Out of 75 films from 16 countries screening at this year's Vancouver Queer Film Festival, one film stole the heart of the festival's director of programming-an Argentinean film called Mia.
"I like a crossover film where you're seeing both straight and queer characters side by side," said Amber Dawn. "Our community does not exist in a silo and neither should our film and storytelling, so I feel like Mia really shows the complicated panorama of human experience, if you will."
The family-friendly film focuses on a trans woman Alé who lives in a queer shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires and makes her living collecting recyclables. Alé's discovery of a diary-sized suicide note kicks off a string of coincidences that find her playing matriarch to a grieving family.
"It's a very beautiful, tender domestic drama," Dawn said of the film, which stars "stunning" theatre-turned-film transgendered actor Camila Sosa Villada.
The festival, which runs Aug. 16 to 26, turns the spotlight on gender queer films for the second year in a row.
"One of the things that I'm so pleased to see this year is more transgendered actors playing transgendered characters, so we've moved away from the Hilary Swank playing Boys Don't Cry role and the world is discovering that there's transgendered talent out there," Dawn said.
Director Javier Van de Couter will attend the film's Aug. 23 screenings.
German film Romeos opens Vancouver's second-largest film festival. It follows the character of Lukas who moves from a small town where he was raised as a girl to big city Cologne where he tries to pass as a man and falls for Fabio, the hottest guy in his new gay crowd.
Romeos runs with the plot of a romantic farce where you can sit back and simply wonder whether the two unlikely lovers are going to get together, but on a deeper level it explores Lukas being free to explore gender and gay desire, according to Dawn.
"But these new explorations, of course, come at some personal risk," she noted. "So you have the love story, but you also have the deeper, more political story."
The theme of the 24th annual Queer Film Festival is films for lovers and fighters. "It is an homage or celebration to both intimate and loving relationships within the queer community as well as major movements around human rights and equality," said Dawn.
The festival includes the Canadian premiere of Invisible Men about a man who flees Palestine to Tel Aviv, Israel's most queer-friendly city, where he must live as an "invisible man" because Israel strictly prohibits offering assistance to Palestinian illegal immigrants; Toshio Matsumoto's 1969 cult classic, Funeral Parade of Roses, the first film to explore Asian gay culture in Tokyo's queer underground; and a director spotlight on longtime Quebec lesbian filmmaker Jeanne Crepeau.
Hollywood comedy Dirty Girl closes the festival.
"I'm not known to select comedies," the festivals's director of programming for the past four years said wryly.
But Dawn and the 12-member volunteer programming committee voted unanimously to end the festival on a high note.
"It is an '80s road trip, high school underdog will come out loving themselves feel gooder," Dawn said.
The film takes high school "dirty girl" Danielle and gay outcast Clarke on a journey of self-discovery that's punctuated by '80s hits and performances by Dwight Yoakam and Milla Jovovich.
"[It's] a very comedic look at a gaystraight alliance of two best friends coming together to survive high school with a great deal of flair," Dawn said.
For more information, go to queerfilmfestival.ca.
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