A still from

A still from Chitrangada:The Crowning Wish

For the 25th annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Out on Screen, the charitable organization that produces the festival, is doing something it’s never attempted before. It has organized a PechaKucha talk where presenters will explore how cinema has shaped and reflected queer life and identity.

“It’s probably the one time we’ll ever present something like this and it’s one of those moments that will only exist in the time that we are all in the theatre together, so it’s the event not to miss at the festival,” said Shana Myara, director of festival programming for Out on Screen.

The event called “Who Are We, Cinema?” will take place on August, 18. Speakers include Peggy Thompson, screenwriter of 1999’s locally shot film Better than Chocolate, Aerlyn Weisman, who co-directed the 1992 documentary Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives, and Adam Goldman, creator of the popular Kickstarterfunded web series The Outs.

Another first time for the festival is a focus on films from India. “This is the year that’s being celebrated as the 100th year of Indian cinema,” Myara said. “It’s a year where we’ve seen three exceptional films come out of India that talk about gender and sexuality.”

One of the three featured films, Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish, enjoys its Canadian premiere as the Centrepiece Gala film on August, 22. The movie is a meditation on the illusion of fixed identities and its director, Rituparno Ghosh, was scheduled to attend the screening, but he died of heart failure earlier this year.

“He died at age 49, which is really terribly sad because he was a pioneer in Indian cinema and was really fearless in his support of women’s rights and a transgressive gender non-conformist with immense talent,” Myara said.

Another film she had to include is Pariah which was released in 2011. “It’s one of these excellent, under-seen films that was just a victim of its poor distribution,” Myara said.

Pariah is coming-of-age story about a queer African-American girl, written and directed by Dee Rees with Spike Lee as an executive producer. “It’s a gem of a film. It’s really poignant,” Myara said. “It’s from the African-American experience, which is often under-represented in cinema, in general, and in queer cinema as well,” Myara said. “Frankly, over the years, queer cinema has evolved and become very strong, but there is still that lack of representation of women filmmakers gaining access and ability to make strong feature films.”

The Youth Gala film is G.B.F., short for Gay Best Friend, which features Megan Mullaly, who played Karen on TV show Will and Grace.

“It’s one of those delightful, quirky, kind of Mean Girls-style comedies that actually works,” Myara said. “The concept of the film is that suddenly a gay best friend is the new must-have accessory, so then two young men try to capitalize on what social capital they can gain from adopting this label.”

The 25th annual festival features 79 films from 20 countries running August 15 to 25. It’s Vancouver’s second largest film festival and the largest queer arts festival in Western Canada.