What began as a small group of queer folk screening a couple of films on a bed sheet in 1989 has become one of the most progressive LGBTQ2+ film festivals in the world and a pillar of youth and community support. And not-so-surprisingly, it’s in the picturesque Canadian city of Vancouver.
Out On Screen is the group that evolved from that first event, and who runs the Vancouver Queer Film Festival today. Their commitment to youth and intersectional experiences is a key focus of their mandate, a point that makes the festival uniquely inviting not only to adults, but to families as well.
“One of our big priorities is that youth see themselves reflected in complex and beautiful ways,”says Stephanie Goodwin, executive director of Out On Screen. She continues, “in order to help families and youth all enjoy the festival we get all the films rated, and more than half of them are often rated as appropriate for youth.”
No stranger to advocacy work, Goodwin came to Out On Screen from her role as the BC director of Greenpeace Canada, a Vancouver-founded global organization dedicated to protecting the environment and promoting peace. Out On Screen’s commitment to “illuminating, celebrating, and advancing queer lives” poses a similar mandate of cooperation and peace, especiallywhen you look at their educational program, Out In Schools.
Out In Schools works year-round to support communities and make space for LGBTQ2+youth to thrive. This educational programming goes into schools by request and educates students about sexuality and gender in an open and inclusive way. They have been invited to schools as far away as New York City to help kids learn about themselves and about appreciating and understanding each other. For families who would like to surround their young adults and children in an environment of positivity and celebration of intersectional experiences, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival is the place to go.
Aside from the films themselves, which portray experiences from people ofmany cultures, identities and backgrounds, there are events like the Chosen Family Picnic. The picnic is an event for younger children and families of any age to interact with and meet new friends through film and storytelling.
Last year, queer kids’ lit authors Vivek Shraya (The Boy and the Bindi), Monique Gray Smith (My Heart Fills with Happiness—illustrated by Cree, Metis illustrator Julie Flett) and Alan Woo (Maggie’s Chopsticks) read from their books while the pages appeared on screen.This year Out On Screen turns 30 years old, and would like to invite everyone to Vancouver to celebrate.
“The Queer Film Festival offers visitors to Vancouver the opportunity to engage in a compelling arts and culture event that is also very grassroots,” says Goodwin, “it’s the kind of festival where people meet in the line-ups to a film and become life-long friends.”
Last modified: March 13, 2018