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2020 VQFF Artistic Statement

Dear reader, dear viewer, welcome to VQFF 2020.

When this year began, before the pandemic changed our landscape in unimagined ways, I had already decided on our theme, Still Here. The films that I was viewing all explored in one way or another, transformation, resilience and survival. These themes continued to reverberate through all the content I was seeing; in films from Turtle Island, Switzerland, India, Vietnam and Georgia; in documentaries, narratives and experimental work. I could feel how deeply queer filmmakers were determined to depict our lives as worth living, worth fighting for, worth celebrating, worth mourning — that we are worthy of seeing and being seen, because we are necessary, beautiful and complex. And that is you will see at this year’s VQFF.

Like so many other arts organizations, Out On Screen had to adapt incredibly quickly in ways we could not have anticipated. Within a few months, we had to learn how to digitize our programs, and come to terms with the loss of in-person collective and communal experiences. For me, it has become even more urgent and necessary to provide the best and most intersectional platform I possibly can for our incredible filmmakers, and for you, dear audience. Especially in this incredibly difficult and heartbreaking time, when despair and grief often feel too close, particularly for those of us who are the most marginalized in our communities.

Our desires, our bodies, our love, our self expression were once considered criminal — for many of us, they still are. We cannot forget that our rights and comforts as queer people (if we are privileged enough to have them) were born from a revolutionary spirit, led by trans women of colour, sex workers, and other radical advocates and survivors. It will continue to be my curatorial ethic, and my ongoing learning, to combat the ways in which these and other stories of survival and resistance are ignored, tokenized or diminished. VQFF 2020 features programming from queer filmmakers and artists whose work shows the many ways we continue to fight for the fullness of our lives, for what and who we love, and our shared futures.

Our survival is an inevitable miracle. Nothing can stop us from taking root; we will always reach for the light and sky.

We are still here.

Anoushka Ratnarajah