Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist! Literary Events at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival

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Amber Dawn

Poetry is my first love, and poetry is my forever love. Though, it’s no secret that I am polyamorous with creative genres. I’ve danced burlesque. I’ve directed low-budget short films. Once I performed as a nearly-naked human art installation at the Vancouver Art Gallery. What I really desire is story. I love all artworks—visual, literary, media or performative—that tell a personal story.

This love of story has brought me and my co-Artistic Director, Anoushka Ratnarajah, to the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. This year’s Festival theme is “Love! Resist! Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist,” and is very much an eleven-day celebration of queer and trans personal and community stories. There are over sixty-five films from seventeen different countries, workshops, parties, and panels. There’s also poetry. Yes, poetry, at a film festival. I told you poetry is my first love.

Here is a round-up of literary events you’ll find at the 29th Annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival:

Sunday | Aug 13 | 1:30 pm | The Waterfront Theatre
Gentlemen of the Shade by Jen Sookfong Lee: Book Launch and Film Viewing Commentary

Gus Van Sant’s 1991 indie darling film My Own Private Idaho perplexed and provoked, inspiring a new ethos for a new decade. This film was pivotal for me, and I couldn’t think of a better author to write about it than novelist and journalist Jen Sookfong Lee. In her newest book, Gentlemen of the Shade, author Jen Sookfong Lee examines how the film was a coming-of-age for a generation of young people who would embrace the alternative and bring their outsider perspectives to sustainability, technology, gender constructs, and social responsibility.

In this media-interactive book launch, Jen Sookfong Lee will look at film clips, media responses, and her own unique exploration of Van Sant’s cult classic.

Sunday | Aug 13 | 3:30 pm | The Waterfront Theatre
Chosen Family Story Hour

Bring the kids, bring your inner kid, bring anyone who loves a heartfelt story—it’s story hour! Hear three prominent queer kid’s lit authors—Monique Grey Smith, Alan Woo, and Vivek Shraya—read while, page-by-page, their books appear on the big screen.

Saturday | Aug 19 | 4:00 pm | Vancouver Public Library nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona Branch
how to get over Book Launch and Writing Workshop

Brooklyn-based t’ai freedom ford is touring her first poetry collection book, how to get over. Join for a matinee reading at the new VPL nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona Branch. how to get over is part instruction manual, part prayer, part testimony, and speaks to bullying, blackness, whiteness and gentrification, and even pop culture icons like Chaka Khan and Nicky Minaj.

Bring your pens and favourite notebook! The readings will be followed by a participatory thirty-minute writing workshop led by Jillian Christmas. Come explore your own inner poet in a queer-driven creative space.

It’s pretty much a poly-creative dream come true: literary events in the day and film at night!

The Festival runs August 10 – 20. Find out more about the Vancouver Queer Film Festival here, and all special event listings (including links to buying tickets), here

Vancouver Queer Film Festival | @queerfilmfest |

Amber Dawn is the co-Artistic Director of the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, and the author of three books.

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