British Columbia

Vancouver Queer Film Festival bringing dozens of LGBTQ stories to life on screen this summer

With more than 90 films from 20 countries, the festival shines a spotlight on queer artistic and activist histories and subcultures. The even runs Aug. 12 to 22 and films will be made available for streaming online.

The annual event has moved online with films streaming Aug. 12 to 22

From Aug. 12 to 22, more than than 90 films from 20 countries will be made available to British Columbians during the 33rd annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival. (Shutterstock)

The Vancouver Queer Film Festival has brought LGBTQ stories to life on the big screen for more than three decades and while the screens may be a bit smaller this year, there are still plenty of feature-length and short films for audiences to enjoy.

The festival marks its 33rd year this summer, and, due to COVID-19 concerns, most screenings and workshops have been moved online. From Aug. 12 to 22, British Columbians will be able to stream festival content, including more than than 90 films from 20 countries from the comfort of home, in a video-on-demand format.

Curated by artistic director Anoushka Ratnarajah and festival programmer Nya Lewis, the theme of this year's festival is "longing," and many films touch upon the most urgent social and political issues affecting queer, trans and two-spirit people around the world, as well as universal themes of love, loss, and legacy.

"We have such a plethora of stories out there. I think we forget that there's still so many that are yet untold and so many that still need to come into the light," said Ratnarajah, speaking to host Stephen Quinn of CBC's The Early Edition.

Ratnarajah, who has been at the helm of the festival for five years, said when selecting this year's programming, she thought a lot about what films would have meant a lot to her growing up as a queer person of mixed race.

The idea of creating something that a younger version of themselves would appreciate is a sentiment shared by Vancouver director Shana Myara, whose feature documentary Well Rounded will be available for screening Aug. 19 to 21.

Watch the trailer for Well Rounded. Warning: there is some profanity in the clip.

The film features Mi'kmaw comedian and broadcaster Candy Palmater, multidisciplinary performer Ivory, and local queers including style icon Lydia Okello and comedian Joanne Tsung.

It explores the personal impact of fatphobia with scientific facts from Dr. Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist working specifically with the causes and impacts of weight stigma and includes socio-political context provided by historian Jenny Ellison.

"I kind of tried to make the film that I wish I had been able to see when I was a child and it starts off from this kind of radical premise of what if we stopped hating our larger bodies and were happy with them?" said Myara, also speaking on The Early Edition.

Myara doesn't just rely on health experts and historians to explore body shame — she also uses humour.

"I hope it's a very funny film and ends up feeling like you hung out with some really impressive friends for the day who help you shed some of the weight of stigma," said the director.

To view Well Rounded and other participating films, visit

The festival is Vancouver's second largest film festival and the largest queer arts event in Western Canada. 

With files from The Early Edition