Coming out on a big screen near you


Like the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community itself, the Queer Film Festival offers something for everyone in its programming line up this year.

Running August 12-22 at venues around town, more than 90 films of all sorts will be out and proudly telling the stories of queer life, from here, there and everywhere. Plus, there will be plenty of opportunities to talk about those stories, and maybe create some new ones, at post-screening forums, workshops and after parties.

Amber Dawn is the director of programming for the Queer Film Festival as well as a short filmmaker herself. She started working for the festival a couple of years ago because she has a passion for the community and showing art on screen.

“We’re the second largest film festival in the city,” Dawn said, adding it’s also Vancouver’s second longest continuously-running festival. It’s also the largest queer arts event in Western Canada.  “It appeals to diverse, intellectual tastes?comedies, documentaries, dramas,” she said, with light, fun date-night shows to tearjerker films to community discussions on documentaries.

Personally, Dawn said, one of her favourites is “From Coast to Coast is Queer” which is a series of short films, new to the festival this year, from across the country exploring queer Canadiana.  One of the films, “Au Pays Des Esprit” by Rémy Huberdeau of Montreal, was subtitled in English especially so it could be entered into the festival. Its sister program, “The Coast is Queer,” is a line-up of locally made short films.

“They’re a harder sell for movie goers,” said Dawn about short films. “For general audiences, the feature film is dominant, it’s what they know.” But, she said, you don’t see these shorts anywhere but in the theatre. They are never released on DVD and you can’t take them home. “They are a theatre experience which you can only see in a festival. Some make you cry, others are light fun, and some push social taboos. It’s an eclectic lineup.”

Another series of films, entitled “First Voices”, shines the spotlight on contemporary aboriginal two-spirit life.

“We’re hungry for other voices not represented in the mainstream media,” said Dawn, adding they are also important to show within the Canadian context.  “There’s no other opportunity to see the.” As well, Hollywood films about First Nations aren’t directed by Aboriginals themselves. “It’s different when someone who has the life experience makes it,” she said. Ranging from experimental to mini-documentaries, these films have all been created by Aboriginal queer filmmakers with Aboriginal cast and crew.

The festival’s queer history project features other seldom-told stories. It commissioned a number of mid-career and seasoned artists, like Joe Average, Debora O and David C. Jones, to create “Riffs on  the Theme of Activism,” a series which considers the question of activism and what it means to the local community.

“Queer history is a an undocumented history,” said Dawn. “You can’t open a textbook and read about it.”

The documentary film “Gayblevision” chronicles Vancouver’s first 100 per cent gay and lesbian cable access television show from the 1980s which, featured news, education, culture, arts, and sketch comedy.  Mary Anne McEwen, the last living member of its production collective, will be at the screening and lead a discussion about the show and queer life.

Whatever the genre, Dawn said, viewers will find outstanding, brave, transgressive, and edgy film at this year’s festival.

See www.queerfilmfestival.ca for all the details on times, tickets and parties.

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About Kerry Hall

Journalist
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