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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

All photos courtesy of Vancouver Queer Film Festival

10 Queer Films From VQFF 2023 That You Need To Add To Your Must-Watch List

VQFF celebrates its 35th anniversary with over 90 2SLGBTQIA+ films – here are the highlights…

The Vancouver Queer Film Festival is bringing 92 films from 27 countries to celebrate its 35th anniversary showcasing exclusively 2SLGBTQIA+ storytellers. In addition to the films, many of this year’s screening also features drag and queer artist performances, so there’s tons of 2SLGBTQIA+ talent headed to VanCity between August 10 and 20, 2023. And with a sliding scale pricing beginning at just $5, the festival is even more accessible.

Here are 10 of the must-see films to watch if you’re headed to the festival.

ABOVE: Thriving: A Dissociated Reverie 

Opening Night Presentation: Stronger Together Shorts Program
This opening night shorts series showcases the indomitable spirit of queerness, celebrates our collective resilience, and illuminates the power of our unity. The program features stories from directors like Canada’s Nicole Bazuin’s Thriving: A Dissociated Reverie about a Black nonbinary disabled artist and former sex worker diagnosed with a dissociative identity disorder, and the UK’s Abel Rubinstein’s Mars starring Yasmin Finney of the hit show Heartstopper.

1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture (US)
Director: Sharon “Rocky” Roggio
This Centrepiece documentary is a fascinating etymological excavation traces the origins of the Christian anti-gay movement back to 1946, when a damaging mistranslation resulted in the first appearance of the word “homosexual” in the Bible, thus providing a “sacred weapon” for the religious right to use against gay people. Significantly, while critical of religious dogma, this documentary does not oppose Christianity.

ABOVE: Three Tidy Tigers Tied A Tie Tighter

Three Tidy Tigers Tied A Tie Tighter (Brazil)
Director: Gustavo Vinagre
Winner of the Teddy Award for Best LGBTQIA+ Film at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, this wildly inventive comic curio takes place in São Paulo during the fourth wave of a pandemic that atrophies memory. Three young queer friends drift through the chaos of the city, sharing stories, memories, and make-up tips as they attempt to make sense of their current reality.

ABOVE: Clashing Differences

Clashing Differences (Germany)
Director: Merle Grimme
The all-white board of the House of Womxn has been told to diversify, or they can’t attend a prestigious conference. Reluctantly, they task a junior member, who believes that being from East Germany makes her a minority, with collecting suitable candidates because she has “connections to those communities”. Punchy, darkly funny, and caustically subversive, this film takes a candid look at issues including tokenism and colourism.

ABOVE: I Love You More

I Love You More (Kosovo and Albania)
Director: Erblin Nushi
This Kosovo/Albanian film follows the story of a reserved teenager Ben has two dreams: to escape the picturesque yet stifling Kosovar town in which he was raised and to finally be united with Leo, his long-term boyfriend who he has been dating online for a year but has yet to meet in person. With Leo set to visit in a month, Ben learns of an exciting and immediate opportunity to travel overseas, leaving him to make an almost impossible decision.

ABOVE: 20,000 Species of Bees

20,000 Species of Bees (Spain)
Director: Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren
This Spanish feature follows an eight-year-old struggles with the fact that people keep addressing her in confusing ways. During a summer in the Basque Country among the beehives, she explores her gender identity alongside the women of her family, who reflect on their own lives and desires. Star Sofía Otero became the youngest person to win the Silver Berlin Bear for Best Leading Performance at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival for this role.

ABOVE: Queendom

Queendom (France)
Director: Agniia Galdanova
This documentary tells the story of Gena, a 21-year-old trans performance artist hailing from a small town in the far east side of Russia, uses fashion as a form of political protest, marching the streets of Moscow in fantastic homemade creations as if in their own personal gallery space. Using drag activism as a means of challenging modern beauty standards as well as protesting the treatment of LGBTQIA+ people in Russia under Putin’s profoundly conservative rule, Gena receives attention wherever they go.


The Coast Is Queer Shorts Program
This shorts program features all Canadian talent is a series of shorts like King Louie Palomo’s Stay starring Canada’s Drag Race’s Kendall Gender, Lauren Marsden’s& Tabanca where genderqueer Marlinn misses Carnival season back home in Trinidad—until they discover the power of masquerade within, and Romi Kim’s E.S.S. Sceneswhich portray the vibrant and monstrous worlds of Vancouver’s drag scene.

ABOVE: The Mattachine Family

The Mattachine Family (US)
Director: Andy Vallentine
Giving an insight into the complexities of queer parenthood, The Mattachine Family tells the story of Thomas (Nico Tortorella) and Oscar (Juan Pablo Di Pace) who foster Arthur. A year after bringing Arthur into their lives, he is sent back to live with his biological mother, and the grieving couple must reconcile what family means to them with the help of friends (Emily Hampshire and Jake Choi).

ABOVE: Runs In The Family

Runs In The Family (South Africa)
Director: Ian Gabriel
Closing the festival, this South African film follows Varun, a former con artist, and his trans drag performer son River embark on a road trip across South Africa to break River’s estranged mother out of rehab. Taking on a not so easy to come by feel-good family story in queer cinema, Runs In The Family features a beautiful father-son relationship at its core, which is mirrored by the real-life family collaboration of director Ian Gabriel and his son Gabe who is the writer and star of the film.

The Vancouver Queer Film Festival runs from August 10 and 20, 2023. For more programme and ticket information visit

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