The best little Toronto LGBT film festival in Ontario

 The 1st annual Queer West Festival started from very humble beginnings, in  a friend’s backyard on June 18,  2008 and no budget or sponsors. 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.  The first film festival raised $200, after they paid the driver for delivery of the chairs.

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 was produced by Dunnion and Helen Prancic. BIG BIG SKY book is published by Red Deer Press, 2008.Visit

The 2nd by Film-maker Robert Thomson, who works at Woody’s  a bar on Church St. in 2008. He talked about his two films shot during the brutal snowstorms in  January and February 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

 A Youth Film Festival was held 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 again 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.  The Festival 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." Film Festival founder Michel F. Paré said

" In 2015 we're made the jump from our annual evening screening to a weekend film festival. From shorts, documentaries and full length features, we aim to showcase the very best of Canadian and international queer cinema from both emerging and established directors. Our aim is not only to celebrate and entertain but to highlight the issues that continue to affect  their  community at home and around the world. The festival is  Toronto’s second largest LGBTQ film festival. Running from August 7-9th 2015, 4-6 PM, The Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Toronto Ontario" Said Lauren Tenn, Festival Program Director.

Lauren is from Bournemouth England, now living in Toronto. Her heritage is Jamaican/Chinese. She holds a Masters in Cultural and Arts Management with skills in administration and customer service roles, University of Winchester, U.K and Honours BA (Hons) History degree, from University of Exeter.  Joined the organization in June 2014 and helped organize both the film and arts festivals. She was elected festival President on October 19, 2014. Lauren manages all aspects of the  Queer West Film Festival; volunteers, grant writing, screening film submissions and prepared  Film Festival for 2015. Lauren on Twitter Her email is