The Vancouver Queer Film Festival launched its 19th year to hearty applause at the Empire Granville 7 theatre, Aug 16.
There was hardly an empty seat in the house as audience members gathered to watch The Bubble, a powerful film about love across boundaries and the struggles of an Israeli and a Palestinian man to be together against a backdrop of war and checkpoints in and around Tel Aviv.
The Opening Gala film was followed by a party at Celebrities, where theatregoers and film fest fans, community leaders, actors, local celebrities and members of the wider community converged.
Tania Paz believes the benefits of the festival are not limited to the films themselves. “These issues are important to me,” she says. “If it wasn’t for organizations like Out on Screen, there probably wouldn’t be the kind of awareness we have in the schools.”
Out on Screen not only produces the annual queer film festival —which this year featured 49 films, roving performance art and a variety of after-parties —but runs the Out in Schools program bringing queer films into high schools. This year also marked the launch of the organization’s Queer History Project, which aims to capture and record local queer history.
“Let’s face it, there’s a lot of people in our community that if we don’t capture their stories now they’re not always going to be with us,” Out on Screen executive director Drew Dennis told Xtra West last issue. “We’re not in the history books, so [it’s the part] we can play to help bring our history along.”
The Queer History Project’s first installment, the Ivan Coyote/Veda Hille documentary The Love that Won’t Shut Up, played to a packed house on Aug 24.
Although final numbers are not yet in, Dennis estimates that attendance was up at this year’s fest. “There were more screenings sold out in advance than ever before,” Dennis explains. “I think there is that thirst among our community to see our stories on the big screen.”
The VanCity Enviro Visa People’s Choice Award for Best Feature went to Jonah Markovitz for his film Shelter, the story of a young gay surfer’s coming of age. The Gerry Brunet Memorial Award, which recognizes the best short film by a British Columbian director, went to Matthew Long for his film Trans Neptune.