The Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) has announced the complete lineup for its 35th anniversary. From August 10 to 20, 2023 audiences can catch 92 films from 27 countries, with 24 features, 68 shorts, 10 World Premieres, 10 North American/International Premieres and 31 Canadian Premieres among the selections. In addition to in-person and BC province-wide digital screenings, the Festival will feature performances by 2SLGBTQIA+ local artists, post-screening Q&As with filmmakers, industry workshops, and encore screenings of the festival favourites on August 20. 

Embracing the essence of solidarity within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, in a festival first, VQFF’s Opening Presentation: Stronger Together will feature six remarkable short films celebrating the community’s rich and multifaceted experiences. Comprised of five Canadian Premieres and the winner of Sundance’s 2023 Best Short Film Award, the program includes director Doug Tompos’ DOTTING THE “I” (USA), which sees a modern-day Cyrano and a mid-life cynic embark on a profound exploration of lost love; Sundance Best Short Film Award winner THRIVING: A DISSOCIATED REVERIE (Canada), a comedy inspired by the lived experience of Black, non-binary, disabled artist and former sex worker Kitoko Mai; and Grace Godvin’s AC UNIT (USA), in which a Jewish queer man attempts to help their stylish trans femme friend install an air conditioner. 

The Opening Presentation also includes director Twiggy Pucci Garçon’s documentary short MNM (USA), which follows two chosen siblings making their runway ballroom debut; Joanne Mony Park’s GROCERY LIST (USA) sees issues big and small surface when a queer couple just wants to go grocery shopping; and director Abel Rubinstein’s MARS (United Kingdom), a frank, fearless, and funny love song to trans youth created by award-winning music artist, Yungblud. Following the films, the Vancouver Playhouse will host the first party of the festival with DJs, performers, a dance floor and more – which will be FREE to attend with tickets to the Opening Presentation screening.  

VQFF is thrilled to announce that this year’s Closing Presentation will be the British Columbia Premiere of director Ian Gabriel’s RUNS IN THE FAMILY (South Africa). A love letter to trans and drag communities, it follows a father, Varun, and his son River, a trans drag performer, as they attempt a road trip across South Africa to break River’s estranged mother out of rehab. The film is a real-life family collaboration by Ian Gabriel and his son Gabe, who wrote and stars in the film. The Closing Night Party will be hosted at the Vancouver Playhouse post-screening, FREE to those with tickets to the Closing Presentation.

The 2023 Centrepiece Presentation will be the Canadian Premiere of director Sharon “Rocky” Roggio’s astonishing documentary 1946: THE MISTRANSLATION THAT SHIFTED CULTURE (USA), which won the 2022 Audience Award at DOC NYC and quickly became the most-viewed film in the festival’s history. With new revelations that cast significant doubt on any biblical basis for queer and trans prejudice, Roggio’s fascinating film traces the origins of the Christian anti-gay movement back to 1946, when a dangerous mistranslation resulted in the first appearance of the word “homosexual” in the Bible. 

Notable titles in the features lineup include the British Columbia Premieres of the crowd-pleasing BIG BOYS (USA), director Corey Sherman’s witty and warm-hearted coming-of-age tale; director Trevor Anderson’s joy-filled BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND (Canada) that follows a nonbinary newcomer at school who forms an unexpected friendship with the school bully; director Olivier Peyon’s beautiful film LIE WITH ME (ARRÊTE AVEC TES MENSONGES) (France) that captures central themes of love and enduring heartache, IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL (USA), director Alexandria Bombach’s documentary on pioneering queer icons and tireless political activists, the Indigo Girls, and Cláudia Varejão’s stunning WOLF AND DOG (LOBO E CÃO) (Portugal/France) which skillfully converts intolerance into a nurturing sense of community spirit.

Other festival feature highlights include the British Columbia Premiere of Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s striking debut 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES (Spain), set throughout one pivotal summer, as an eight-year-old transgender girl explores her identity alongside the women of her family in the Basque Country; the International Premieres of THE MATTACHINE FAMILY (USA), director Andrew Vallentine’s look at the complexities of queer parenthood starring Nico Tortorella, Juan Pablo Di Pace and Emily Hampshire; THREE HEADED BEAST (USA), directed by Fernando Andrés and Tyler Rugh, a rare window into the life of a bisexual couple in an open relationship as they navigate how to include a third; and the Canadian Premiere of CLASHING DIFFERENCES (Germany), directed by Merle Grimme, a punchy, darkly funny, and caustically subversive film that looks candidly at issues including tokenism and colourism.

The intergenerational film project Troublemakers returns to the big screen for its seventh year. Reel Youth, Out On Screen and LOVE Intersections will present five new films by youth filmmakers documenting the lives of local lesbian, gay, queer, trans and nonbinary community members who inspire through art and advocacy. Preceding Troublemakers, the award-winning Out In Schools program, will present an abridged version of their Beyond Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) presentation. Exploring the importance and impact of positive 2SLGBTQIA+ representation, the presentation will showcase two new films in the Out In Schools film catalogue.

Curated Shorts Programs will include a melody of episodic pilots in Fresh Starts; a return of the homegrown talent showcase The Coast is Queer; a spine-tingling journey of seductive and thrilling tales in Midnight Foreplay; and Slay 4 Me, which explores the ballroom and drag communities, featuring live performances and a talk on queer performance practices following the films. The full list of Shorts Programs can be found here

The 2023 Festival programme was curated by VQFF Artistic Director Charlie Hidalgo; Festival Programmers Sarah-Tai Black and Rico Johnson-Sinclair; 2023 VQFF Programming Disruptor Fellowship recipients Eva Grant, Jasmine “Audder” Monton, and Romi Kim, made possible through the generous support of Telefilm Canada, Warner Bros Discovery Access Canada and The British Columbia Arts Council; and Guest Programmer Simone Ling.

For ticketing details, including sliding scale pricing beginning at just $5, the complete Festival lineup, screening dates and times, please visit

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.