The 5th anniversary of Queer Screen will be celebrated at the end of this month when the Commonwealth Film Festival (ComFEST) returns to Manchester and the North West.

Taking place over the second week-end of the festival, Queer Screen is a showcase of Gay and Lesbian documentaries, features and shorts from all over the world.

The main highlights of the programme include a rare lesbian drama set in rural India, The Journey, and Gypo, a festival hit and the UK’s first Dogme95 certified feature film.

Canada continues to produce persistently fresh and compelling gay stories including Richard Bell’s Eighteen and Buchbinder’s Whole New Thing, a wonderful coming of age-story that explores sexuality and identity in a delightfully unconventional way.

Boys on Boys and Girls on Girls also feature as fresh and loud short films where budding new filmmakers round off the programme.

There is also a screenwriting master class preceding the screening of Whole New Thing where its writer, Amnon Buchbinder, applies his Taoist approach to storytelling.

Last year’s festival attracted a combined audience of 6,000 from as far a field as Liverpool and Cambridge, generating an estimated millions of pounds to the visitor economy.

Peter Fell, chairman of the board for ComFEST, said: “As well as contributing to Manchester reputation as a crucible of artistic excellence, the festival continues to have a growing impact on the City’s economy which should not be underestimated.”

The festival runs from April 28 to May 7.