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Welcome to the 4th Annual Toronto Queer Film Festival!

In 2016, the TQFF collective first formed out of an urgent need to address the lack of support for, and exhibition of, queer and trans activist, experimental, and independent/art film and video – especially works produced by local artists. 

As mainstream LGBTQ+ film festivals, in Toronto and across North America and much of the globe, have drifted relentlessly towards programming high budget narrative works – especially films with (homo)normative plots and conventional aesthetics often made by, and starring, straight people – independent, art, and emerging queer and trans directors have increasingly been shut out of the LGBTQ+ festival circuit. At TQFF, we believe this is destructive to alternative queer and trans filmmaking ecologies that once thrived with support from LGBTQ+ festivals. In addition, it reflects a privileging of mainstream media content that fails to serve queer and trans audiences who desire and benefit from a more diverse programming of work – primarily made by queer and trans directors – that push norms, boundaries, and conventional aesthetics.

As such, TQFF is committed to supporting work made by and about our communities. This is reflected in both the spirit of the schedule we have programmed for this year’s festival and special Stonewall 50 symposium, as well as in the demographic statistics we collect from selected artists: over half of the films screening at this year’s festival are directed by local artists, and, as well, over half the films were made by Indigenous filmmakers and people of colour.

2019 has been a big year for TQFF. We recently incorporated as a non-profit, and in so doing have been razor-focused on adhering to our mandate to serve underrepresented filmmakers and audiences and avoiding the pitfalls we believe plague the majority of LGBTQ+ nonprofits today. While many organizations and LGBTQ+ “leaders” tout vapid and vague messages of “love is love” and “love trumps hate,” fascism and the far right are spreading rapidly and have in many ways successfully co-opted populist discourses. While many organizations trumpet supposed civil rights campaigns that almost exclusively benefit LGBTQ+ people who already have money, jobs, and especially private property, the vast majority of queer and trans people are suffering from poverty, un- or under-employment, lack of access to health care and safe/affordable housing, and an epidemic of chronic illnesses.

It is in this context that the TQFF Collective decided on our festival theme of Stonewall 50. We believe it is not only important, but vital, for festivals like TQFF to offer relevant and accessible programming that provides a space to bring together and support our communities. This year’s festival and symposium will not only foreground discussion of serious issues our community faces today, but empower and inspire us with visions of queer and trans resistance and rebellion.

I look forward to seeing you at TQFF 2019!

Kami Chisholm

Artistic Director