Six must-attend film screenings and art events at the 2021 Images Festival

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Over the past year, many people have leaned on art for a sense of comfort and to express their feelings during the pandemic. Canada’s Images Festival understands the profound impacts of all art forms, especially in the current socio-political moment. 

For the second consecutive year, Images Festival will take an entirely virtual format. The thought-provoking film screenings and inspiring exhibitions can now be enjoyed by audiences as they remain safe at home. From May 20 to 26, online attendees are invited to experience new and independent voices from Canada and across the globe at its 34th edition via livestream at

“We are thrilled to be able to extend access to more than 60 works by experimental artists and filmmakers to viewers across the country and around the globe,” says Samuel La France, the executive director of Images Festival. “Over seven days in May, we will present more than a dozen screenings, three online exhibitions, parties, artist talks and educational programs.”

To ensure the festival is accessible to everyone, screenings and events are free of charge and registration is not required. 

The 2021 edition of Images Festival is curated by programmers Alia Ayman, Yasmin Nurming-Por and Robert Lee, with facilitation by Sara Constant. There will be several opportunities for audiences to be part of conversations with artists about a wide range of provocative topics.

“Images Festival continues to be one of the world’s premiere destinations for audiences to explore and engage with the vanguard of contemporary media practices from around the world,” says La France. “We cannot wait to share it with the public.”

We highly recommend tuning into all of the festival’s programming but for those with hectic schedules, we’ve picked six events that can’t be missed.

The opening night feature

On May 20, the week-long festival will kick off with the screening of the International film BalikBayan #1: Memories Of Overdevelopment Redux VI (1979-2019) by Kidlat Tahimik. Footage was collected by Tahimik over the course of four decades and challenges the colonial narratives of the first credited global circumnavigation. The story is told through various media formats, from 8mm to iPhone footage.

The GLOBAL COWS digital project

This collaborative project, created by artists Vanessa Disler, Tiziana La Melia, Nina Royle, Lucy Stein and Charlott Weise, is just as attention grabbing as it’s title. The two-part interactive fresco spans walking, drawing, painting and digital wayfinding, and will live on the festival’s website until May 2022.

The Canadian premier of Kush Badhwar’s Blood Earth 

Many of the films that will be screened at this year’s Images Festival explore land relationships by looking at land as a colonial enterprise. Blood Earth (2013) by Kush Badhwar documents a mine encroaching on communities in India. The screening schedule can be found on the festival’s website.

The CYBERTEASE and STRAPHOUSE late-night dance parties

Images Festival 2021 will showcase two steamy live performances and dance parties. On May 21, CYBERTEASE and STRAPHOUSE will take the virtual stage for a sexy strip show, co-presented with Maggie’s. Entertaining audiences all the way from the UK, CYBERTEASE is a unionized sex worker collective and bi-monthly digital strip show. The CYBERTEASE team, along with four guest performers from STRAPHOUSE will perform to a sensual DJ set from the UK-based group Queer Dance Party. 

On May 22, folks who like to get down can participate in the late-night party hosted by TOXIC HAUS, an international queer collective and online dance party. TOXIC HAUS will take over the festival’s Zoom stream for a night of futuristic fun with DJ sets from Bad Sista, K Hole Kardashian and more.  

The Research Forum 

The upcoming Research Forum is titled Decentralization As The Practice of Freedom and is organized by EXPOBLVD PROJECTS. The cross-disciplinary consultancy specializes in visual and cinematic arts, and has invited eight collectives to a series of virtual talkback sessions that focus on decentralization. 

Participating in the forum are the collective practices of Chiapas Media Project/Promedios, Universe Contemporary, Kinomatics, Green Papaya Art Projects, Forensic Architecture, The Nest Collective and Toronto Biennial of Art.

The closing night film

The festival will close with the Canadian premier of Faasla (2021), an intimate series of video letters composed between Priya Sen (New Delhi) and Nicolás Grandi (Buenos Aires). Since 2011, the artists have “written” to each other of the distances and intimacies they could no longer access. 

For more information, visit Follow Images Festival on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for updates. 

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