Vancouver Queer Film Festival Challenges Festivalgoers to Take a Risk

Monday 12th, August 2019 / 08:00
By Maggie McPhee

VQFF artistic director Anoushka Ratnarajah

Vancouver’s 31st annual Queer Film Festival (VQFF) theme is See For Yourself, and festivalgoers are invited to give themselves over to the beauty and complexity of queer film.
BeatRoute spoke with Artistic Director Anoushka Ratnarajah about her hopes for the festival, having curated it for the first time on her own after two fruitful years with co-director Amber Dawn.

“I want to encourage audience members to engage with programming they wouldn’t necessarily engage with at first glance,” Ratnaraj says. “To take a risk and see something challenging.”
The 11-day extravaganza, which includes movies, multidisciplinary performance art, an exhibition, and workshops expands the definition of a film festival and challenges audiences with stories often pushed to the periphery.

“A lot of the films we screen you won’t see anywhere else in Vancouver,” Ratnarajah says.

VQFF is one of the city’s largest and longest running film festivals. Ratnarajah points to this as evidence for a “thirst for queer, trans, and two-spirit film, not only from within our queer communities but from people who are just interested in seeing film and engaging with stories that are not necessarily representative of their own individual experience.”

VQFF stands as a bastion for misrepresented or underrepresented voices, bodies, experiences and perspectives. “There are a ton of queer people who live in this city,” Ratnarajah says. “It’s important for us to be able to go to a film and feel seen.”

Beyond building a sanctuary for and celebration of queer experiences, the festival strives to foster positive relations with the Musquam, Salaiwatooth and Squamish Nations in an attempt to decolonize the screen. This year, Metis filmmaker Justin Ducharme has put together an indigenous spotlight, Projecting Brilliance: A Two-Spirit Showcase; a shorts program, All Our Relations: Explorations of Indigiqueer Kinship; an evening of queer indigenous performance with Anthony Hudson and Beric Manywounds; and a new and retrospective short term exhibit in collaboration with the artist Zachary Longboy, Running Running Trees Go By.

VQFF offers a chance for all members of the Vancouver community and beyond to come together in an exaltation of local and global artists at the forefront of queer, trans and two-spirit filmmaking.

Vancouver Queer Film Festival runs August 15 to 25, 2019. To learn more visit