Ladner woman helping shine light on queer film

The 2019 Vancouver Queer Film Festival will feature four spotlights, more than 50 events and over 100 films for people to enjoy. 

Ladner’s Anoushka Ratnarajah is the first time solo artistic director for Out On Screen, which produces the festival that runs from Aug. 15 to 25 at a handful of venues in Greater Vancouver.

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Ratnarajah is mixed race, queer femme of Sri Lankan and British ancestry, and an interdisciplinary and transnational artist and arts organizer. She has worked as a producer, performer, writer, facilitator and arts organizer with cultural and arts organizations in Vancouver, Montreal and New York.

“My parents moved to Ladner with me and my brother when I was six,” she recalled. “I went to Delta Manor and then Delta Secondary. I’ve always worked in the arts in theatre and a little bit in film. After I moved away for grad school, I came back to Vancouver and the job posting for this role came up. For the first two years I worked with my wonderful co-worker Amber Dawn as co-artistic directors and last year she decided to focus a bit more on her writing and teaching career, so I took over the role as a whole.”

Ratnarajah is invested in creating and supporting work that shines a light on histories and contemporary stories that are underrepresented in mainstream theatre and performance, and in collaborating and creating work with other women artists of colour, other queer and femme artists, and trans artists.

The festival will premiere the work of home-grown queer emerging and established filmmakers. These short films range in genre and style, from documentary to narrative, animation, fantasy, experimental and romance.

“The theme this year is See for Yourself, so I wanted to invite audience members to take a chance on coming to see some films they might not otherwise necessarily see,” she said. “So it’s a bit of a challenge and an invitation to our long-term audience to see something different and then for folks who have never been to our festival before to get a chance to know what queer and trans film from all over the world are like.”

With more than 100 films from 27 countries, the 11-day festival is the largest queer arts event in Western Canada and the second-largest film festival in Vancouver.

“Every year we get more and more submissions, which I think speaks to the fact that queer film is becoming more popular and viable and more queer and trans people have access to film as an artistic practice,” she said.

“It’s still not the easiest art form to get into. It costs a lot of money to go to school. Film, like any other artistic medium, has privileged the stories of people who already have the power to tell their stories and so marginalized folks like queer and trans folks, people of colour or people with disabilities, have often been excluded from film as an art practice and now that is shifting a little, which is great. It means we have more and more films to choose from and more and more films from around the world, which is very exciting.”

Ticket information can be found at




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