With the mandate of “illuminating queer lives through film,” Out on Screen’s Vancouver Queer Film Festival plans to celebrate its 27th year of building inclusive space in the city. From August 13 to 23, thousands will gather in Vancouver to experience the power of film and community at the largest queer arts event in western Canada and the second-largest film festival in Vancouver.
Showcasing an array of performances, workshops, panels, and parties, the 11-day festival will feature over 80 films from 20 countries, with themes ranging from transgender trailblazers to spectacular queer con artists. The festival will take place at various theatres, including the Vancouver Playhouse, Cineplex Odeon International Village, and SFU Woodward’s.
Since its inception in 1988, the festival has been a key player in the expansion of inclusive community in Vancouver. Not only were they the first to adopt the inclusive term ‘queer,’ but they have constantly paved the way in the arts community through their approach to film and social change.
Shana Myara, Director of Festival Programming, noted that over time, change is inflected in the stories, and that the festival producers “are always trying to be mindful of whose stories are still not being told.” She also noted that much of the power of the festival is the act of bringing people into common spaces that might not exist otherwise. As she stressed, “it sounds really simple, but that’s community development.”
When asked about the power of film as a medium for social development, Myara said, “film is unique, enticing, and spiritual. It’s got a magic unto itself to transform the viewer.”
The festival can be described as respective and inclusive, but also like a giant house party with a heavy dose of energy and fun. This year, the festival draws upon unique inspiration from Peter Greenaway’s latest film, Eisenstein in Guanajuato, and its theme of personal revolutions.
In our current society, we approach the world as consumers. However, art can unite us in ways that open our minds to questions that challenge the status quo. “Bringing people together through art is community development, but it is also transformative, especially in big cities,” explained Myara.
In addition to hosting an 11-day event every August, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival community knows that its real value is acting as a catalyst for something greater. As Myara stressed, “We don’t pretend to have all the answers — that is where many of our community members take over. What we do know is that we are here to illuminate. What we want is for our work to transcend our immediate communities and bring us together into action.”