– History of our Film Festival

Humble beginnings for the Queer West Film Festival

first annual toronto queer west film festival june 18, 2008


first queer west film festival june 18 2008In May 2008 one of nine founding members of Toronto Arts and Culture Festival Michel F. Paré, suggested to the Board of Director that a film festival should be held as part of the arts festival. After permission granted he  then set about organizing the first film festival with the help of Forest Lightbody (Seen in top picture with beard), who supplied a few of the films that were screen at  Jola’s Good Catch General Store backyard, 1556 Queen St W, Toronto, ON on  June 18,  2008 and no budget.  The movie screen was a white bed-sheet hung on one of the walls of the adjacent building. The event was PWYC from 8pm to 10pm. Everyone raved about our chocolate covered popcorn.  A local store owner donated 60 school room chairs and 25 people stood a back or sat on the ground. Our first Film festival raised $200, after we paid the driver for delivery of the chair.


Toronto filmmaker Kristyn Dunnion Two feature films were screened; the first Big Big Sky by Kristyn Dunnion, a self described saucy tart, Dunnion is the author of novels Missing Matthew and Mosh Pit. Her short stories are published in numerous collections.   Big Big Sky is part anarchist fable, part distopian fiction, and part lesbian love story. The Video Short as produced by Dunnion and Helen Prancic. BIG BIG SKY is published by Red Deer Press, 2008.


Toronto filmmaker Robert Thomson
Robert Thomson

The 2nd by Filmmaker Robert Thomson, who works at Woody’s  a bar on Church St. in 2008. He talked about his two films shot during a brutal snowstorms in  January and February of 2008,“Waiting” is Robert Thomson’s first attempt at film making. Originally intended to be a black comedy with an all drag cast, the weather prevented “Waiting” from evolving as conceived and, in the end, the weather itself ended up being a character in the film, providing an ideal background for the character’s seated frustration and inertia.Mark Rosenbauer’s music adds the perfect texture to this moody piece.

Thomsom armed with a new camera and a lifetime of cinematic longing, followed up “Waiting” with “Waking Up,” which he considers his next logical step in the process of spiritual awakening. Shot in May and early June of 2008, this short film is a collage of moods and images,and reflects a more hands-off approach to life and film making. “Waking Up” is about awareness and stillness.


Both filmmakers stayed for an audience Q & A  at 10 pm


We also held Youth Film Festival on August 23, 2008. A question-and-answer session took place after the showing of the films with film directors. “There were many films not previously shown publicly in Toronto. The event took place in the back parking lot of Good Catch General Store; doors open at 8 p.m. with shows running from 9 to 11 p.m. There was no reserve seating and seating was on a first-come, first-seated basis, 60 chairs only. We had film break at about 10:10 p.m. unfortunately at 10.30 pm there was a sudden thunder shower, cancelling the balance of the outdoor show.

Queer West Film Festival is now Queering Boundaries going beyond a fixed identity and embracing fluidity. Through the medium of film, the Queer West Film Festival will push for a more inclusive and complex queer identity; a queer identity that is necessarily shaped through interactions with place, space and community.

The ninth annual Queer West Film October 6-8, 2017 @ Revue Cinema was been cancelled February 6, 2017 .

There is nothing is more frustrating than six trained volunteers who decided on their own, to discard the plan which had work for eight years, for one of their own. Just because someone volunteers does not give them the right to do whatever they want. Everyone should be pulling their weight, not pushing their weight around. The volunteers were fired, throwing the festival into chaos on Feb 6, 2017.

We should have minimum of six to 10 general volunteers to manage a festival of this size. There is simply not enough time to train new volunteers at this late date. This is the reason for cancellation; we will pay a few bills, and returned the TD Bank funding check on Monday February 20.  We’re putting the film festival to sleep for a year or two.


Former  Film Festival Program Directors

Forest Lightbody, Toronto Ontario – 2008 June 18 to June 20, 2009

Casey Reid, Toronto Ontario – 2010 (Casey Reid is now a Professor at Humber College,  teaching Media Studies and Information Technology)

Michel F. Pare, Toronto Ontario – 2011

Julien Drablovic, Oakville Ontario – 2012

Michel F. Pare, Toronto Ontario – 2013

Lauren Tenn, Toronto Ontario – 2014 (June 1) to  2015 (Sept 18)

Alexis Bouton, Toronto Ontario – 2016 – To Feb 16, 2017 (festival cancelled)


Queer West was founded in 2001, incorporated as a Gay West Community Network Inc. not-for-profit Ontario charity in 2008. We Produce  performing and visual arts festivals and events for the purposes of educating and advancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of performing and visual arts and to educate artists through participation in such festivals and related art workshops.

Head Office 416-879-7954 queerwestartsfestival@gmail.com