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The Latest from VQFF

  • Get ready for VQFF 2021!
    May 20, 2021

    We know you’re just as excited as we are for this year’s Vancouver Queer Film Festival, but we’re still putting all the details together. Here are 5 common questions, and some bonus tips, we’ve been seeing this spring. Have a look and make sure you’re ready to join us this summer!

    Will there be a Vancouver Queer Film Festival this year?
    Yes! We are excited to celebrate queer, trans, and Two Spirit lives with you this summer. The 2021 VQFF will run from August 12 to 22 with a mostly digital offering of films, Q&As, workshops, and panels.

    Why is VQFF online again this year?
    We begin planning the next Festival about a year in advance, just as our current VQFF is closing. This means we have to make decisions on how and where we will celebrate queer communities with the best information available at the time. We also know we have to plan in such a way as to honour the expectations of the communities we serve, which means planning carefully and with the utmost care for the folks who will be attending our film screenings.

    This year, we want to continue to provide the meaningful and celebratory experience patrons like you have come to expect from the VQFF, while also making sure that everyone can participate in the Festival safely and abide by social distancing guidelines. We also need to make sure we are being prudent in how we manage the finances, logistics, and capacity of a major arts festival at this time. Last year we proved that we could balance all of these complicated factors online, and while we acknowledge we’d all rather be gathered in person enjoying popcorn and the communal cinema experience, we know it isn’t safe to do so for everyone.

    How do I buy tickets, passes, and memberships? How much are they?
    Passes will go on-sale on Wednesday, May 26. Passes provide a rich festival experience, allowing you to see any film in our program. This year, virtual passes are $175 and we’re offering an access price of $145. Early Bird pricing is in effect until July 11 – get yours now!

    We’re planning to have everything you need to join the Festival on our website in July with plenty of time for you to plan your VQFF experience. New this year, single tickets are offered on a range from $5 to $25, allowing you to choose what you are able to afford and would like to pay.

    We also encourage you to consider becoming a Reel Patron Donor. As a donor, you’ll have access to unique Festival Benefits like tickets, passes, and special events while supporting LGBT2Q+ communities.

    I’m planning to watch with friends, do we all need to buy tickets?
    Just like last year, you only need to purchase one (1) ticket per household to watch a film. If you have multiple people in your household who will be watching and wish to account for that, we encourage you to make a donation in any amount during the checkout process, or to consider paying a little more for your ticket, but neither is necessary.

    Will I have to watch films on a schedule this year?
    This year we’re working with filmmakers and film distributors to see if we can offer some films on a VOD-basis.

    VOD stands for Video On Demand – meaning the program is live and available to be streamed at any time, kind of like Netflix or YouTube. We’re trying to get as many films as possible under this kind of schedule since it gives you the most flexibility and choice in watching films. That being said, VOD isn’t always the best option for filmmakers and other artists, plus we love knowing we’re watching a film together with a whole bunch of other people – even if we’re not all in the same cinema.

    If you have a ticket for a VOD film screening, you’ll have 24 hours to complete the film screening after you press play the first time, so you’ll still need to schedule your viewings to make sure you have time.

    Some of our films will be scheduled like a regular festival and will only be available for a limited time. We hope you’ll join us at the designated screening times, but scheduled films are available for a single viewing for 24 hours from their scheduled start time. For example, if a film is scheduled to begin at 7PM on Tuesday, you have until 7PM on Wednesday to watch it.

    We’ll have more details about how, when, and where to watch films this year as we confirm the schedule.

    Bonus Tip: Setup your home theatre!
    This year’s Festival is going to be mostly online, so take the next couple of months to make sure you’ve got everything you need to watch films. You can screen films on any internet connected device, including your phone, tablet, or computer. Some people also like to cast or mirror their devices to their home tv screens. Take time to research which viewing option will be best for you so you’re all set in August. We can’t wait to watch with you!

  • What to watch: Holi-gay Edition
    December 23, 2020

    As we close this incredibly difficult year, many of us without our usual celebrations or gatherings, we’ll be looking to stories to affirm our experiences and connect us to the world and our communities. While we stay safe at home, here are a few films to get you through the last few days of 2020, that whether you’re looking for a cathartic cry, a gut-busting laugh, or a journey in a world different from your own surroundings.

    Evening Shadows

    Set in a village in South India, Evening Shadows follows Kartik, a young gay man in a happy relationship who has yet to come out to his family. When the prospects of an arranged marriage become more real, Kartik must figure out how to tell his family who he really is. Yes, this is another coming-out story, but it’s one which still needs screen time. For many queer folks of colour, the decision to come out is fraught with the fear of losing not only familial support, but also cultural connection. In tight knit South Asian communities, mutual support from family and community is essential to survival, and an integral aspect of culture. Evening Shadows illustrates these complexities with warmth and humour, making it a lovely family film to watch with your household or your family as you distance together.

    Where to watch: Netflix

    The Queen

    This 1968 documentary is a precursor to Paris is Burning, and captures the antics, drama, intimacy and artistry of the Miss All America Camp Beauty Pageant. Audiences will be introduced to many a queen, including the legendary Crystal LaBeija, founder of The House of La Beija, and the contest’s Mistress of Ceremonies, Flawless Sabrina. In between rehearsing and performing, the contestants discuss relationships, drag, draft boards, race, class, sexual and gender identity, and creating space for elegance, art, and community. This glamourous time capsule is perfect viewing for the New Years parties we will not be having this year!

    Where to watch: Netflix


    When this film premiered in 2016, it was considered a phenomenon for the way it was shot (entirely on an Iphone), but it’s legacy also represents a milestone moment for trans representation on screen. The film stars Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in their breakout roles as Sin-Dee and Alexandra, and their Academy Award campaigns for best actress were the first ever in the history of the awards for trans actors playing trans characters. They also played critical roles informing the work behind the camera, knowing that films about Black women, trans women and sex workers continue misrepresent what are complex and dynamic stories of resilience, resourcefulness and humanity.  In the four years since Tangerine came out, trans representation behind and in front of the camera has only grown. And though it’s set during the holiday season, Tangerine is really a Christmas film because at its heart it is about family, the kind of family that Black trans women and sex workers create despite the ways in which the world maintains brutal repression on thier lives and bodies.

    Where to watch: Rent on Google Play, Youtube

    Happiest Season

    What to say about this film that hasn’t already been subject to a truly deep dive analysis on every queer women’s wesbite on the internet? Clea Duvall’s return to film has prompted quite the passionate shipping of Aubrey Plaza and Kristen Stewart, and spawned a million memes, but more importantly, it’s given many queer women the holiday rom-com they’ve been waiting for.

    Where to watch: Prime

    Mucho Mucho Amor

    This 2020 documentary is dedicated to the life of Latinx astrology icon Walter Mercado, who brought insight, comfort, laughter and high fashion into the lives of millions. Though not openly queer, Mercado’s style and gender-bent presentation was a light and inspiration to many Latinx folks throughout the world longing to see themselves represented in public. His kindness, opulence and charisma shine through in the film, an ode to a man who brought hope to many, and paved the way for Latinx queer and trans folks craving self-determination, optimism and community. Mucho Mucho Amor is a much needed loving balm to the end of an extremely difficult year.

    Where to watch: Netflix


    Carol’s stylish, isolated melancholy might feel a bit on the nose during this winter quarantine, but it’s also one of the best queer films of the last decade. Directed by Todd Haynes, whose 1991 film Poison is considered a seminal work of New Queer Cinema, Carol beautifully explores the ways in which patriarchal gender expectations isolate queer women, and the lengths we will go to in order to feel and explore connection and identity. 

    Where to watch: Prime

  • Thirteen trans-focused films to watch in honour of Trans-Awareness Week and TDoR
    November 20, 2020

    This week was Trans-Awareness Week and ended with Trans Day of Remembrance. Though trans representation and storytelling has yet to be equitably represented on screen, recent years have seen a welcome and much needed boost of trans folks both on-screen and behind the camera. Here are a few of my favourites from the past few years that are available to watch on various online platforms. Trans stories are for every day and week of the year, and I hope this list will help you start your own to watch and love!

    In solidarity,

    Anoushka Ratnarajah, Artistic Director

    1. Disclosure

    This monumental documentary from Laverne Cox provides an eye-opening look at depictions of trans people in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender. With interviews from leading trans thinkers and creatives, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Mj Rodriguez, Jamie Clayton, and Chaz Bono, Disclosure is an expansion to 1995’s “The Celluloid Closet”, a moving challenge to both storytellers and audiences. 

    Where to watch: Netflix

    Disclosure | Sam Feder | USA | 2020 | 108 min | English

    2. Lingua Franca

    Screened as VQFF 2020’s Centrepiece Gala, Lingua Franca is both a unique take on a love-story, and the American Dream narrative, demonstrating the similarities between a trans and immigrant experiences by telling an intersectional story of a woman whose body carries the weight of both of those experiences. This film is a feat for trans director, writer and star Isabel Sandoval.

    Where to watch: Netflix

    Lingua Franca | Isabel Sandoval | USA, Philippines | 2019 | 95 min | Tagalog and English

    3. Alice Junior

    This totally delightful teen rom-com follows teenage Alice as she navigates her new harsh Catholic highschool and aches for her first kiss. Played by Brazilian YouTube star Anne Celestino Mota, Alice is fierce and unabashed in her insistent right to be who she is. This is the trans girl coming of age rom-com we all need!

    Where to watch: Netflix

    Alice Junior | Gil Baroni | Brazil | 2019 | 87 min | Portuguese

    4. XY Chelsea

    This documentary is a look at the life and career of Chelsea Manning, a trans woman soldier in the United States Army, who was sentenced to serve 35 years at an all-male military prison for leaking information about the country’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shot over two years and featuring exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes verité with Manning, the film picks up on the momentous day in May when she leaves prison and follows her through her journey of discovery, while also examining her place in the conversation on national security and the fight of the transgender community for rights and visibility.

    Where to watch: Crave

    XY Chelsea | Tim Travers Hawkins | United Kingdom | 2019 | 90 min | English

    5. Transhood

    Filmed in Kansas City, Missouri over the course of five years, “Transhood” focuses its lens on families and kids in America’s heartland. Intimate and heartfelt, this film gives space to complex and difficult conversations between parents and children, without ever losing focus on the strength and vulnerability of the young people to have to advocate for themselves beyond their years. During a time when trans rights have been consistently under attack, “Transhood” is a vital record of what it’s like to grow up trans in Trump-era America. This film is particularly a great watch for allied parents of trans children.

    Where to watch: Crave

    Transhood | Sharon Liese | USA | 2019 | 96 min | English

    6. Man Made

    This documentary takes audiences on a journey with four trans men (Rese, Dominic, Kennie and Mason) who are all striving to compete at Trans FitCon the only all-transgender bodybuilding competition in the world, held in Atlanta, Georgia. All four men are in different places in their journeys and lives, yet they face similar struggles as they create a masculinity that makes sense to each of them. This film is a honest and intimate look at body and gender politics, as well as a heartbreaking and uplifting story of relationships and self-love. All audiences will be able to connect to the stories shared here, as we see that these men are not really in the contest for the winning, but to be seen. 

    Where to watch: Prime

    Man Made | T Cooper | USA | 2018 | 93 min | English

    7. Call Her Ganda

    In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman was found dead in a motel room, killed by a US Marine stationed in the Philippines.  PJ Raval’s moving documentary follows three women intimately involved in Jennifer’s case; her mother Julita, who is relentless in her pursuit of justice for her daughter; American-Filipina trans journalist Meredith Talusan; and the family’s lawyer Virgie Suarez, who is faced with the daunting task of not only proving a murder case, but also taking on the Visiting Forces Agreement, which dictates that the U.S. government retain jurisdiction over military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines. This riveting film shows the ways in which American imperialism and the violence against women like Jennifer are inextricably linked, and raises complex questions about sovereignty, justice, and the right to self-determination.

    Where to watch: Prime

    Call Her Ganda | PJ Raval | Philippines | 2018 | 80 min | Tagalog and English

    8. Gun Hill Road

    This first feature film from Raashad Ernesto Green was a Sundance smash and successfully toured many film festivals throughout the world. Enrique is an ex-con who returns home to the Bronx after three years in prison to discover his wife estranged from him and his child exploring a gender transformation that will put the fragile bonds of their family to the test. Gun Hill Road is a story of transition, and how gender, sexuality, race, and culture intersect in one family, who struggle to be their true selves within the expectations of community and society. Starring Harmony Santana in her first role, this film is a tender testament to the love between parents and children.

    Where to watch: Itunes

    Gun Hill Road | Raashad Ernesto Green | USA | 2011 | 86 min | English

    9. Drunktown’s Finest

    Sydney Freeland’s 2015 premiere at Sundance with Drunktown’s Finest, garnered her numerous acclaim. The film follows three young Navajo peo ple as they strive to find connection,  validation and opportunity in an authentic and sensitive coming of age story. The late Carmen Moore shines in her first feature role as Felixia, and Freeland crafts her setting and characters from her own experiences as a trans indigneous woman, and creates a film that is as complex as it is empathetic. 

    Where to watch: Itunes

    Drunktown’s Finest | Sydney Freeland | USA | 2015 | 95 min | Navajo, English

    10. Free CeCe

    On June 5, 2011, Cece McDonald was brutally attacked. While defending her life, her attacker was killed. CeCe was incarcerated in a men’s prison in Minnesota. An international campaign to free CeCe garnered significant support from media and activists, including trans activists Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg and Laverne Cox. The documentary’s focus follows CeCe’s trail, but above all it shows the months after her release as she calls upon a circle of support from caring friends and family, and demonstrates her invaluable leadership as an activist and educator. Her leading voice resonates throughout the documentary and will surely remain in the minds of everyone who sees Free CeCe. This film was VQFF’s Centrepiece Gala in 2017.

    Where to watch: Vimeo

    Free CeCe | Jac Gares | 2016 | USA | 100 min | English

    11. Beauty

    Beauty explores the lives of five gender-creative kids, each uniquely engaged in shaping their own sense of what it means to be fully human. Whether it’s dealing with bullies, explaining themselves to their parents, or navigating the uncharted waters of relationships, Bex, Lili, Fox, Tru and Milo talk about their experiences and struggle to live in authenticity. This film screened at VQFF 2018 and won our Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film.

    Where to watch: NFBBeauty | Christina Willing | Canada | 2018 | 24 min | English and French

    12. Do I Have Boobs Now?

    In 2015, Victoria-based trans activist Courtney Demone launched the viral online campaign #DoIHaveBoobsNow, in which she posted topless photos of her transition on social media while undergoing hormone replacement therapy. One year later, Courtney revisits the global conversation she catalyzed on social media censorship policies and the sexualization of feminine bodies, and reflects on the impacts of being thrust into the critical spotlight as a visible trans activist and queer feminist. This local short film screened at VQFF 2017.

    Where to watch: NFB

    Do I Have Boobs Now | Joella Cabalu & Milena Salazar | Canada | 2017 | 7 min | English

    13. Niish Manidoowag (Two-Spirited Beings)

    Four youth travel Bebamikawe Trail on Wiikwemkoong Unceded First Nation Territory. Two of the youths are Two Spirited and discuss the confrontations and acceptance that they have encountered within their community and how it has affected their ability to experience and learn their culture. Long before the settlers arrived to Turtle Island, Two Spirited people were revered and treated with respect and equality. Niish Manidoowag speaks to these histories, identities and cultural roles as they are being reclaimed by generations of queer indigneous people.

    Mino Bimaadiziwin | Shane Mcsauby | Turtle Island | 2018 | 10 min | Anishinaabemowin & English