image+nation Closing Film: A Night of History and Opulence

November 25th was the premiere of Venus Envy: The House of Venus and the closing night of the Image+Nation film festival. Image+Nation is an 11-day festival that includes international short films, documentaries, and feature films about LGBTQ+ topics. The closing night event combined queer culture and history with visual culture. 

The night started with a drag performance. The performer was wearing a retro, 1960s-styled outfit with a bejewelled fascinator with feathers, shaped like a hand. 

This performance was the precursor to a series of incredibly original archival looks present in the documentary which were modelled on stage as well as in the isle of the theatre. The outfits were whimsical, absurd, and creature-like, especially memorable was a costume made of ties and another made of party confetti.

Venus Envy: The House of Venus was a fascinating documentary about queer and drag culture in Canada. The film was directed by Michael Venus a.k.a Miss Cotton Venus “The Mother of the House.” It showcased the twenty-five-year process of creating a unique drag scene and the introduction of gay clubs and events in the cities’ nightlife with the collective, “House of Venus.” This was a group of people who created a multitude of different forms of art such as short films, design, and music while expressing and exploring their gender and sexual identity, in a time where it was not openly accepted. The film ends in reflection on the necessity for the pride parade and how sometimes it’s a celebration, but depending on the setting it can also be a protest, noting that queer history is still not widely taught. 

The night ended with the 2023 “Wiggle” fashion show, or a continuation of the night’s opening show. It included models walking in eccentric outfits, and dance performances to popular new and old songs by drag artists. Archival footage, also shown in the documentary, was projected on a screen at the back of the stage. 

I never learned anything about queer history at school, so I found this movie eye-opening and inspiring. This event made me want to learn more about the history of LGBTQ+ in Canada and I was honoured to be in the presence of such interesting, confident, and creative people. 


You can learn more about image+national Festival at