The Vancouver Queer Film Festival (August 15-25) kicked off with a fabulously diverse lineup of features, documentaries and shorts from around the world…and plenty of parties and workshops. Here are some highlights and recommendations:
Craig William Macneill’s somber chamber piece Lizzie reimagines the infamous Lizzie Borden massacre with a heaping dose of repressed Sapphic desire. Chloe Sevigny headlines as the accused murderess, with Kristen Stewart co-starring as Bridget Sullivan, an Irish immigrant maid in the Borden household. Slow, quiet, and brooding, the film never quite takes off, but remains highly watchable due to the creepy atmosphere and star power onscreen. The awkwardly titled but wonderful Boys (Jonas) stars French It-Boy Félix Maritaud (120 BPM, Sauvage) as a recently-dumped gay man struggling to make sense of a violent event that occurred nearly twenty years ago. Unfolding over two separate timelines, director Christophe Charrier thoughtfully examines the devastating impact that lingering trauma can have, while Maritaud turns in yet another mesmerizing performance. In March, U.S. based queer Brazilian refugee Flavio Alves’ tremendous debut feature The Garden Left Behind took home the Audience Award in the Vision program at SXSW. Newcomer Carlie Guevara turns in a fresh and confident performance as Tina, a young, Mexican trans woman living with her grandmother in NYC. Joanne Mony Park’s impressive debut Fish Bones stars former model Joony Kim as Hana, a college student torn between her Korean family’s traditional values and a newfound attraction to a local musician. Moody and a little rough around the edges, it showcases a new director’s distinct vision and potential, and has an awesome soundtrack to boot. Featuring an all-queer Fillipinx cast, Samantha Lee’s endearingly earnest Billie & Emma follows a sophisticated Manila teenager forced to enroll in a small-town Catholic school after her parent’s discover she’s gay. Once there, a sweet romance blossoms with a popular girl harboring an even bigger secret of her own, and much drama ensues as the two are forced to confront their peers and families.
Stirring, powerful and unmissable, Phillip Pike’s Our Dance of Revolution takes a look at the past, present and future of Toronto’s black queer activist community. Starting with the Black Lives Matter sit-in at the 2016 Pride parade and working backwards, Pike chronicles generations of organizers from a household collective that started in the early 80s, as well as the invaluable work of Black CAP, an organization focused on reducing the spread of HIV in black communities. Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s delightful and inspiring Nothing to Lose follows the fat, queer and fabulous cast of Force Majeure’s award-winning production of the same name as they prepare for a sold-out show at Sydney Festival 2015. Filmed over three years and filled with gorgeous black & white cinematography, Tristan Aitchinson’s moving Sidney + Friends introduces Sidney, an intersex queer Nairobi man who finds camaraderie within a group of other trans and intersex Kenyans. From Brazil, Daniel Nolasco’s sleazy and stylish Mr. Leather dives into Sāo Paulo’s fetish scene and follows five hopefuls looking to snatch the crown in the country’s second annual leather competition. Another film centered around a contest, Adrian Russell Wills’ Black Divaz, tells the stories of the courageous queens competing in the inaugural Miss First Nation pageant, while asking important questions about representation and how we treat women of color and other marginalized participants in the drag scene.
For the full lineup, click here.