Vancouver Queer Film Festival features Filipino LGBTQ+

Mildred German (right) with VQFF 2019’s “Come Around” crew, Virgil Hilario and Rhea Casido. (Provided)

Updated: August 18, 2019, 10 PM.

Two films highlight Filipino LGBTQ+ community members

Mildred German

Vancouver, BC

To bring diversity to the audience, VQFF 2019 will present two films that highlight the Filipino LGBTQ+ stories. These films are “Billie and Emma”, which is a film from the Philippines, directed by Samantha Lee. The other entry film is a local entitled “Come Around” by Andy Alvarez, starring Virgil Hilario and Rhea Casido, as part of the “The Coast is Queer” Short Programs.

Lee, a Philippine-based filmmaker who advocates for better representation of women and the LGBTQ+ in cinema, came to Vancouver in 2017 to showcase her first film, “Maybe Tomorrow (Baka Bukas)” at the 29th VQFF. The film won various awards both in the Philippines and abroad, including the “Emerging Talent Award” at the OutFest 2017. Audiences at the VQFF 2017 chose it as the “Best Feature”.pastedGraphic.png

Director Samantha Lee with audiences of the 2017 “Maybe Tomorrow (Baka Bukas)” film screening at the 29th Vancouver Queer Film Festival. (Photo: Stella Reyes)

For the 31st VQFF, Lee will be bringing her 2018 film, “Billie and Emma”, which is a story about a pregnant teenager in the Philippines who falls in love with the new girl in her school. The film is in Pilipino with English subtitles. It will be shown on August 17, 2019, 2pm at the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts in Vancouver.



“Come Around” stars Rhea Casido, Lillian Lim and Virgil Hilario. (Provided)

“Come Around” as part of the VQFF 2019’s “The Coast is Queer” Short Programs, is produced by the Vancouver Film School, written by Tasha Victorino, directed by Andy Alvarez. Virgil Hilario and Rhea Casido stars in this film, where Casido plays the daughter who is coming out to her parents, with Hilario plays her father in the film.

Rhea Casido is a young aspiring actress, who attended theatre school, also keeps busy with music and modeling. Casido’s stage role in “Come Around” as a closeted daughter named “Bella”, also reflects her real life, as a queer daughter who is not open to her immediate family about her sexuality. She spoke in an interview, that her parents, although not much pressure from them, expects a normal life and education for her like most Filipino parents want for their children. However, Casido expressed she is “pretty sure they know, we just don’t talk about it”.

Virgil Hilario, who works with an insurance company, and also as an actor, plays Casido’s father on stage in the film “Come Around”. The film premiered in November 2018 by the Vancouver Film School as part of their exhibition. Hilario expressed making films as “out of love”. He is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ rights; he currently co-chairs Pinoy Pride Vancouver Society, and co-pilots “Pinoy Rainbow on Jeepney Café”, which airs on first Saturday of each month on 100.5FM CFRO Vancouver’s Coop Radio.

“Come Around”is part of the VQFF 2019’s “The Coast is Queer” Short Programs  and will be showcased on August 22, 2019 at the York Theatre in Commercial Drive, in Vancouver, BC.

2019 will feature Western Canada’s largest queer arts event, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF).  Founded in 1989 and now on its 31st Festival, VQFF 2019’s theme is “See For Yourself”.

Stephanie Goodwin, Executive Director of the VQFF mentions, “The theme this year is See for Yourself. It is an invitation, an enticement, a provocation, and a flirtation to give yourself over to the beauty and complexity of queer film.

See for yourself what makes queer film so special. We choose queer films for their artistic value that bring together diverse audiences for a shared experience leading to unexpected and stimulating conversations. We center films we believe will enrich your lives, bring you together—close to each other,” Goodwin states in the Festival website




VQFF is also Vancouver’s second largest film festival. It is also more than celebrating the best in independent queer cinema, the Festival also hosts performances, workshops, panel discussions, parties and more. Throughout the 11 days the Festival has each August, the facilitating of unique community space and throughout the year are teamed up with many queer filmmakers, many languages, many stories, and also with other Arts and community groups to co-present queer film.

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