With the projectors for the 21st Vancouver Queer Film Festival now dark and the seats cool after 10 days of queer films Aug 13-23, the festival has announced this year'
s winning films.
This year's top prize, the $1,500 Audience Favourite Award for Best Feature, went to Shamim Sarif for I Can't Think Straight.
It's the tale of a British Indian girl dating a British guy and a headstrong Christian Palestinian in the midst of planning her wedding day. When the two women meet by chance and become fast "friends," their lives are turned upside down. They find themselves questioning whether their undeniable attraction can co-exist with their traditions and conventions.
Sarif says that she wants to explore "the fact that often we need to face up to certain aspects of ourselves and our beliefs in order to find true love."
The film also took Audience Choice for Best Feature Film at the 2009 Melbourne Queer Film Festival in Australia.
The $750 Hot Pink Shorts Award for best short film went to The Portside by award-winning Vancouver director Aerlyn Weissman and poet Daphne Marlatt.
The film is a historical drama that relives Vancouver's lesbian scene of the 1970s. Commissioned by the Queer History Project, The Portside is the third film in a series of creative collaborations that honours Vancouver's queer histories.
Nine years ago, the Film Classification Board tried to prevent Weissman's documentary, Little Sister's vs Big Brother from being screened at the 14th installment of the queer film festival in 2002, sparking outcry from the queer community. The film charted the bookstore's two-decade battle against Canada Customs book seizures.
Naoko-San by local filmmaker Rika Moorhouse won the Gerry Brunet Memorial Award ($1500), a juried award honouring the best new short work by a BC artist. In Naoko-San, Moorhouse explores the blurred narrative of her mother's immigration story.
The Best International Feature ($500), a new festival award, was split between City of Borders and Soundless Wind Chime.
City of Borders, a co-production between Israel, Palestine and the US by Yun Suh, takes filmgoers into the heart of Jerusalem where a queer bar called Shushan stands as an unexpected symbol of unity. It portrays this vibrant underground sanctuary where people of opposing nationalities, religious affiliations and sexual orientations gather and create community under one roof.
Kit Hun's Soundless Wind Chime (China and Switzerland) is a sophisticatedly fashioned Honk Kong love story of two men who meet after one of their lovers dies in an accident. Told through a series of flashbacks and fragments, this poetic drama avows that love is as much about memory as it is present-day reality.
Attendance at the festival has continued to increase over the years.
"We're still awaiting a final attendance tally but overall feel really positive by the overwhelming level of engagement by our audience," says festival executive director Drew Dennis.