stories of seven youth of colour as they show and tell their experiences of coming-of-age in New York City. The Kiki underground vogue/ballroom scene is a stepping-stone for youth interested in ball culture who are developing their skills for heightened level of competition. As the houses battle gorgeously across dance floors, stages, and the piers of New York City, the film also shows their fight to matter while the harsh realities of gentrification and police brutality threaten their journeys. Part of the inspiration in Kiki comes from an awe-inspiring glimpse into the informal networks of youth-driven leadership, mentorship, support, and refuge in the scene. With a driving score by ballroom DJ MikeQ and his Qween Beat label-mates, Kiki offers a portrait of hope, strength, resilience and the myriad possibilities that come with queer and trans* youth owning their futures.

Spotlight Sponsor:  SFUW_LogoWordm_3C

Screening Sponsor: Scotiabank

Vancouver Playhouse

Lovesong

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 85 min

So Yong Kim’s fourth feature brings Hollywood rising stars Jena Malone (Pride & Prejudice, Into the Wild and Hunger Games) and Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Girlfriend Experience—and, notably, she’s also the grandchild of Elvis Presley) to this intimate indie about a friendship that gets complicated by love.

Riley Keough plays a mom in her 20s whose husband (Cary Joji Fukunaga) is conspicuously and almost permanently absent due to work obligations. When her teenhood bestie (played with bad-girl confidence by Jena Malone) comes to visit, she brings a vivacity to the family’s big house in the ‘burbs, and helps to enliven things for a bit. But this intimate friendship may be turning into something else—or will they sabotage it instead?

With superb performances, and Kim’s script that captures the profound moments in the everyday, Lovesong provides a treasurable glimpse into the lives of women on the brink of something exciting.

Skype Q&A with director So Yong Kim to follow

Screening Sponsors: Delta Airlines, West End Business Improvement Association

SFU GCA

Major!

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 91 min

Remember when that fictional movie about Stonewall came out starring a white cisgender lead from the American Midwest and activists railed in all caps about the trans* women of colour the film had excluded from history? Well, many of us heard a lot about Miss Major then, an exuberant, inspiring, formerly incarcerated Black transgender elder, former sex worker, community leader, human rights activist, and veteran of the Stonewall Rebellion—exactly the kind of person who merits a carefully crafted, inclusive biopic all her own.

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, now 73 years old, takes us on a highly enjoyable guided tour through her 40-year fight for the rights of trans* women of colour. Infused with Miss Major’s trademark wit and larger-than-life personality, Major! tackles in its subject’s signature way the injustices of incarceration, the discriminatory legal economies in prison systems, the need for self-determination, and the incredible possibilities of personal/political kinship.

Skype Q&A with Miss Major and director Annalise Ophelian to follow

Spotlight Sponsor:  SFUW_LogoWordm_3C

Screening Sponsors: OUTtv, Plane Creative

SFU GCA

Miles

Genre: Comedy.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 90 min

Based on a true story and replete with ‘90s nostalgia, from beaded bracelets to dial-up modems, Miles tells the story of a kid from the farming community of Pondley, Illinois, who is desperate to fight his small-town fate and move to Chicago for a better life. When he finds out about a volleyball scholarship, Miles joins his school’s only volleyball team…but the catch is, it’s a girls’ team. A cast of familiar favourites enhances this lighthearted gem’s popular appeal, including the one and only Molly Shannon (SNL), the fierce Missi Pyles, and Paul Reiser (Mad About You).

More than a teen drama, this enriching and delightful film gives us a new angle on a coming-of-age queer film, one in which youth work together with those who love them, parents and teachers alike. Nathan Adloff (Nate and Margaret, VQFF ’11) gives us a joyful celebration of ordinary people finding their own way.

Screening Sponsors: Be the Change Group Inc., Cineplex, Modo

International Village
International Village

North Mountain

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 75 min

Winner of the Best Feature Film at the Screen Nova Scotia Awards, North Mountain is a Two-Spirit action thriller filmed in the snowy winterlands of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, by rising Métis filmmaker Bretten Hannam. Young hunter Wolf (played by the gorgeous Justin Rain) finds Crane (acclaimed actor Glen Gould), a mysterious older fugitive wounded in the woods, and nurses him back to health. Wolf becomes embroiled in Crane’s past as a slew of sideways cops seek revenge. Billed as Brokeback Mountain meets Rambo, the film experiments with genre, fluidly taking shape as Wolf and Crane hold their ground while their collective pasts return to haunt them amid the terror of the present. Filled with queer hunter brawls, bloody hatchets and arrows, and brave plot twists, North Mountain is a refreshing, Tarantino-esque action thriller rimmed with threads of romance.

Spotlight Sponsor: VanMGM_Logo_Small1

Screening Sponsor: Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, The English Bay Swim Club

Vancity Theatre

Paris 05:59: Théo et Hugo

Genre: Date Night.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 97 min

The 2009 winners of the Prix Jean Vigo, Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (Jeanne and the Perfect Guy) create what Variety has called their “boldest and best movie so far”. Winner of the Audience Award at the Berlinale’s 2016 Teddy Awards, Paris 05:59: Théo et Hugo is a contemporary love story. We third-wheel Théo and Hugo all over the City of Love, from their steamy start in a writhing Parisian sex club, through the gorgeously deserted streets of Paris on bicycles, by metro, along a canal, into the sterility of hospitals, and, of course, at the local kebab shop. Without being salacious, this intensely romantic and erotic film follows the two lovers as they grapple with the collision of fantasy and reality. The street corners of Paris at night are ever-sensuous as the two charismatic actors communicate as much through their eyes and bodies as through words in their exploration of le coup de foudre (love at first sight).

Screening Sponsors: Cineplex, DailyXtra.com

Rio Theatre
International Village

Re:Orientations

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 68 min

“We had to prove we exist as a gay Asian community.” In 1984, the pioneering video artist, cultural theorist and activist Richard Fung brought us a groundbreaking documentary, Orientations: Lesbian and Gay Asians. Thirty years later, in Re:Orientations, he revisits seven of the original subjects for a fascinating, intersectional exploration of race, class and more. Fung captures rich reflections on aging, connectedness, marriage, desire, solidarity work, and the questioning and curiosity involved in his subjects’ efforts to change the world. Of course, none of this would feel complete without the voices of the younger generation, so Re:Orientations introduces us to several young queer Asians who are bringing new commitment to queer spaces and the activist tradition of those who went before them.

Post-film Q&A with Director:
Richard Fung

Screening Sponsor: Be the Change Group Inc., Delta Airlines

Vancity Theatre

Real Boy

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 72 min

Real Boy is the coming-of-age story of Bennett Wallace, a transgender teenager in California on a journey to find his voice—as a musician, a friend, a son, and a man. As he navigates the ups and downs of young adulthood, he must also work to gain the love and support of his mother, who has deep misgivings about her child’s transition. Along the way, Bennett forges a powerful friendship with his idol, Joe Stevens, a celebrated transgender musician with his own demons to fight. Their relationship is a poignant reminder of the positive influences of friendship and mentorship. Real Boy shows us that every transformative journey brings both difficult and magical moments—the stuff of a great folk song.

The Directors and Milan and his family of the preceding short, Handsome and Majestic, will be in attendance for a post-film Q+A.

Spotlight Sponsor:  1.-RBC

Screening Sponsor: RBC

SFU GCA

Retake

Genre: Date Night.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 98 min

How do you make sure you’ll never forget the happiest moments of your life? A mysterious middle-aged man picks up a young, vibrant hustler in San Francisco with the intention of going on a road trip to the Grand Canyon—and, by extension, memory lane. Jonathan wants his escort to go by the name “Brandon,” as they try (with uneven success) to make the best of a journey that’s part fantasy and part reality. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Grand Canyon, Retake is a meditation on grief and loneliness, the intimacies of sexual labour, and the possibility that sometimes the best closure is a wide-open cavern. A loving exploration of what it takes to move gently forward.

Screening Sponsor: Plane Creative

International Village

Scene Queen!

Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 90 min

Vancouver Art and Leisure along with the VQFF present a night of film and frolicking! In the grand participatory, audience-interactive tradition of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, join us in throwing some shade, and acting out like that one family member who talks over the entire movie! Our drop-dead gorgeous hostess Alma B*tches will “read to filth” a top secret campy cult classic while you lounge and heckle in style.

Cult Classic film to be announced once you’re there!

Followed by Prance Hall: A queer dance hall experience.

Programmed by: Bradley Galbraith

Vancouver Arts and Leisure

Southwest of Salem

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 91 min

San Antonio Texas, 1994. Four Latina lesbians live through a modern-day witch hunt and the “last gasp of satanic ritual abuse panic” as they are accused—and unjustly convicted—of the sexual assault of two young girls. Director Deborah S Esquenazi takes us through an in-depth cultural study of the intersections of myth and justice in the criminal justice system, revealing how persistent homophobic and sexist biases (and an implied association with cults and covens) may have condemned the “San Antonio Four”. News clips, interviews, legal case writings, and family videos paint a disturbing but always compelling portrait of the women’s outrageous journey, which has not yet ended. From Tribeca to Hot Docs, Southwest of Salem has been heralded as an instant classic of queer cinema.

Screening Sponsors: Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, McCarthy Tétrault

International Village
Vancity Theatre

Spa Night

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 97 min

Spa Night is Andrew Ahn’s second film to premiere at Sundance Film Festival (after Dol) to great reception. Inspired by Ahn’s own personal experiences, this nuanced family drama brings the struggle of the American Dream to the forefront. David (played by Joe Seo), the only son of a Korean-American family, struggles with his identity, torn between what his parents want him to do and his own curiosities. While watching his parents wrestle to make ends meet, David takes a job at a Korean spa. The spa is a character of its own, where David learns that the place where he scrubs his father’s back is also a popular location for men to engage in sex. This dreamy, poignant family drama delivers much more than stunning images of LA and the ambiance of the spa. As Variety describes, “Spa Night serves as an homage to the sacrifices first-generation immigrants made … expanding the concept of ‘pride’ far beyond its protagonist’s gay identity.”

International Village

Strike a Pose

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 85 min

In 1990, before embarking on her hotly anticipated Blonde Ambition tour, Madonna had to choose a group of back-up dancers. With her selections, the lives of seven men—all Black, Latino, Asian, and six-sevenths of them gay—would never be the same.

The tour and the documentary that chronicled it, 1991’s Truth or Dare, showcased images that were “too gay” for some, including the famous kissing scene and an impressive deep-throat wine bottle tutorial. “I’m just showing life,” Madonna said at the time, but as a news report in the film decried, “There are even images of two men kissing!” Whatever your opinion of Madge – whether she appropriated gay and underground vogue dance culture, or gifted us with her star power and allyship – it’s undeniable that she unapologetically thrust gay sexuality into the mainstream spotlight. Controversy continued long after the tour, when three of the dancers sued Madonna after Truth or Dare was released.

Twenty-five years later, six of the dancers remain, their collective stories at turns illuminating and heartbreaking. Skilled documentarian Ester Gould (Shout) and co-director Reijer Zwaan bring a touching, intimate tale of seven men who flew very close to a brightly shining but impossibly scorching star.

Post-film Q&A with special guests Blonde Ambition World Tour dancers (Aug 17 screening only):
Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza
Kevin Stea

Screening Sponsors: DailyXtra.com, West End Business Improvement Association

Vancouver Playhouse
International Village

Summertime (La Belle Saison)

Genre: Drama.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 105 min

Summertime spans a romance that launches in the vibrant Paris of the early 1970s, when feminist activity flourished in the city, and moves to take root in the beautiful French countryside. Brought to life by the masterful director Catherine Corsini (Three Worlds, Leaving), Summertime is at once sensual, exhilarating, and a paean to that brief, carefree window of youth in which expectations and dreams are suddenly liberated from familial confines.

Delphine (played by Izïa Higelin) helps her parents run the family farm. She travels to the big city where she meets Carole (the firebrand activist played by Cécile De France), who teaches Spanish and is at the forefront of the burgeoning feminist movement. As Carole guides Delphine into a new world of politics, an unlikely romance develops. When Delphine is called home to care for her ailing father, Carole follows her. Jeanne Lapoirie’s camera revels in the sumptuous country life to which Carole tries to adapt, and Grégoire Hetzel’s decadent music accentuates every frame as the two women confront the realities of the different worlds they inhabit and the realization that pushing forward will mean leaving something behind. Summertime is a poetic tale that thrives in the love and political idealism of Carole and Delphine as they confront the question: Is love really all you need?

Screening Sponsors: OUTtv, Scotiabank

Vancouver Playhouse
International Village

Troublemakers Film Project

Film category: Short films collection.

Runtime: 50 min

This June, VQFF and Reel Youth paired up to create a unique filmmaking project that matched aspiring youth filmmakers with changemaking seniors whose stories deserve to be told. The result is a heartwarming collection of new friendships that span generations, and 10 new short documentaries of leaders who continue to make indelible, progressive impacts. Featured are Mary Bryson, Bon Fabian, Gordon Hardy, Janine Fuller, Sadie Kuehn, Sandy-Leo Laframboise, Stephen Lytton, David Myers, Kimberly Nixon, and Reginald Manning (AKA Mona Lee Empress 2 of Vancouver 1973).

With special thanks to Reel Youth’s Mark Vonesch and Mutya Macatumpag, and Out in Schools’ Jen Sung.

Films created by:

Brea May
Tedi Lake
Husayn
Aria Mohseni
Leroy Wan
Farzana Yussuf
Ripley Burton
Zeila Fernandez
Tru Wilson
Morgan Strug
Andrew Ng
Atom Honest
Wen Tsai

 

Join us for a post-film discussion with all the “Troublemakers”!

Supported by funding from: BC Arts Council

International Village

Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 71 min

Directors Mark Kenneth Woods and Michael Yerxa bring us the best-titled film of the festival—an exploration of what happens when a remote Arctic community decides to hold an LGBT2Q+ pride celebration. Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things provides insightful historical grounding on how colonization, religion, forced migration, and cultural assimilation have impacted gender and sexuality in Inuit culture. Then the focus shifts—as it should—to Inuit traditions of sexuality and gender that predate colonial notions of pride and queerness. The film also covers recent activities in Iqaluit, including the origins of annual pride events and new high school initiatives. This layered doc is a labour of love that asks important questions about cultural survival, the process of regaining histories, and what self-determination may bring.

Followed by: Two-Spirit Directions workshop with Harlan Pruden

Spotlight Sponsors:  SFUW_LogoWordm_3C     VanMGM_Logo_Small1

Screening Sponsors: DailyXtra.com, Telus

SFU GCA

Waiting for B (A Longa Espera)

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 71 min

Hey to all the Bey fans out there! To gain early entry to the Beyoncé show in São Paulo, Brazil, you can spend US$700, or you can get there early. As in two months early, like the collection of superfans featured in Waiting for B. Beyoncé’s line-up in the Brazilian megalopolis quickly morphs into a meeting place for youth who encounter all kinds of discrimination in other parts of their lives, but who find chosen family here—and in full drag. Paulo Cesar Toledo and Abigail Spindel deliver a compelling, thoroughly enjoyable portrait of an entire fan culture, where pop is powerful and twerking is both a physical and a political movement. Busting forth at the intersections of queer and pop culture, Waiting for B demonstrates Beyoncé’s global reach as a triumphant symbol for Black lives and resistance.

Screening sponsor: Dr Langston Raymond

SFU GCA

Weekends

Genre: Documentary.
Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 98 min

“If G-Voice was a man he’d be an attractive badass,” says one of the subjects near the beginning of Weekends, Lee Dong-ha’s documentary about a South Korean gay men’s choir.

G-Voice is the name of the choir and, for several dozen men in South Korea, it is a source of happiness, inclusion and, well, eye candy. As the choir reaches its tenth anniversary and prepares to play South Korea’s first gay wedding, tensions begin to run high. But the choir runs into a score of homophobic obstacles that they must overcome in order to ring in an historic moment.

Winner of the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, Weekends, with its lively characters and zest for life, is impossible not to love. Dong-ha’s first feature-length documentary serves as a reminder of the joy in music and community.

Screening Sponsor: 24 Frames

International Village

Romance alert: “habibi” is a term of affection that means “my love” in Arabic and Turkish. In the follow-up to his award-winning short, Das Phallometer (VQFF ’14), writer/director Tor Iben focuses his lens on the story of Ibo, short for Ibrahim (Cem Alkan), a gentle, closeted college graduate of Turkish heritage. Ibo comes across Ali, short for Alexander (Martin Walde), a straight, criminally-inclined German wrestler, and is instantly mesmerized.

As the two men forge a surprising but mutually beneficial friendship, both are pushed into honesty: Ali must learn to give up his criminal ways, while Ibo must reveal his authentic self to those around him. Iben has found a revelation in Alkan, who, in his debut performance, portrays Ibo with sensitivity and subtlety.

With its director’s signature candour, humour, and insight, the film also meditates expertly on the experiences of working-class Turkish immigrants and their German-born progeny. A rom-com with a twist, from a rising talent in queer cinema.

This presentation is part of Migrant Voices, presented by Carl Meadows and Les Dick.

Screening Sponsors: Cineplex, DailyXtra.com, TELUS, West End Business Improvement Association

Rio Theatre
International Village

Women Who Kill

Film category: Feature.

Runtime: 91 min

A gripping, terrifying, awkward, wry, and at times eerily prescient depiction of the vagaries of modern romance, Women Who Kill is a must-see for queers who have ever found themselves caught in the grips of commitment phobia. Desperate to free herself from the confines of codependency with her former girlfriend and podcast co-host Jean (Ann Carr), Morgan (played by writer and director Ingrid Jungermann, who also co-starred in VQFF’s 2015 selection LYLE) plunges into a new relationship with the beautiful, inscrutable, and potentially dangerous Simone (Sheila Vand of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night). Set in New York City’s Park Slope neighbourhood and drawing on Jungermann’s previous work in The Slopes and F to 7th, the film displays its director’s penchant for exposing the absurd in queer relationships. An engrossing, unprecedented fusion that garnered a well-earned premiere at the vaunted Tribeca Film Festival, Women Who Kill delivers equal parts noir, murder mystery, and psychological thriller, while unsettling our assumptions about love and whodunits.

Post-film Q&A with Director:
Ingrid Jungermann

Screening Sponsors: Cineplex, OUTtv

International Village